A Philosopher's Blog

Fake News V: Fake vs Real

Posted in Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on December 12, 2016

One of the challenges in combatting fake news is developing a principled distinction between fake and real news. One reason for this is providing a defense against the misuse of the term “fake news” to attack news on ideological or other irrelevant grounds. I make no pretense of being able to present a necessary and sufficient definition of fake news, but I will endeavor to make a rough sketch of how the real should be distinguished from the fake. My approach is built around three attributes: intention, factuality, and methodology. I will consider each in turn.

While determining a person’s intent can be challenging, intent does serve to differentiate fake news from real news. An obvious comparison here is to lying in general—a lie is not simply making an untrue claim, but making such a claim with an intent (typically malicious) to deceive. There are, of course, benign deceits—such as those of the arts.

There are some forms of fake news, namely those aimed at being humorous, that are benign in intent. The Onion, for example, aims to entertain as does Duffel Blog and Andy Borowitz. Being comedic in nature, they fall under the protective umbrella of art: they say untrue things to make people laugh. Though they are technically fake news, they are benign in their fakery and hence should not be treated as malicious fake news.

Other fake news operators, such as those behind the stories about Comet Ping Pong Pizza, seem to have different intentions. Some claim they created fake news with a benign intent—they wanted people to become more critical of the news. Assuming this was the intent, it did not seem to work out as they hoped. To their credit, they wanted to fail in their deceit—but this is as morally problematic as having a trusted figure lie to people about important things to try to teach them to be skeptical. As such, this sort of fake news is to be condemned.

Some also operate fake news to make a profit. Since news agencies also intend to make a profit, this does not differentiate the fake from the real. However, those engaged in real news do not intend to deceive to profit, whereas the fake news operators use deceit as a tool in their money-making endeavors. This is certainly something to be condemned.

Others engage in fake news for ideological reasons or to achieve political goals; their intent is to advance their agenda with intentional deceits. The classic defense of this approach is utilitarian: the good done by the lies outweighs their harm (for the morally relevant beings). While truly noble lies could be morally justified, the usual lies of fake news seem to not aim at the general good, but the advancement of a specific agenda that is likely to create more harm than good. Since this matter is so complicated, it is fortunate that the matter of fake news is much simpler: deceit presented as real news is fake news; even if the action could be justified on utilitarian grounds.

In the case of real news, the intent is to present claims that are believed to be true. This might be with the goal of profit, but it is the intent to provide truth that makes the difference. Naturally, working out intent can be challenging—but there is a fact of the matter as to why people do what they do. Real news might also be presented with the desire to advance an agenda, but if the intent is also to provide truth, then the news would remain real.

In regards to factuality, an important difference between fake and real news is that the real news endeavors to offer facts and the fake news does not. A fact is a claim that has been established as true (to the requisite degree) and this is a matter of methodology, which will be discussed below.

Factual claims are claims that are objective. This means that they are true or false regardless of how people think, feel or believe about them. For example, the claim that the universe contains dark matter is a factual claim. Factual claims can at least in theory, be verified or disproven. In contrast, non-factual claims are not objective and cannot be verified or disproven. As such, there can be no “fake” non-factual claims.

It might be tempting to protect the expression of values (moral, political, aesthetic and so on) in the news from accusations of being fake news by arguing that they are non-factual claims and thus cannot be fake news. The problem is that while many uncritically believe value judgments are not objective, this is actually a matter of considerable dispute. To assume that value claims are not factual claims would be to beg the question. But, to assume they are would also beg the question. Since I cannot hope to solve this problem, I will instead endeavor to sketch a practical guide to the difference.

In terms of non-value factual claims of the sort that appear in the news, there are established methods for testing them. As such, the way to distinguish the fake from the real is by consideration of the methodology used (and applying the relevant method).

In the case of value claims, such as the claim that reducing the size of government is the morally right thing to do, there are not such established methods to determine the truth (and there might be no truth in this context). As such, while such claims and any arguments supporting them can be criticized, they should not be regarded as news as such. Thus, they could not be fake news.

As a final point, it is also worth considering the matter of legitimate controversy. There are some factual matters that are legitimately in dispute. While not all the claims can be right (and all could be wrong), this does not entail that the claims are fake news. Because of this, to brand one side or the other as being fake news simple because one disagrees with that side would be unjustified. For example, whether imposing a specific tariff would help the economy is a factual matter, but one that could be honestly debated. I now turn to methodology.

It might be wondered why the difference between fake and real news is not presented entirely in terms of one making fake claims and the other making true claims. The reason for this is that a real news could turn out to be untrue and fake news could turn out to be correct. In terms of real news errors, reporters do make mistakes, sources are not always accurate, and so on. By pure chance, a fake news story could get the facts right, but it would not be thus real news. The critical difference between fake and real news is thus the methodology. This can be supported by drawing an analogy to science.

What differentiates real science from fake science is not that one gets it right and the other gets it wrong. Rather, it is a matter of methodology. This can be illustrated by using the dispute over dark matter in physics. If it turns out that dark matter does not exist, this would not show that the scientists were doing fake science. It would just show that they were wrong. Suppose that instead of dark matter, what is really going on is that normal matter in a parallel universe is interacting with our universe. Since I just made this up, I would not be doing real science just because my imagination happened to get it right.

Another analogy can be made to math. As any math teacher will tell you, it is not a matter of just getting the right answer, it is a matter of getting the right answer the right way. Hence the eternal requirement of showing one’s work. A person could simply guess at the answer at the problem and get it right; but they are not doing real math because they are not even doing math. Naturally, a person can be doing real math and still get the answer wrong.

Assuming these analogies hold, real news is a matter of methodology—a methodology that might fail. Many of the methods of real news are, not surprisingly, similar to the methods of critical thinking in philosophy. For example, there is the proper use of the argument from authority as the basis for claims. As another example, there are the methods of assessing unsupported claims against one’s own observations, one’s background information and against credible claims.

The real news uses this methodology and evidence of it is present in the news, such as identified sources, verifiable data, and so on. While a fake news story can also contain fakery about methodology, this is a key matter of distinction. Because of this, news that is based on the proper methodology would be real news, even if some might disagree with its content.

 

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  1. WTP said, on December 12, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Old and tired: Fake News
    The latest hotness getting the D’s all wet: The Russians Hacked It

    Come on, mike. You’re falling behind. Get with the program!

    • ronster12012 said, on December 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      WTP

      ……………………………………………………………………………..
      “The latest hotness getting the D’s all wet: The Russians Hacked It”
      ……………………………………………………………………………..

      But isn’t that just a ‘conspiracy theory’? Or are they saying that the only valid CT’s are ones that gives them good feelz?

      • WTP said, on December 12, 2016 at 10:45 pm

        They’ve thrived on CT’s. JFK, 9/11, chemtrails, hell Madeline Albrite thought GWB had OBL hidden away somewhere waiting to pop him out at the “right” time. They only discovered that there were CT’s and that “alternative news” was a problem when Birtherism arose. The alternative press has been quite active on college campuses since at least the 1960’s. If you read any interviews with musicians, actors, and such from the 60’s references to such are thick. And it was all leftist crap. I encountered much of it on campus in the 80’s during the Reagan years. I had professors who would make vague references to the dark powers of the right under Reagan. And oh, what an idiot he was. According to them anyway.

  2. ronster12012 said, on December 12, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Michael

    The highly esteemed and definitely non fake news site The Daily Stormer has a great article on NPR showing that the NYT is a fake news outlet. Well, obviously……

    http://www.dailystormer.com/npr-puts-out-guide-to-recognize-fake-news-nyt-fails-the-test/

  3. TJB said, on December 12, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    The Dems are on the hunt.

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 12, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Types of Propaganda

    Even propaganda is categorized based on the methods it uses to shape its argument. These categories are traditionally labelled as white, black, and gray propaganda. While there are discrepancies in the way these terms are defined, Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell (Propaganda and Persuasion) use the following labels:

    “White propaganda comes from a source that is identified correctly, and the information in the message tends to be accurate…Although what listeners hear is reasonably close to the truth, it is presented in a manner that attempts to convince the audience that the sender is the ‘good guy’ with the best ideas and political ideology.”

    “Black propaganda is credited to a false source, and it spreads lies, fabrications, and deceptions.”

    “Gray propaganda is somewhere between white and black propaganda. The source may or may not be correctly identified, and the accuracy of information is uncertain.”

    While these definitions are in themselves fairly ambiguous, one could argue that all forms of persuasion fall into the category of white propaganda at the very least, extending the general definition of propaganda to anything that argues an opinion.

    Source: Types of Propaganda https://thepropagandaproject.wordpress.com/types-of-propaganda/

  5. TJB said, on December 13, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Mike, can you define fake news? If not, is there any point even talking about it?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 13, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Quick and flawed definition: fake news is the intentional presentation of a claim as factual news the presenter believes is false and with the intent to deceive the audience.

      This definition can be shot apart in many ways, but does capture the basic idea. But, I look forward to someone offering a better one.

      Next time around, it might be the left benefiting the most from fake news.

      • WTP said, on December 13, 2016 at 9:04 pm

        Next time around, it might be the left benefiting the most from fake news.

        “Next time”… Dat some funny shit rite der. The left has benefitted from fake news for decades as has been pointed out right here by many besides myself, though see the WaPo article clip posted below as it references reporting on Trump re trade, etc.

        Five posts on this BS. The fake news story is fake news itself. You’ve been taken to the woodshed on this issue by every regular here and an additional couple of newbies. Does this give you any pause for thought? Hell, no.

      • TJB said, on December 13, 2016 at 10:24 pm

        Is there any evidence that Trump actually benefitted from fake news?

      • DH said, on December 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

        As I have indicated in other posts, I think that the most heinous kind of “fake news”, which follows your definition, comes from government sources to protect their own political hides. As such, I think that over the last eight years, the left has been the clear beneficiary of this kind of news.

        The narratives they have pushed – especially those about US involvement in foreign wars and the war on terrorism have been patently false – that terrorism is on the decline, that by killing Bin Laden we have cut the head off of Al Quaeda, that the Benghazi attacks were the result of anger over a videotape – have resulted in support of Obama and his administration.

        Further, the false narrative about gun violence – that we are in the midst of an epidemic of gun violence (when the facts show the exact opposite) have garnered support for increased gun control and background checks, collecting more and more data for the government to own and use – all precepts that are supported by the left.

        Obamacare is another – the string of lies that came out about that travesty are nearly endless – that your premiums will go down, that it is not a tax, that there will be no new taxes, that it will be revenue neutral, that 20 million more Americans will receive coverage, that if you like your doctor you will keep your doctor, and that medical decisions will not be made by bureaucrats – all helped to pass this legislation for the sake of Obama’s “signature plan” and his own political credibility – and all, it has turned out, were known to be false by the administration who spun and reworded and hedged and backpedaled to make sure no one missed the big lie of how great it was going to be.

        While both parties pad legislation, the Democrats are particularly good at putting Republicans in “no win” situations. Most recently, legislation was presented to extend unemployment benefits. This legislation had bipartisan support, but the Democrats wanted to borrow money to pay for it, while the Republicans wanted to finance it by cutting entitlements in other areas, or to use un-committed funds from the stimulus. The result was the narrative that the “Republicans are against extending unemployment benefits, that they don’t care about the poor, they only care about the greedy rich”.

        This kind of thing is the epitome of “fake news”. The campaign stuff is all populist bull, and in comparison, the falsehoods or exaggerations put forth by the Trump campaign are nothing within the context of the actual legislation that has been passed based on the overt lies of the current administration. So when you say “next time around”, well, it has already happened.

        • TJB said, on December 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm

          Excellent points. I could go on. The “epidemic” of rape on college campuses. That women are paid 77% of what men earn for doing the same job. That there is a “war” on women.

          All fake news. Sadly, Mike buys into nearly all of it.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm

          You are right to point out the state as a source of fake news. This has, as you indicate, been a bipartisan project. Under the Clinton administration, the government distributed propaganda pieces; Bush followed this practice and so on.

          In my critical inquiry class, I try to teach the students to be aware of how the state manipulates the news.

          • DH said, on December 15, 2016 at 7:40 pm

            So maybe you are right after all – that Trump did in fact benefit from fake news, and may be able to attribute his election to it. Not in the way you propose, though – but given the lies of the Obama administration with regard to so many of the issues we’ve talked about – terrorism, Obamacare, gun violence, etc, etc – and the history of lies and news manipulation by Hillary Clinton and her husband’s administration, the American public just said “Enough!” and threw that Hail Mary I mentioned. The “Law of Unintentional Result”.

  6. ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 13, 2016 at 9:21 am

    These recent articles written by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, are worth reading…

    The Fake News Fake Story http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-fake-news-fake-story/

    Did Russia Elect Trump? http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-russia-elect-trump/

  7. TJB said, on December 13, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Question of the day. What do the Dems fear more?

    a) that Trump will fail?

    or

    b) that Trump will succeed?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      You could ask the same question of Republicans.

      Trump is radically different from all other American presidents and not in good ways.

      • TJB said, on December 13, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        I don’t know, Mike. I still remember that you made a big deal about Romney’s high school antics. Seems to me that you were hallucinating about Romney then, and you are hallucinating about Trump now.

        I am not a Trump fan, but I don’t think he is “radically different from all other American presidents.”

        Do you think he would really do anything remotely as evil as the progressive hero Woodrow Wilson:

        When Wilson came to Washington he quickly instituted a purge of African-American federal workers in Washington and around the country. Where purges weren’t possible, federal workplaces were re-segregated, often with surreal and hideous results. Even more than Wilson, Wilson’s wife Ellen, a Georgia native, was a visceral racist who was shocked to see the limited level of integration then in place in the nation’s capital. She was reportedly especially disgusted to see black men and white women working in the same workplaces and took a personal role in pushing forward resegregation in Washington, DC.

        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/remembering-president-wilsons-purge-of-black-federal-workers

      • DH said, on December 14, 2016 at 9:58 am

        Trump has not taken office yet, so this statement falls pretty flat. You are basing it on what you think he might do, not on what he is doing or what he has done.

        I, for one, remain hopeful. He has toned down his campaign rhetoric substantially, he has filled important cabinet positions with women, he has declared that the US will radically steer its Mideast policy away from regime change and toppling leaders, he has vowed to ally with any nation who will join the fight against terrorism, and remains steadfast in his determination to vet immigrants coming into this country.

        As for the “Racist Misogynist Xenophobe” image the left has of him, I would point to Woodrow Wilson, as TJB has done, or to Lyndon Johnson in more recent history for comparison – and with regard to his treatment of women I’d suggest that JFK and Bill Clinton did far worse in abusing their power to take advantage of and abuse women. FDR blocked the visas of Germans and Japanese during WWII.

        If you are talking about his experience in government, you are right – there never has been an American president with less – but some of us view that as a pretty good thing. Those with the most – James Buchanan and Richard Nixon – didn’t exactly shine.

        • WTP said, on December 14, 2016 at 10:56 am

          Eisenhower was similar in lacking government experience though I’m sure many leftists would quibble about that by saying military and government are the sam. Though quite obviously, in spplication, they are quite different.

          You are aware that your references to abuses taken by Bill Clinton, JFK, and LBJ are exactly what Mike, etc. refer to when speaking of “Fake news”? At least in the context of those times. And for many leftists applies even to today.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm

            Eisenhower had extensive high level military experience, qualifying him as Commander in Chief. He also had many virtues that Trump lacks.

            • wtp said, on December 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

              Yeah, like I said, Ike was lacking government experience though I’m sure many leftists would quibble about that. And here you come with the tired argument that I predicted.

              The knock on Ike from the Dems in his day, when he was still PE, was that he’ll find out it’s not like the army where people jump when a general gives orders. And please don’t pretend like you would have liked Ike and his “many virtues”. You have no idea the baggage he handled. But he did have executive experience. Something that is beyond your ken, as I’ve pointed out here many, many, many times before. I generally don’t like to play this game because it’s silly and the variables are beyond comprehension, but all that aside I feel quite confident in stating you would have been in Stevenson’s corner all the way.

              Donald Trump has extensive executive experience running a very large business, constructing buildings in a part of the country where red tape is the thickest, getting things done where government couldn’t (Central Park ice rink being the more well known example). What was HRC’s executive experience? Running a government agency for a couple couple years. And that itself was a disaster. Though “folks” like yourself refuse to admit it.

              But hey, why are you wasting time engaging me? DH, Joe Postove, and Larry Sanger (whom perhaps you know from OSU?) all raised very salient points rebutting this fake news narrative in far more eloquent and polite manner than I could ever do at this point. You don’t like me. I’m mean. But why are you dodging them?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm

          Given his track record (such as it is) things look bad. But, he should be condemned or praised as president for what he does as president; so I’m waiting to see. Of course, what he does now is also subject to assessment.

          • DH said, on December 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm

            You say you are waiting to see, but you are predicting doom and gloom and already criticizing him. With regard to what he does now being subject to assessment, well, I would think that some of those activities would be supported by you and others on the left. For example,

            In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article indicating that he and Janet Yellen are on the same page regarding interest rate increases; “He wants low unemployment and faster economic growth, and she’s happy to err on the side of both via the most docile course of interest-rate increases on record”. This is a continuation of the Fed policy for the last eight years.

            Also from the WSJ, Trump is quoted as saying “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks. After wasting $6 trillion in Middle East fights, our goal is stability, not chaos”. This is something that the left has been clamoring for since 2003 and before, and is one of the most strident criticisms of GW Bush.

            He just made a very controversial appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. It remains to be seen whether this appointment will meet with the approval of Congress given the bipartisan opposition to it, but Tillerson is an outspoken proponent of carbon taxes due to anthropogenic global warming, a concept he has supports as true – a departure from Republican and right-wing ideology and a favorite of the left.

            His appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education should meet with your approval as an educator, given her support of charter schools and school choice.

            He has declined to engage in the issue of same-sex marriage, saying that while he would have supported individual state legislation on the matter, the Supreme Court has ruled on it and it is a done deal.

            He has met with Barack Obama, the two have forged an unlikely alliance, and he is open to listening, staying in touch, and forging a rapport during the transition period. This far, far more than Obama granted GW Bush. He has dissuaded his supporters from booing when he mentions the president’s name – and “has come to value Obama as one of only five living Americans who knows firsthand what it is like to be president and who can give a realistic assessment of the job”, aides said. “As he fills out his administration, Mr. Trump has called Mr. Obama to ask what specific positions entail so that he can match people to the job”, they said.

            I have said before, as I say now – I was not a supporter of his during his campaign and I have had similar criticisms of his past. I strongly believe that he was elected NOT because of “fake news”, but because undecided Americans were truly sick and tired of Washington power brokers running the country for their own personal gain, and Hillary Clinton has gained a reputation for being one of the most powerful and embedded of that ilk. That reputation has very little to do with Trump, as those against Hillary have been watching her for decades. His election was a “Hail Mary”, a hopeful last ditch effort. Staunch liberals with whom I regularly talk politics were saying in September and October, “With Hillary, we know exactly what we will get – and as much as I dislike Trump, at least there is a chance with him.”

            Anyway – it would be nice to see you actually wait and see, and assess what he is doing now with a little bit of detachment; I think you might find some things you agree with.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm

              Not a fan of Betsy DeVos, but I will agree that I do not disagree with everything Trump has done/says he will do.

              I do hope that he drains the swamp (as promised), makes things better for the middle class, and makes America great(er).

              I do worry that he will run the government with the main focus of enriching the Trump family and boosting his ego, at the expense of the rest of us.

  8. TJB said, on December 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I’m sure whole books will be written about the psychological response of the Dems to the election loss. It is really something to behold. The Republicans at least gave Obama a few months and it was only when they were frozen out (“I won”) that they turned on him. The Dems are already trying to undermine Trump.

  9. Anonymous said, on December 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    It still remains incumbent upon the reader to determine whether or not to believe and/or act on the story; you are making a big deal about a story that was never really published in a credible news source – in fact, it was mostly spread via social media and on alternative sites that are no different than the supermarket tabloids.

    However, in the MSM and those outlets that purport to be credible and responsible, the salient point they seem to want to make is that this particular misinformation was spread by “Trump Supporters” and “White Supremacists”. The real issue, the takeaway that we are all supposed to leave with is not that the “fake news” sites are all that credible or meaningful, but that they are believed to be true by the great unwashed, the “basket of deplorables” that have gotten us into the fix we’re in now.

    The real harmful “fake news” that we need to watch out for is not that which is begun by trolls and repeated on fly-by-night tabloid web sites, but that which originates in the mainstream or by government itself.

    Take, for example, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula – the filmmaker who was blamed for the Benghazi attacks. One absolute truth that has come from the Benghazi hearings is that Hillary Clinton never once believed that the video was responsible for the attacks, yet she and others in the administration continued to sell that to the American people for their own political protection and, if possible, gain. Nakoula went to prison to protect this lie – or, in modern parlance, “Fake News”.

    It is much more believable that this story was concocted (or at least promoted) to continue the narrative that “Terrorists are On The Run” put forth by the Obama administration in the months before his re-election.

    The railroading of Obamacare was based on fake news – while it has been argued that those who pushed it through were merely “wrong”, it has become evident that they knew all along that it would become the failure that it is, and it is not unlikely that the story was created to make a case for fully government run, single payer healthcare. Even today, the results of two years of full implementation of the ACA are concocted and twisted to make the plan look like something other than it really is. Considering the source and the implied credibility thereof, I consider this to be the epitome of “Fake News” for political gain. The musings of a “mom’s basement dweller” posting on Twitter about conspiracy theories pales in comparison. Far more people have been and will continue to be hurt by the Government’s fake news and the MSM’s complicity than in any tabloid.

    http://tinyurl.com/jr8wswl

    (Before you dismiss the above article because it comes from a “Right Wing Thinktank”, follow the internal links and see that the statistics come from government publications.)

    Of course, Obamacare and Benghazi are only two examples of the dangerous Fake News that comes from our government that we are naturally inclined to believe. Nor is it limited to the left and the Obama administration – they are an easy target only because they are current and such willing participants.

    In an earlier post I made the point that the government is specifically prohibited from making any judgement on the veracity of the free press, and using that judgement to stop that press – but we, the people, are the opposite – it is not only our right but our obligation to make sure that the government is not acting in a tyrannical, self-serving way; if they continue to put out fake stories for their own political gain, it is up to us to recognize this and act.

  10. WTP said, on December 13, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Can’t be fake news. It’s from the Washington Post…

    …All of us, whatever our political attitude, have read what we regard as essentially false or inaccurate or wrongheaded stories in mainstream news sources. Does that make the reporters of these stories perpetrators of fake news? Surely not, as they were trying, however imperfectly, to report the truth. That’s not much comfort to the people and institutions these false or inaccurate stories damaged, however, and indeed they are entitled to regard this new term “fake news” with a degree of derision.

    Let’s get at the problem by asking this question: Which is more dangerous — the entirely fabricated story your ornery uncle links to on Facebook, or the story we read in a respectable news source containing an important and substantially false claim? The fabricated story that exercises your uncle is dangerous in its way, but it’s unlikely to sway anyone’s opinion about the subject. The only people inclined to believe the hoax headline “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide” are those who already loathe Clinton. The story may intensify hatred, but it doesn’t alter opinion or allegiance.

    The false or inaccurate story published in a mainstream venue, by contrast, does the opposite. Maybe the story consists of mostly true statements, but it’s built on an egregiously false premise. Or maybe it includes a key line that infers far more than the facts allow. Or it presents a tendentious interpretation of the facts. Take this sentence, published last week in the New York Times about House Republicans breaking with Trump over the latter’s trade policies: “He [Trump] repeatedly insisted that trade deals had displaced American workers and harmed the economy, upending two centuries of American economic policies that held trade up as a good thing, a position that Republicans have pushed in recent decades.” The latter half of the sentence (a) implies that Trump opposes not just disadvantageous trade deals but trade itself; and (b) suggests that American policy has unswervingly favored free trade for 200 years. Both are false, but the uncareful reader may easily imbibe one or both without realizing it, so subtle is the misinformation and so authoritative the source.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rise-of-fake-news-is-an-indictment-of-americas-real-newsrooms/2016/12/12/9ccd7ac2-be52-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.d86aa1ce1b19

    Heh, tendentious. I do believe that could be Mike’s middle name.

  11. WTP said, on December 13, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    And more on fake education…

    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/30324/

  12. nailheadtom said, on December 13, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    There’s plenty of background to the fake news business. The UN and US have sponsored training programs for Palestinian journalists http://www.un.org/press/en/1999/19991019.pi1188.doc.html who then produce media accounts of phony funerals: http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/05/03/jenin.tape/ http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/11/15/gaza-man-fakes-injuries-to-create-anti-israel-media-bias-heres-the-video-evidence/

    The NYC has experience with Jason Blair and others producing fictional news accounts.

    The latest pathetic journalistic performance, a lie by Rolling Stone magazine, resulted in a $3 million award to a University of Virginia administrator; http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/article_1feb2b51-0bbf-5393-a9bb-6be0a398bac0.html

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 14, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Rolling Stones’ story was a paradigm case of fake news-a complete disregard of basic methodology and ethics.

  13. ajmacdonaldjr said, on December 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    “Sometime circa mid-November, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat (i.e., the beginning of the end of democracy), the self-appointed Guardians of Reality, better known as the corporate media, launched a worldwide marketing campaign against the evil and perfidious scourge of “fake news.” This campaign is now at a fever pitch. Media outlets throughout the empire are pumping out daily dire warnings of the imminent, existential threat to our freedom posed by the “fake news” menace. This isn’t the just the dissemination of disinformation, propaganda, and so on, that’s been going on for thousands of years … Truth itself is under attack. The very foundations of Reality are shaking…” Continue reading: Manufacturing Normality http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/06/manufacturing-normality/

  14. WTP said, on December 17, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Here’s more fake news with REAL consequences, unlike PingPong Pizza. No idea wtf is with the kangaroo head, maybe that’s the fake part? Long but worth watching. Anyone want to comment? Anyone? Bueller? Mike?

  15. WTP said, on December 19, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Here’s a story about Fake News ™ that goes back to 2004. Seems there’s tons of this stuff…

    It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

    Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

    http://deadline.com/2016/11/shocked-by-trump-new-york-times-finds-time-for-soul-searching-1201852490/

  16. TJB said, on December 20, 2016 at 12:51 am

    All this concern about “fake news” is just the Dems trying to do an end run around the first amendment.

    • WTP said, on December 20, 2016 at 6:56 am

      If by “end run” you mean “obliterate”, I agree.

  17. WTP said, on December 21, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Look what I found! Even more Fake News ™

    Remember the story about swastikas and one “KKK” message being spray-painted on Long Island university buildings? Widely attributed to “Trump’s followers.”

    Hoax — the perp has been arrested, and he’s Pakistani. Oh I guess the crime is real enough, and the guy is probably anti-semitic. But it has no relationship to the phantasmal “Trump Voters on Hate Rampage” Narrative.

    Remember the black church that was burned down, with “VOTE TRUMP” scrawled nearby in case any one missed the likely motive? Again, a race-based hoax — the arson was real enough, but the perp was black and a member of the church itself. The “VOTE TRUMP” graffiti was intended to either disguise his hand and his motive, or to play into the media’s “Trump’s Cycle of Violence” storyline.

    And as John Sexton highlights, a Michigan student claimed that Trump supporter tried to yank off her hijab and threatened to set her on fire. The police categorized that “hate crime” as “ethnic intimidation,” but they now categorize it as “filing a false police report.”

    They’re hiding the woman’s identity — as Glenn Reynolds often notes, the media and politicized law enforcement brass continues treating known hoaxsters as genuine victims, concealing their identity as if they’d actually been raped, threatened or assaulted, even after they are formally charged with filing a false police report.

    That’s three events in a day — and I’m not even getting into things that just happened days or a week ago.

    But the media, pretending to be on a crusade against Fake News, gleefully reports these false claims when they’re made and then gets very quiet indeed about publicizing the finding that they were fake news all along.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/367500.php

    • TJB said, on December 21, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      The “real” news is the fake news.

  18. WTP said, on December 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    More flaky-fakey…

    NEW YORK (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer is making his case to be the new “secretary of offense.”
    Switzer, a college football hall of fame coach who led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl title in 1996, visited with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday in New York.

    Switzer joked that Trump wants to “make the wishbone great again.”

    “Donald plans to run with the ball. And I know a lot about rushing the football. So that’s why I’m here,” Switzer told reporters before his meeting with Trump.

    http://trib.com/sports/barry-switzer-makes-case-to-trump-for-secretary-of-offense/article_1359d5de-3f50-5366-94cc-e8380c41bcdd.html

    You may want to read the story while it lasts. Several links on Google to ABC News and such came up empty for that time frame. ABC (and AP) now reports the story thusly…

    Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer figured when he told reporters he was going to be the Secretary of Offense for Donald Trump he assumed they knew he was joking about meeting the president-elect.
    “I think they need to learn the cabinet positions,” Switzer told The Associated Press by phone Thursday.
    He was in New York City last week when he dropped by Trump Tower to see all the action around the building, which has been under heavy security since the November election.

    Switzer stopped to speak with reporters and threw them off track by saying he had met with Trump, whom he has known for more than 20 years. And when he was leaving the building it looked as if he were getting off the elevators after visiting someone. Actually, he had gone to a Starbucks.

    “I thought most of them knew when I told them he was making me Secretary of Offense,” Switzer said.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/switzer-pulls-media-meeting-trump-44349123

  19. WTP said, on December 28, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Here’s some more fake news:

    Nearly 50% of Donald Trump voters believe Hillary Clinton is involved in pedophilia ring: poll
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/50-trump-fans-clinton-involved-pedophilia-article-1.2926098

    This “study” is, as usual with such things, highly flawed…i.e. BS. From the “methodoligy” of the report itself:

    Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in Internet panel using sam- ple matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, and region) was selected from the 2014 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2014 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement.

    Opt-in panels are those where the members have sought out the panel and signed up to take surveys, usually in order to earn cash or rewards. There is no way to determine if the respondents actually voted for Trump. There is no control to determine if respondents are lying about who they voted for. This is FAKE NEWS.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      “Imputed” seems problematic.

      All surveys have a lying problem; so rejecting a survey because people might lie would entail rejecting them all.

      I vaguely recall that the NY Daily News was a tabloid; but my memory is not what it used to…what was I writing?

      • WTP said, on December 28, 2016 at 9:34 pm

        Did you say something? The poll was by The Economist/YouGov. NYDN was referencing it. The Economist is a long time, well established “news” magazine. MSM. And FAKE NEWS.

        DH and TJ have made several relevant points in refutation of much of your more recent posts. Just a suggestion.

        • TJB said, on December 28, 2016 at 11:10 pm

          I read all the center-right blogs and I didn’t know about Pizzagate until I read Mike’s post. It strains credulity to believe the 46% of Trump voters even knew about Pizzagate, let alone believe it.

          After subscribing to the Economist for 10 years, I let my subscription lapse about 2 years ago. There was a reason.

          • WTP said, on December 29, 2016 at 1:34 pm

            Yeah, I first heard of this PPP thing from leftist sources and new Mike would be putting up a post on it shortly. I’m quite clairvoyant that way.

            You will note how Mike tries to dismiss this story as being irrelevant to FAKE NEWS as he “vaguely recalls” the NYDN is a “tabloid” (yet fourth-most widely circulated daily newspaper in the country). However when the sources for the FAKE NEWS he cries about are obscure, possibly even false-flag sources on FB or such, it’s a BIG CONCERN that may have SWUNG THE ELECTION!!!11!!!

            Also note “All surveys have a lying problem; so rejecting a survey because people might lie would entail rejecting them all.”, which glosses over the point that opt-in panels have a greater incentive for those opting-in to simply make stuff up. Throwing them in with far more professionally performed sampling methods. Not that I personally trust those either and consider both methods to be rather fake, but opt-in, internet sourced “surveys” are an extremely weak methodology. Mike won’t argue that though. Note that in his “reply” he has really said nothing.

            Mike’s job, for which he is paid with a good bit of taxpayer support, is teaching critical thinking…and ethics. Think about that.

            • WTP said, on December 29, 2016 at 1:36 pm

              “knew Mike”…not “new Mike”…obviously. I doubt there will ever be a “new Mike”. Leopards don’t change their spots. How silly.

  20. WTP said, on January 2, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Why, there’s so much of this #FAKENEWS it’s spilling over into the new year…

    #FakeNews: Social Justice Warrior College Newspaper the Washington Post Breathlessly Reports RUSSKIES HACKED OUR POWER GRIDZ!!!
    Then, over a series of edits, none of which acknowledged itself as a formal correction, they walked the story back into… one computer — a laptop not connected to the grid at all — having some malware on it of a type that is routinely purchased online by anyone who wants it.

    But tell us all about the Fake News, boys.

    The college newspaper The Washington Post is refusing to answer questions about its fact-checking procedures, especially regarding the fact-checking of misleading, clickbait #FakeNews headlines.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/367691.php

  21. WTP said, on January 2, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    And more #FAKENEWS …

    “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough took to Twitter Sunday to criticize a former CBS reporter for saying he partied with President-elect Donald Trump at his New Year’s Eve party.

    His tweet-storm targeted Sopan Deb, who covered Trump on the campaign trail and will soon be joining The New York Times as a culture writer. Deb posted a screenshot of a paragraph from a New York Times report that noted Scarborough and MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski’s presence at Trump’s Florida party.

    “Partied? You’re very good at pushing fake news. You should write for CNN. Apparently making up facts is fine if you’re writing about us,” Scarborough responded.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/312370-scarborough-lashes-out-at-cbs-reporter-for-saying-he-partied


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