“Fake news” is the latest buzzword, straight from the Madison Avenue marketers, it is the latest term used to discredit anyone who questions authority or the official narrative. You can hear this echoed out from corporate mouthpieces far and wide. NPR, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News all parroting the fake news line, but then again they do seem to be subject matter experts on false or deceiving stories.
Break Down of the Media
The mainstream media has been asleep at the wheel for too long. The Fourth Estate, as it was once called, plays a crucial role in a democratic society. The Press is supposed to be the check on government power and abuse, and due to this it is the only industry protected under the Constitution. Where once the Press was responsible for exposing the government and powerful instituitons to their misdeeds, they are now intent on protecting them.
After the Iraq War debacle and the “WMDs” that never materialized, I lost most respect for the corporate press. Blatant lies, outright propaganda, and half-truths are what they constantly spew. Time and again the media has failed us, and 2016 appears to have been the straw that broke the camels back. If the Press did their job, we would never have had Clinton vs. Trump for president.
Trump and Clinton’s histories, character flaws, and horrible decisions they made over their careers would have sunk them early on, had they been reported on. The media, in its quest for ad revenue, let Trump on Television every chance they could get him. His stupid comments, obscene behavior, and outright ignorance didn’t disqualify him; it made him a prime fixture for TV ratings. Clinton on the other hand was the chosen one. They swept as much of her baggage under the rug until it was overflowing out of the front door. Once the wikileaks email dumps came out, and FBI reopened the investigation into her, they had no choice to cover it. It was too late then – we were stuck with her.
Fake News or Propaganda
There are a lot of memes and articles going around on this subject. Many of the “fake news” sites are in full on defense mode, saying that the mainstream media outlets are the “real fake news”. This is not true, they are propaganda outlets.
Propaganda - information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
“Men (people) are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions” Edward Bernays, Propaganda
Let’s make this clear, it’s all propaganda. CNN, Fox, NPR, MSM, NBC, all of it! These are the mouthpieces of the corporate elite used to shape public opinion. Noam Chomsky said it best in his studies of the media:
“The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.” ― Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media -
The MSM outlets are not fake news, they are propaganda. Effective propaganda uses truth and half-truths to spin a web of lies to further the agenda. Lets use the Iraq example. Was Saddam a dictator who committed atrocities on his people – yes. Did he have a large army and a hatred of the US – yes. Did he have stockpiles of gas and chemical weapons at one point – yes. Presenting these facts, and then making the leap to he currently has weapons and was involved with 9-11 is a believable story. Repeated time and again, it becomes “common knowledge’. To this very day it is shocking to see how many Americans still believe these lies.
So what is Fake News?
Fake News is blatantly fabricated. Beyond propaganda, these sites and stories are not based in truth at all. They literally make things up. I have been involved in the political realm of social media for four years, and can attest to this. I have been solicited by people asking me to spread their garbage pages in exchange for money. These sites are riddled with ads, have extremely misleading headlines, and are aimed at one thing – ad revenue. If I had no morals or intergrity I would have jumped on this band wagon. A fake story on Trump or Clinton could spread like wild fire and bring in big bucks. “Trump’s tax return revealed” with made up info would easily get a million shares. This is the world we live in.
The way these sites work is this – they make money from every person who opens the page. The more clicks they get, the more money they pull in. Some of the Facebook pages and blogs make upwards of $60,000 a month in ad revenue, mostly on fake or misleading stories. This is the true fake news. I think this list is pretty good at distinguishing between outright fake news, and those with misleading click bait headlines. It is worth distinguishing between the different levels of deception as this list does.
Main Stream Spin on a Real Problem
There is a real problem here with this blatantly false info, but what can be done? I think that Google’s solution to freeze these sites and pages ad sense accounts is a proper solution. Ad Sense is Google’s marketing tool that allows webpages to run ads and make money from their traffic. If they freeze their ability to profit from it, then many of these pages will simply cease to be. They do this to make money; if you cut their money stream the vast majority will stop posting this garbage.
The mainstream media and the elites who control them realize they are losing the battle for your mind. The credibility has been extremely damaged over the past decade and they do not want to lose control of the narrative. Due to this they are trying to paint many legitimate outlets as “fake news”. The main stream has labeled many legitimate sites that are dissenters and critiques of the system “fake”. Of course they are going after left leaning outlets while leaving true perpetrators if fake news intact. Counterpunch, and Black Agenda Report are two legitimate sites that come to mind. They have been labeled “fake” while bullshit artist like Alex Jones and his info wars site are not on the list.
What Can We Do?
As much as I dislike many of these propaganda outlets, I am not an advocate for clamping down on free speech. We must make sure that they do not censor outlets, even if we don’t agree with them. I think that cutting their ad accounts is a solid plan to combat the spread of fake news. In terms of the propagandist, I am not sure what can be done. The fairness doctrine used to allow for equal airtime for opposing views. Under this system no one had free reign to spout propaganda with out being rebutted. Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and similar actors spew outright lies and mistruths for hours a day without being disputed. Instead of trying to censor them, we should push to bring the fairness doctrine back!
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say It.” – Attributed to Voltaire