Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Fake News" Stories Are Fake News Stories

Considering the hoopla surrounding supposed fake news, you'd think that misrepresenting facts has never been an issue in journalism before, yet fake news existed before the USA itself spewed from the wigged heads of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, et al.  What's new is the label "fake news."  Before the popularity of the internet, it was easy for conventional media to control what information reached the people, but since then, the relatively inexpensive mode (though the recent ruling negating net-neutrality may change this) of presenting alternative news reports has created a conundrum for corporate-owned news providers. 

With politicians & celebrities quick to defend the corporate media & defame the rest, it's no wonder that many Americans have bought into the notion that the only real news is the one presented by the "reliable" sources, such as Newsweek, Time, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN & the big three networks.  They are reliable in that you can rely on them to present a pro-American stance in nearly every circumstance, constantly vilifying & demonizing those who oppose the American view.  It is mostly through alternative news sources that we can learn what those in power don't want us to know. 

As a result, Google, Twitter, & Facebook, among others, have implemented filtering systems that limit what feeds you receive.  They don't want people to have to think about things themselves, to decide for themselves whether the reports are nonsensical or "fake."  These corporations have decided to take it upon themselves to help you form the right world view, i.e., that of the corporate elite.  Of course, there is fake news.  As I mentioned, much of what the mainstream media presents is "fake" in that it presents only a limited view, one that's heavily biased.  That you can't believe everything you read remains true regardless of the source.  But to label as "fake news" any report that doesn't fit the narrative that the mainstream media conveys is yet another attempt to control what we know, what we think. 

Most of us probably remember the oft-cited quote from newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst ("You furnish the pictures.  I'll furnish the war."), who helped sell the Spanish-American War to the American public.   Even if the quote itself is apocryphal, the fact is that Hearst's papers carried stories with a clear jingoistic edge.  Many Americans like to believe this example is an outlier, not the normal manner in which the press works.  Many have apparently already forgotten the media's role in selling the war in Iraq--er, make that wars.  Unfortunately, in most instances, the press operates as a propaganda tool, readily accepting & rarely questioning the government's account of facts.  Likewise, their audiences afford the media that same leniency, literally buying their stories wholesale.   

The current media Russia-hate blitz fits perfectly into the "propaganda model," developed by Noam Chomsky & Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, in which the authors analyze raw data from newspaper articles to determine the editorial biases of the so-called "free press."  The conclusions they reach, it would seem in every instance, is that the mainstream press (including, yes, The New York Times) rarely questions government reports, but instead buys & sells the government & its corporate masters' point of view to the public. 

Below are two links to The Real News interview with Max Blumenthal detailing many of the ways the media is misrepresenting the facts in the Russia-hate hysteria, as well as an article by Aaron Maté in The Nation, dispelling many similar assertions.  My hope is that, even if I'm preaching to the choir, reading or listening to them will give you a new, better informed perspective.