The Free Press Versus Fake News: Should We Be Worried?
Several times over the past year I have posted something on Facebook and someone replied, “Fake news.” We are hearing this term more and more every day and this seems to be Trump’s favorite phrase.
Although the term may be new, the intent behind it isn’t. There has been an on-going effort by the Communist party to undermine our society by creating doubts, distrust in authority, and chaos to make it easier for them to then take control. It was all spelled out in a file titled Communist Rules for Revolution published in 1919 and obtained by our armed forces in Dusseldorf, Germany. Here are the instructions issued to those who would bring about revolution:
- Corrupt the young, get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex. Make them superficial, destroy their ruggedness.
- Get control of all means of publicity and thereby:
- Get people’s minds off their government by focusing attention on athletics, sexy books and plays, and other trivialitie[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]
- Divide the people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
- Destroy the people’s faith in their natural leaders by holding the latter up to contempt, ridicule and obloguy (strong public criticism or verbal abuse).
- Always preach true democracy but seize power as fast and ruthlessly as possible.
- By encouraging government extravagance, destroy its credit, produce fear of inflation with rising prices and general discontent.
- Foment unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil disorders, and foster a lenient and soft attitude on the part of government toward such disorders.
- By spacious argument cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues: honesty, sobriety, faith in the pledged word, ruggedness.
- Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext with the view of confiscation of them and leaving the population helpless.
Although this was published nearly a hundred years ago, it is very current today. Each point has been endlessly discussed in social circles and on cable news. We see examples of these points happening everyday but the one I’m most concerned about is item #2—get control of all means of publicity. Coming from a journalistic background I know words are important. What we say and how we say it can influence people’s minds and opinions. To quote an old saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
It has now been revealed that during the election cycle people were making up fantastic stories and publishing them on the web. I will call these people word factories because that is what they were. They were mindlessly putting together a string of words and making up ridiculous stories to bash a particular candidate or party. What this has done is create a great mistrust in all media. We don’t know what is the truth and what came from the word factories—or—fake news. Therefore, since we can’t trust the media we don’t know if what was reported about a political figure is true or not.
Or, at least, that is the plan from various nefarious groups. How can we combat this trend and defeat the perpetrators? By educating ourselves.
Don’t believe the lies being spread that reporters and news organizations are evil, nasty, bad guys. Being a reporter is a difficult job. Reporters do what their name implies, they report the news, they don’t manufacture it. Reputable reporters and news organizations dig, and dig, and dig to find the facts. Many times, public figures don’t want the facts, or whole truth, out for one reason or another. After the reporter writes the news story it goes to an editor who double and sometimes triple checks the facts. This is why government and public officials are wary of reporters. They know they can’t hide the truth from them. This is why reporters aren’t the most popular people in the room.
So how do we, the consumer, know if our news source is reliable or not? First check the source or news organization reporting it. If it comes from Joe Blow News then disregard immediately. If it comes from a known source such as Reuters, AP (Associated Press), a network news station or cable station such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. then it is fairly safe; but, beware that there might be a left or right slant to the presentation.
The current president and attorney general are even threatening to begin jailing reporters and loosening the libel laws. This is a very dangerous move. The initiative comes about because reporters are doing stories on information the administration does not want out and the reporters won’t reveal their sources.
Reporters never reveal their sources. Reporters give their word to protect their sources and many have gone to prison rather than renege on that promise. If they are hit with a libel suit the defense for libel is truth. If it can be proven in court that the information revealed in the reporter’s story is true that is all the defense needed.
The press is the watch dog over our three branches of government, that is why it is called The Fourth Estate. To protect this unofficial fourth leg of the foundation of our society, our founding fathers established the first amendment to the Constitution under the Bill of Rights—Freedom of the Press.
Now that there are attacks to this freedom we must be vigilante and educated and support the work the responsible news services are giving us. Let us respect, honor, and thank these hard-working people rather than ridicule them. What the public doesn’t see is that members of the press know their responsibilities. Along with freedom of the press comes responsibilities and reliability. Good reporters know this and constantly strive to report the news fairly and accurately.
If you think these discussions are new, this blog post is based on a newspaper clipping dated May 1, 1970. It begins:
If you think most of the problems that beset the world and our nation today just happened that way; if you think it is a natural trend born of the modern age; if you think that it will suddenly all dissolve when we, the people, get tired of being bothered, then read an excerpt from a file on Communist Rules for Revolution….these were the instructions issued to those who were to bring about world revolution.
Yes, this was 47 years ago; before cell phones, computers, HDTV, fitbits, iPads, etc. The modern age of 47 years ago was just as worried about world affairs as we are today. The Communist Rules for Revolution was written in 1919 as instructions for those who were to bring about world revolution. The newspaper article ends with words that are just as relevant today as they were in 1970:
Just fifty-one years later those who were given the plan of attack can check full 100 per cent success in their efforts. We are sure there is now another such set of instructions, going on from where these left off. This time past history presents full reason to be concerned, if not completely frightened. Your enemies are patient but thorough. Your greatest enemy, however is your disregard of the danger signs.
Here is a list of generally accepted top reliable news sources. The Associated Press is viewed as the most trustworthy:
New York Times
The Associated Press
Wall Street Journal
If you didn’t find your favorite news source there, here is another compiled by compiled by Business Insider in 2014 from the most trusted to the least:
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
THE NEW YORK TIMES
THE WASHINGTON POST
THE NEW YORKER
THE HUFFINGTON POST
THE COLBERT REPORT
THE DAILY SHOW
THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW
AL JAZEERA AMERICA
THE ED SCHULTS SHOW
THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM
THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW