The big news of fake news is fading as we have come to accept that we really have no idea what is going on, at least when it comes to national and international issues.
I try to focus on what an authority has admitted or proclaimed, rather than on an accusation from someone else. For instance, Hillary Clinton said that if she is in charge she would ignore ideology and utilize practicality in policy decisions. I heard this on the radio but never found the quote on paper or online. Find a way to explain how the ends justifying the means has proven to be beneficial long term.
The idea that mainstream media is more reliable than alternative sources may be comfortable but it still reeks of uncertainty.
There are many times through history that mainstream reports have been proven wrong. Some reports we hear of past events are dismissed as “revisionist history.” But the beauty of a second look is that it can reveal the truth as well as distortions.
One instance of a lazy media simply reading a press release with no vetting of the facts is when The New York Times reported August 5, 1964, “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory attacks against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.” Vietnamese gunboats never attacked a U.S. Destroyer. Poor reporting by so-called respected media cost almost 60,000 American, and millions of Vietnamese lives. Public opinion favored a war based on lies.
The initial report in the New York Times about the famous My Lai massacre of March 16, 1968 stated, “American troops caught a North Vietnamese force… killing 128 enemy soldiers in daylong fighting.” It was not until November 20, 1969 that we learned that 507 women, children, and old men had been gunned down along other unspeakable acts. (There were heroes on the scene, by the way. Among them was Hugh Thompson, who saw the carnage from a helicopter and landed to stand in front of surviving villagers, daring “C” Company to take him out as well.)
Just think, it was twenty months that the lies in the New York Times were taken to be truth.
I found a shocking admission in a New York Times editorial of May 26, 2004. There is a long list of stories presented as gospel that were later debunked. I’ve got to praise The Times for admitting this.
The Times admitted that much of their reporting leading up to and during the invasion of Iraq, “depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors, and exiles bent on “regime change” in Iraq.”
“Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”
So the chaos, death, and ongoing destruction in the Middle East can be blamed, to a large extent, on a media who copies and pastes press releases before it investigates the facts. The Times doesn’t have an exclusive here. William Randolph Hearst is well known to have fabricated news to his own and his cronies benefit many years ago.
The important lesson here to is have our government restrained from such impulsive action through constitutional process instead of having Congress, in a way as lazy as the media, pass their responsibility off to an executive branch that is not even close to prepared for such important decisions. A debate in Congress among representatives who will have to look in the eyes of constituents as history unfolds could possibly insulate us from a media that has proven itself incapable of enabling a fully informed electorate.