Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fake News?

This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.

We hear a lot of talk about "fake news" these days. Greta Van Sustern has a great op-ed that is appearing of all places in the LA Times about fake news. In this piece, she eloquently compares how America has squandered its free press while in other parts of the world,  journalists and others risk their lives to stand up for a free press and print things negative about the governments of the countries where they live and work. Greta points out the biggest incident of fake news of all (outside of Orson Wells' "War of the Worlds" broadcast many moons ago). That would be the fiction that the Obama administration and most notably Hillary Clinton put out that the Benghazi attack came as the result of a short video satire made by some guy in California about Islam and its prophet. Here is Greta's article:

Greta is spot on. During the 1970s, I lived and worked in Thailand, a country that did not enjoy a free press. It made me appreciate all the more the freedom of press that we enjoyed in America.

For several years now, I have realized that the responsibility that comes with a free press has been lost on most of our media. The line between opinion and fact has become blurred, if not swept away. Fox News' Sean Hannity, who makes it clear he is an opinion-based commentator, has said for some time now that journalism in America is dead. He is correct, and the public saw the smoking gun over the course of this election, when reporters became cheerleaders for Hillary Clinton jumping on every negative thing about Trump they could find while ignoring Hillary's long history of scandals. Indeed, Martha Raddatz actually choked up on television on election night when it was clear Trump would win. And this woman was one of the debate moderators!

As for the Benghazi-video story, this was a shameful lie put out by the administration, and for the news media to push it added  to the sad saga of America journalism going back for too many years-decades, actually.

I would never argue for taking away our free press, but when the press misleads or lies, it needs to be pointed out to the public. And what is the most effective vehicle for informing the public? The press.

Quite a pickle we are in.

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