All of a sudden, everyone’s worried about “fake news.” The real media are overwhelmed with stories about how people are being misled. This is new? Pishposh!
Fake news has been a coin of the realm since Orson Welles landed his flying saucers in New Jersey, one of which deposited the guy we’ve been calling Chris Christie among others. (He was the big Green Man who said “take us to your leader.”)
Who would believe such drivel? And where does it come from? Troublemakers on social media. What’s Facebook’s responsibility in sorting out the truth? Should fake news be banned? By whom? By what standard?
And what is the responsibility of the real media here?
No one believed Confidential Magazine. Few believe the National Enquirer -- even when it’s right. The answer: many.
Who believes Blightbot? Who believes the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report? The answer: many.
Harry Hapless, 12- year old executive editor of the East Acne Morning Crawl and News Director of radio KFOL scans the internet each noontime, looking toward tonight’s lead story and tomorrow morning’s front page.
This headline jumps out from the Our Times.us website: COMEY DEATH RULED A SUICIDE.
Comey maybe would have done us all a favor by duct taping his two typing fingers, but he (a) didn’t take his own life and (b) isn’t dead.
This is followed by “COMEY SUICIDE STAGED? POLICE SUSPECT MURDER.”
Which is followed by “COMEY MURDER ORDERED BY CLINTON DEATH SQUAD.”
Fortunately, most fake news is relegated to the slag heap we call politics. But what if it weren’t.
From “Insider News:” A council of highly regarded fortune tellers and ghost hunters has determined that the earth is flat.
The story trends #1 on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone knows this story is circulating. But the East Acne Morning Crawl and KFOL decide to be fair and balanced. Their headline: “Shape of the earth in Doubt.”
Real newsies would immediately fact check, obtain and display satellite imagery showing the earth is round. But the proof wouldn’t convince the listeners of KFOL.
If Modern Grocer reported that Tyson recalled x-thousand chickens because their diet of peanuts was a threat to thousands of people with peanut allergies, you can bet everyone would be checking with regulators and the company.
We’d soon know the truth.
Politics is one of the few industries not subject to that kind of scrutiny.
So if Congress Critter Jones tells the Morning Crawl she gets no money from the NRA, it can write a story about how she supports gun control, right? Wait up. Maybe she gets no money from the gun lobby because she’s a long time supporter and doesn’t need the customary bribe.
Politics is exempt from reality.
Some people wonder why we vote for such candidates and why better people don’t step forward.
A US Senator from New York, retired by the voters some time back, says he doesn’t want the pay cut. Others are more interested in doing something that isn’t akin to swimming through Vaseline with his mouth open.
So the pond scum that goes onto the public dole by winning office joins or helps further create the alternative reality in which these people live.
Bottom line: there are reliable sources and those that aren’t. The reliable ones are likely to be something you know of. They have reporters writing stories, editors editing them and when they screw up -- and they all do -- they run corrections… or broadcast them.
So as a public service here are some reliable sources, news outlets that are generally truthful and unlikely to try to put one over on you:
Newspapers, Magazines and Agencies:
--The New York Times
--The Washington Post
--The Wall Street Journal (except the editorial page)
--The New York Daily News
--The Los Angeles Times
--The Boston Globe
--The Associated Press
--AFP in English (France)
--DPA in English (Germany)
--The New Yorker
Broadcasters and Websites:
Fox (radio only)
Why wasn’t “my favorite source” listed? I’m waiting to hear from readers of The Economist, the Daily Beast, the Huffpost, Yahoo News, Google News, The Christian Science Monitor, UPI, The Washington Times, the Weekly Standard and Buzzfeed.
The quick answer is they are either unreliable or have an ax to grind and aren’t up front about it.
This is not meant as a comprehensive or all inclusive list. But these are the kinds of outlets that are least likely to lead you astray.
Perhaps you have a good local TV station or newspaper you know to be reliable. That’s less and less likely these days. So beware.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2016