We've been receiving fake news for quite some time now. One can readily look back to the years of Yellow Journalism where fake stories riled up the masses, so much so that a war was declared ("Remember the Maine!", See: www.history.com/topics/spanish-american-war). A more recent exposure of fake news would be the false stories about our naval ships being attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin (See: www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/world/asia/15vietnam.html). Another example would be the misleading stories about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction that proximately led to the invasion of Iraq (See: www.newsweek.com/2015/05/29/dick-cheneys-biggest-lie-333097.html). Now we have seen a slew of lies make it onto front pages of newspapers, headlines on cable news and more importantly, those created and perpetuated by the rumor mill known as the Internet - all with loyal adherants and believers that have so little regard for real news and facts that fake news is all they need to determine their beliefs and opinions.
Just during the last election cycle we saw a claim that Planned Parenthood routinely sold body parts from aborted fetuses to universities for "research" purposes. One candidate for president latched onto this fake news and it suddenly became part of our national discourse. So much so that members of Congress began to argue for legislation to combat funding for Planned Parenthood. Was the story true? Of course not. Was the reaction to the fake story real? You bet!
Following this, came other revelations of fake news - too many to post in this week's blog. The bigger ones? That Hillary Clinton attacked the mental status of a rape victim in a court case while defending the rapist. The story went on to say Clinton laughed at the victim and essentially, had low regard for women - which explains her continuous support for her "rapist" husband. Although the story was clearly void of facts, the public heard about this lie enough times to believe it. Unfortunately for those that publicized the story through social media, the story was again, fake. Which led into the fake story that the Clinton Foundation was really a "pay for play" scheme that donated no actual funds to charity. Although the Foundation was in fact not a contributor to "Charity", they certainly would not be expected to donate money to others considering the Foundation was itself a charity. Does it matter to those that prefer to gear their fake news from purveyors of fake news? No way! Minds made up! Proof exists only in the masterminds of the misdirection manipulating the easily duped. Need another? There was a gunman just last week who walked into a Washington D.C. pizza joint armed with a AR-15 firing rounds into the restaurant's ceiling intent on personally breaking up the Child-Sex Ring run by the Clintons out of thier location. Except there never was a child sex ring run by the Clintons, let alone one run out of the pizza joint (See: ktla.com/2016/12/05/fake-news-stories-about-pizzagate-led-armed-man-to-d-c-restaurant-police/).
But fake news said there was and if fake news reported it, then it must be true. Except it too was a lie. Instead of labeling the purveyors of fake news the liars they are, the public readily blames the actual media because well, they have to blame someone for their own intellectual failures to discern nonsense from reality (admitedly, the "real" media has some responsibility for turning actual news into Infotainment, but fake news driven by mannipulators most certainly warrants the distain and disgust it deserves). Which gets me to my point.
Ever wonder what will happen if the entire nation is convinced there are no reliable sources of unbiased news? Would it evolve into a general denial of all things factual? Will facts then be replaced by the ideological bias that drives our interpretation and appreciation of fake news instead? Just read the comments of Trump supporters when the Trump Transition team admits not everything Trump said on the campaign trail can or should be taken as fact. In fact, Scottie Nell Hughes, one Trump surrogate actually proclaimed "there's no such thing, unfortunately as facts anymore." More importantly, some in the Trump camp seem to mock the American public for being so gullible for believing things Trump himself said on the campaign trail. According to Cory Lewandowski, “They (the American public) understood that sometimes– when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar– you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up,”
(See: www.newsweek.com/2015/05/29/dick-cheneys-biggest-lie-333097.html). When did it become acceptable to American families for President-Elects to lie to the public because folks don't always "have all of the facts"? When do morals and ethics come into play when Americans no longer can determine what is real or fake when the people they elect to the highest office in the land can't themselves keep reality from fiction straight - let alone communicate it to all Americans?
This is the danger we now are facing. Every intelligence agency has determined that Russia has hacked into our political systems in order to manipulate our elections. After years of investigating Hillary Clinton for things made up by her opponents ("she personally murdered four Americans in Yemen", etc.) why do Trump supporters so readily dismiss reports of foreign nations engaged in disrupting our elections - the foundation of our democratic-republic? Is it because they are now convinced by fake news outlets that actual facts need not be heeded, because the outcome negates the need to know the immoral, unethical and untruthful means for reaching their preferred outcomes?
Isn't it just as dangerous to us all to no longer even care that we are being lied to, being manipulated and being deceived for what to many, including this author, finds repulsive and repugnant to our way of life? Until Americans wake up, we may be heading towards an abyss of dishonesty and a serious corruption/erosion of our democratic principles. All coming from the misinformation machine, whether from the Left or the Right. And for the next few years, it appears the Right will be using its "fake news" expertise - rendering it the sure bet to be the culprit for any mayhem and devastation it may inflict upon our our collective society. Think I am being overly dramatic? Look at the use of Twitter by President-elect Trump. His personal attacks on anyone he does not agree with is enough to convince any student of American presidential history that we are no longer "in Kansas anymore." We are entering a new era of the Modern Presidency and its already beginning to look a lot different than what many Founding Fathers and Framers would recognize. Should we expect anyone within the GOP to confront Mr. Trump when he "goes off the rails" with impulsive and reactionary tweets that have a wide-range negative effect on citizens? Let's hope so. Especially knowing some followers will feel it their personal civic duty to confront those their President has called out. Think I'm being too critical? Think again about the nut job opening fire in the D.C. pizzararia and get back to me. Think again when Trump supporters posted on social media that on Thanksgiving they are most thankful for -----Donald Trump! Forget their G-d, health, their education, their families, but thank Trump! Think they will ever agree if real news and facts attack Mr. Trump? Not hardly.
Does fake news have a legitimate place in our political discourse? Remember there are millions of folks who believe anything, including that lunar missions were all faked. Remember that many refute the science around global warming as fake. Despite actual facts, many will refuse to acknowledge them because some basement dweller made up a fantasy and now is collecting advertising revenue off the Internet for "click-bait hits" perpetuating the lies.
One thing that was not faked? NASA missions to space, including the brave pioneering work of an original Mercury Astronaut. This week we lost a true American hero with the death of John Glenn. Serviceman, Pilot, Astronaut, Senator, and Public Servant, Glenn was appropriately honored earliar this year in Columbus, Ohio with the renaming of the airport to John Glenn International Airport. Was Glenn a product of a fake media? Obviously not. But will anyone believe the fact that such a man even existed to help move America forward - with honesty, integrity and selfless love of Country? As John Glenn once said; "Don't tune out or drop out. Don't give in to complacency and cynicism. Don't ignore what is bad, but concentrate on building what is good. Don't take America and the values reflected in our form of government for granted. And never forget that in our democracy, the government is not 'them' -- it is 'us'." What more can or need be said? Pay attention to the bad and make it better. Appreciate that calling out any lies and efforts to manipulate the public is necessary to protect our form of democracy and remember most of all, our government, no matter who is in charge, must honestly work for We The People! Have a great week!