The fake war on ‘fake news’

The real dam­age to the facts, day in and day out, is good re­port­ing, dis­ci­plined edit­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Robert Knight Robert Knight is a se­nior fel­low for the Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union.

The Democrats and their friends in the me­dia are vig­or­ously look­ing to ex­pose “fake news” in the wake of their dis­as­trous elec­tion de­feat in Novem­ber. Good for them. trou­ble is, they’re look­ing in the wrong places. They need to head to the near­est mir­ror.

The sheer amount of pro­pa­ganda gen­er­ated by the “main­stream me­dia” for left-wing causes has been sim­ply stun­ning. We knew the me­dia were over­whelm­ingly lib­eral, but they out­did them­selves this past elec­tion cy­cle, go­ing foam­ing-at-the-mouth ra­bid against Don­ald Trump and swoon­ing for Hil­lary Clin­ton.

They are still shocked, shocked that the Amer­i­can peo­ple dis­obeyed them and re­jected their can­di­date and thus spared Amer­ica more Obama-style so­cial­ist rule and govern­ment-en­forced cul­tural chaos.

So they’re at it again, try­ing might­ily to cast doubt on the le­git­i­macy of Mr. Trump’s vic­tory. First, they blamed FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey, who they had ef­fu­sively praised be­fore he launched a new in­quiry into 650,000 more emails found be­lat­edly on Hil­lary Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din’s hus­band’s com­puter. Next, armed only with spec­u­la­tion, they floated the idea that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had sin­gle­hand­edly en­sured a Trump vic­tory by hack­ing Amer­ica’s un­con­nected, off­line elec­tion sys­tem.

It’s got­ten so thick that, look­ing back, I now re­call spot­ting some­one who looked a lot like Mr. Putin him­self scur­ry­ing away from one of the booths in my precinct in North­ern Vir­ginia.

Next, they’ll be blam­ing the elec­tric­ity grid for pro­vid­ing the juice to run crooked vot­ing machines in Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin.

This doesn’t mean there’s not a prob­lem with “fac­toids” that re­ver­ber­ate in so­cial me­dia and con­spir­acy sites.

For ex­am­ple, a blog­ger took a photo of buses near a Trump rally in Austin, Texas and claimed on Nov. 9 that the ve­hi­cles had fer­ried an army of anti-Trump pro­test­ers. The blog post went vi­ral for two days be­fore lo­cal TV sta­tion KVUE and the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man re­ported that a com­pany had hired the buses for its an­nual con­fer­ence.

Fooled by a false re­port about a child sex ring linked to Hil­lary Clin­ton in a D.C. pizze­ria base­ment, an armed man ac­tu­ally stormed the place in an at­tempt to free the “vic­tims.” An­other re­port falsely claimed that thou­sands of peo­ple at a Trump rally in New York chanted, “We hate Mus­lims, we hate blacks, we want our great coun­try back.”

The lib­eral-lean­ing Poli­tiFact.org re­cently pro­claimed as “Lie of the Year” the en­tire genre of “fake news.” Mean­while, Face­book an­nounced a cam­paign to de­tect and flag “fake news” on its site with help from the left-lean­ing Snopes. com, along with ABC News, Fac­tCheck.org, Poli­tifact and the As­so­ci­ated Press. I’d be more ex­cited about this truth squad if some of them were not them­selves con­sis­tent vi­o­la­tors of fair­ness stan­dards in re­port­ing.

Bizarre in­ci­dents aside, the real dam­age to the truth, day in and day out, is the me­dia’s se­lec­tive re­port­ing, of­ten omit­ting or re­cast­ing de­tails that in­ter­fere with the pro­gres­sive nar­ra­tive.

Take the jobs data. For the last eight years, to boost Pres­i­dent Obama, they have du­ti­fully and un­crit­i­cally touted quar­terly job cre­ation re­ports and mis­lead­ing un­em­ploy­ment statis­tics that ig­nore the mil­lions who have given up look­ing for a job and aren’t counted.

Or the oft-re­peated claim that voter photo ID laws “sup­press” mi­nor­ity vot­ing de­spite no ev­i­dence of that.

The overt bias is easy to spot. It’s been around since ugly pic­tures of Richard Nixon were put up against GQstyle shots of the dash­ing John F. Kennedy. And, yes, some in the con­ser­va­tive press have run un­flat­ter­ing pho­tos of Hil­lary.

But it’s the mi­cro pro­pa­ganda that they spoon feed us un­der the sur­face that is in­sid­i­ously cor­ro­sive.

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel who do in­ter­ro­ga­tions are trained to spot “mi­croex­pres­sions” that tip them off when some­one is ly­ing. News con­sumers need to be just as adept at de­tect­ing mi­cro pro­pa­ganda. Here are a cou­ple of ex­am­ples.

A re­cent Wash­ing­ton Post Magazine cover piece about what to do in the event of a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent con­tained this sen­tence about un­likely kill zones: “A year ago this week, a mar­ried cou­ple killed 14 county work­ers gath­ered at the In­land Re­gional Cen­ter in San Bernardino, Calif.”

That’s all. There was no men­tion of their re­li­gion or well-doc­u­mented mo­tive, just that they were mar­ried. Watch out for those mar­ried cou­ples.

In Novem­ber, the me­dia mas­saged an FBI Hate Crime Statis­tics re­port to con­vey the no­tion that Amer­ica is awash in anti-Mus­lim big­otry. It’s not that they made up stats; they just em­pha­sized per­cent­ages in­stead of ac­tual num­bers.

Of 5,850 hate crime in­ci­dents re­ported to po­lice in 2015, anti-Mus­lim hate crimes ac­counted for only 257 in a na­tion of 325 mil­lion peo­ple. This was 103 more in­ci­dents than in 2014. The me­dia played up the “67 per­cent in­crease,” and ei­ther ig­nored or un­der­played other statis­tics, such as the 664 in­ci­dents tar­get­ing Jews.

More and more Amer­i­cans have got­ten wise to this sort of ma­nip­u­la­tion. No won­der they’re flee­ing ma­jor news­pa­pers and news magazines in droves and tun­ing out pro­gres­sive TV news net­works. If “fake news” fills some of the vac­uum, the me­dia have only them­selves to blame.

Bizarre in­ci­dents aside, the real dam­age to the truth, day in and day out, is the me­dia’s se­lec­tive re­port­ing, of­ten omit­ting or re­cast­ing de­tails that in­ter­fere with the pro­gres­sive nar­ra­tive.

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