The Real Deal on Fake News
Posted at 8:00h, 06 Jun 2017 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

The term ‘Fake News’ has been bandied about for a while now and quite a few of you have asked us to address it.

There are at least two categories of so-called fake news: staged fake news, which should be more accurately called a dramatization in some cases and marked as such, but not always, as in the case of ‘Rathergate, when former news anchor Dan Rather falsely reported a story, using faked documents to get his narrative across – documents which were proven to have been faked, yet which Rather later called ‘skewed but accurate’ (with his credibility shot, he ‘resigned’ from his anchor spot a year before his contract was over). This ‘Oxymoronic Journalism’ very much fits in with the latest iteration of the Fake News rubrick, which is something of a misnomer.

Truth be told, many media outlets and social networks/information sources, including both Facebook and Google, have an unmistakable agenda. Just this week Marc Andreessen stated that “Silicon Valley is extremely left-wing, extremely liberal,” claiming that the technology industry’s libertarian stereotype is largely inaccurate, and…criticiz(ing) his community for turning a blind eye at the middle of the country. “It’s really hard for a lot of people in Silicon Valley to even articulate the other side,” he said.

When one hears the term ‘Fake News,’ one is likely to dismiss the article, but perhaps not so if we were to call the so-called Fake News what it truly is:

Agenda Journalism.

Agenda Journalism is reportage where facts are suppressed, or go unreported, in order to fit the narrative. With that lack of objectivity, it is no longer true journalism.

Or creating pure fiction and passing it off as journalism, as with this staged CNN video of an anti-ISIS ‘peace group,’ captured by a citizen journalist, following the recent London attack. Yes, CNN was caught staging news. BBC also aired the video

While this piece is not about politics, we will use one of the latest hot button topic – the Paris climate accord – to illustrate our point.

MarketWatch reported that Elon Musk says he’s leaving White House councils as Trump quits Paris climate deal. What the article failed to disclose was that all of Musk’s companies are more or less focused on clean energy – Tesla Motors, solar panels, solar batteries – which would have made him a huge beneficiary of the pact. Still other articles claimed that by failing to sign the accord, which, for the record is non-binding and unenforceable, the US will fail to be a leader in clean energy, which will have economic consequences. So, does this mean that Musk will cease production of solar panels, batteries, and Teslas? Game over?

For the record, US Paid $1B to Green Climate Fund, Top Polluters Paid $0, including Russia, China and India. Another fact that’s often excluded in the talking points.

The Mic offered 5 Major Implications of Trump pulling out of Paris accord, including Leaving the agreement hurts potential job growth in the U.S.: “doubling down on coal will do little for job growth. As CBS additionally reported, more than twice as many people were employed in the solar sector than in coal mining in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A February study on the economic impact of clean energy also found that every $1 million spent on fossil fuels supports 2.65 jobs. Spending the same amount on renewables creates 7.49 jobs on average. “Thus each $1 million shifted from brown to green energy will create a net increase of five jobs,” the study concluded.”

Not said: That the coal industry has been decimated in recent years, while Solar and wind energy pack a wallop — in federal subsidies. “The (Institute for Energy Research) calculated federal subsidies and support per unit of electricity production from the EIA charts and concluded that on a per dollar basis, the solar industry is subsidized 345 times more than coal and oil and natural gas electricity production, and wind is subsidized 52 times more than more conventional fossil fuels.”

In 2015, the Huffington Post warned that the Weak Paris Agreement Unlikely To Achieve Climate Justice, as it was “totally lacking in legally binding mechanisms that will hold governments to emission limits that will stop global warming from reaching devastatingly high levels.”

From the same publication on the same Paris Accord, in 2017: Donald Trump Pulls U.S. Out Of Paris Accord In Crushing Blow To Climate Fight. Although, it might have been Investor’s Business Daily who summed it up best with this headline: The Paris Climate Deal Was A ‘Fraud’ And A ‘Sham’ … Until Trump Decided To Ditch It.

As we said, this is not about politics or one’s beliefs: it’s about Agenda Journalism and by extension, Agenda Policies, as the Wall Street Journal reported with Fake News and the Digital Duopoly Google and Facebook have created a dysfunctional and socially destructive information ecosystem. “Look at how Google games searches,” says the Journal. “A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time. How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm? All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook—100% of the time.

“…It is beyond risible that Google and its subsidiary YouTube, (ED. and Facebook, for that matter) which have earned many billions of dollars from other people’s content, should now be lamenting that they can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content. Monetizing yes, monitoring no—but it turns out that free money does come at a price.”

The price? Google could face a $9bn EU fine for rigging search results in its favour. “A seven-year investigation into the world’s most popular internet search engine was triggered by scores of complaints from both US and European rivals,” states the Independent.

Of course, since Google’s senior executives are supporters of the Paris Accord, we would suggest that they happily pay the fine, and that the EU, which also supports the accord, earmark that money for its implementation. Win-win.

In order to fight Fake News, Facebook announced not too long ago that they would go to outside fact checkers. Business Insider reports that these organizations will include Snopes, ABC, Politifact, and FactCheck.org, all of which have records of being somewhat less than balanced in their reporting. PolitiFact, for example, infamously said during the 2016 election that it was “mostly false” when Donald Trump claimed in a presidential debate that Hillary Clinton wanted “open borders,” despite the fact that Clinton is on the record at a paid speech saying “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”

‘Mostly false?’ You just can’t be a little bit pregnant. There’s either one line or two.

Here’s something to consider, to look at Agenda Journalism/Policies through a different lens: We’re All Guinea Pigs in a Failed Decades-Long Diet Experiment. “The change in dietary advice (by sugar industry-funded lobbyists in the 1960s) to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history,” says cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in Vice. The misinformation led to the spike in obesity and diabetes, the latter of which is the #7 cause of death in the world. Truth be told, the facts aren’t all in on global warming or carbon emissions, either. The voices of many top scientists have been silenced due to the Agenda.

Suppressing news outlets or science that do not go along with the narrative/agenda under the guise of Fake News is not a solution. Suppression never is and best to see it for what it is. Always good to look at who’s talking and what their agenda is. If the long-term and irrevocable (in many cases) damage done by the sugar industry lobbyists so long ago are any indication, good to get all of the fact. Truth be told, you just never know where that big fat lie might lead. Onward and forward.