Hamilton: The challenges of fake news
July 3, 2017
What is fake news and how can it be detected? Fake news occurs when media managers tell reporters to find sources to back up conclusions already reached by the media managers. Eager to remain employed, some reporters will dutifully select certain agreeable "facts," ignore disagreeable "facts," and cobble up stories that accord with what the media managers want their readers to read or their viewers to view.
But what if there are no "facts," agreeable or disagreeable, to be found? That can lead to the invention of the "anonymous source." Or, the "someone in a position to know" who, for various excuses, cannot be named.
Award-winning investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, in her new book "The Smear: How Political Operatives and Fake News Contribute to What You See, What You Think, and How you Vote," says: "…the news these days has so many serious mistakes, even by formerly well-respected news outlets… people should do their own research to find out what is true…"
Alas, few work-a-day Americans can afford the time to dig through fake news to get the "real" story. And all-too-many rely on just one media outlet. But it can help to know the political orientation of the various media outlets.
This is not to say that any of these media outlets are consistently guilty of producing fake news. Nor is it to say they never make "innocent" mistakes in their coverage of stories. These media outlets are generally regarded as liberal: New Yorker, Slate, Huffington Post, Daily Show, PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, USA Today, Bloomberg, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Economist, Fortune, Daily Beast, The Observer, Politifact, Politico, Snopes, BBC America, Al Jazeera America, Colbert Report, BuzzFeed, and Google News, to name only a few.
These media outlets are generally regarded as conservative: Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Fox News, Fox Business, Daily Signal, New York Post, Christian Science Monitor, New York Post, Forbes, The Blaze, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, American Thinker, AIM Report, Newsmax, and Barron's.
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The Drudge Report is considered conservative because Matt Drudge highlights stories that favor conservatives; however, Drudge also provides links to stories and columnists from both the political Left and the political Right. Generally regarded as politically neutral are: C-SPAN, Roll Call, UPI, Real Clear Politics, and Reason.com.
Years ago, when this writer edited a newspaper, we tried our best to keep our news pages politically neutral. Reports had to be verified by at least two independent sources. No anonymous anything. No tilt Left or Right. Our owners, however, were conservatives. Fortunately, they understood their views would only be found on our editorial/opinion pages — pages clearly marked as editorial/opinion pages.
But fake news did not start with the election of 2016. Read Peter Braestrup's award-winning, two-volume "Big Story," (1977) detailing how the 1968 TET offense was falsely reported by The New York Times, The Washington Post and others. Fortunately, as the mainstream media (MSM) prostitute themselves trying to impede the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, more and more individuals have access, via the Internet, to alternative news sources. The challenge is to know which sources to trust.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University. For more, see: http://www.central-view.com.