FAKE NEWS DOMINATED MANY PLATFORMS DURING THE 2016 ELECTION
By Collin Berend
This past year we were bombarded with fatuous and spurious stories. by some of the most unknown websites posing as news and organizations we all know. There was fake news to exploit clicks for money, for amusement, for conspiratorial lunacy and articles spreading provocative lies for attention or misrepresentation.
Fake news is defined as a source of news that deliberately doesn’t tell the truth or misrepresents what happened. This includes those writing conspiratorial articles from the likes of Alex Jones, a far right political commentator, or even CNN missing a crucial detail.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when Sylville Smith was killed, on video, CNN first portrayed his sister, Sherelle Smith, as calling for peace in her area. Later on, CNN apologized for the editing, having cut out before Smith suggested taking the violence to the suburbs instead.
The news sites covering that error came from Breitbart and the Washington Times, both conservative leaning. Whether this fault was purposeful or not, does matter. I don’t see why CNN would simply not include a 2-second section of that video.
When reports from 4Chan about Trump and his golden shower allegation came out, outlets like BuzzFeed ran the story as fact, knowing there was no evidence.
The same happened with the idea of Russia leaking information during the election. CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and so on, pushed the narrative that it was Russia before affirmative information was provided. Before any evidence. News agencies should wait to see the evidence, not believe the CIA.
President Trump’s skepticism of their work is well placed. It was the CIA that helped get us into the Iraq War based on false information about former Iraqi president and dictator Saddam Hussein. Colin Powell went on record and called it a “great intelligence failure.”
Even the CIA should not automatically be believed. They’re human-operated, and as such, are subject to fail. We all are.
One fake story of 2016 was the allegation that Pope Francis endorsed Trump. First published on WTOE 5 and later picked up by Ending the Fed, this story was read hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook.
A hit that sadly caused an actual uproar was the infamous Pizzagate. This began after online users read the WikiLeak of Clinton’s emails with John Podesta, which contained the word “pizza.” They believed this to be a secret meaning to some nefarious truth, such as human trafficking involvement.
These stories hurt true journalism because they blur the line between what is real and what is fake. When fake news tries to look real, and when real publications present mere claims as facts, no one knows what to believe.
Already, it has become a political left versus right. Fox News and Washington Times versus The Washington Post and The New York Times. BuzzFeed versus Breitbart.
For consumers of the news, the best course of action is to read all sides and look at the evidence. Do your research and check the URL.
If you’re reading Everyday Feminism or BuzzFeed, then read Breitbart. If you hear one opinion or fact in the news from one source, see the opposing pieces. And if you see something that looks odd or unreal, check the link. Does it have a “.com.co?” Then it’s likely fake. The sites with a “.co” in them are generally overseas sites, like “.co.uk” for a British website.
One must be skeptical when reading online and not in print; but with the right direction and knowledge on how to discern what’s true and false, hearing both sides and waiting for evidence, readers should be fi