Fake News: You Get What You Pay For

The problem in America is not fake news; it’s not journalists with an agenda, it’s not secret backroom meetings of newspaper editors crafting the most critical, or the most praiseworthy, headlines about the President.

OrwellWe have met the enemy, and it is ourselves.

The New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the other media outlets are for-profit businesses. If nobody buys a newspaper or places ads in the paper to reach those who still buy them, they close.

Same with electronic media. If nobody buys ads on Fox or CNN or MSNBC, they cannot survive. The press provides a product to consumers. Demand drives decisions on content. The old print adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” still applies.

Americans want a flashy headline with not too much reading or attention draining effort to think about things.

They want a simple statement of a “truth” and damn the corroboration or facts.

“The President’s economic policy is driving the best economy in decades.”

Excellent, just as I knew he would. Time to switch to ESPN for the critical stuff.

“The President’s economic policy is the worst in decades, driving the debt to record heights.”

Ah, a disaster. Just like I knew it would. Time to Instagram my neighbor’s cat licking wine from a discarded bottle. LOL, ROFL, IMHO

The dumbing down of much of America has been slowly eroding our society for years. Our idea of the perfect news story is one that holds our attention span for milliseconds, reinforces pre-conceived beliefs and then switches to the famous for being famous, or sports, or Antartica’s Got Talent.

Our society is slowly disappearing into a head down, cell-phone screen hypnotized, zombie-like shell of its former self; insulated and cut-off from any intellectually challenging effort to think.

The ideal news channel is a 24-hour drive-by of a car accident. I can get a quick view of things. I don’t want to see any blood or body parts (unless it is of an opposing opinion.) It doesn’t interfere with my commute or plans for the day.  Then lets me carry on with my life.

Much like the time President Bush, Jr. announced Americans should continue going to the malls while American soldiers fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There’s nothing to concern ourselves with here. We got this. Don’t worry about it.

The President doesn’t like criticism. Who does? But if he didn’t understand the Presidency is a lightning rod for criticism, he shouldn’t have sought the job.

And remember this, George Orwell may not have been good with dates about when we would reach this point. But, he was prescient in seeing the danger of the government deciding what is real and what is fake.

It’s not the omnipresent Big Brother we need fear, it is our own surrender to mediocrity in thinking about the realities of this country and our responsibility to stay informed by a broad spectrum of ideas and opinions.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

                                                                                                            George Orwell

 

 

Fake News: Terrorizing America

There’s a new boogie man in America, fake news. Listening to the rumble and rancor, fake news is either a scourge threatening our very survival or something worse.

Like sheep being fed our own manure, we wallow in ignorance hoping someone else points out the problem.

Fake news is the Anti-Christ and we need to find a way to defeat the dark one.

We do not want to give up our Candysmushed, JPEGged, Youtubed, hashtagged, emoji laden online party where anyone can pretend to be profound, tough, and brilliant.

It is our place where all share their latest ailments, McLunches, or rage against the unfairness of love. Facebook is sacred and all that is holy. It is the glue that binds society. Google is the god of all knowledge. The modern Oracle of Delphi.

The information highway is littered with fatalities of folly.

Do not suggest we educate ourselves or our children, that’s the job of teachers. A job they’ve sabotaged because their union is engaged in a conspiracy not to educate our children but to turn them into transgendered robots. It’s true, I read it online. Or it might be fake.

I need somebody to figure this out for me.

We need new laws, new statutes, new prisons, and probably a new federal agency like Homeland Security to hunt down, capture, or destroy those who spread fake news.

We can re-purpose GITMO.

If you believe the fake news, the terrorists win.

It won’t be easy. Separating the fake from the merely depressing is fraught with difficulty.

The problem is defining fake news. How do we decide?

For most people, news is fake if it is about someone they support but the absolute truth if it is about those they detest.

The idea that Trump engaged in the tinkle sprinkle brought delight to those who oppose him. It might explain the color of his hair. They KNEW it was true because the guy is a sexual predator. Nothing fake there.

Or, the bodies piling up around Hillary Clinton HAD to be murder most foul. Look at the evilness that oozes from the woman. It MUST be true.

None of these stories, so far, have any corroboration to them. To some, they are fake, to others gospel. As someone may or may not have said, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I will say this, it strains credulity that the CIA, FBI, NSA ALL conspired to fake the yellow stream story. You put those agencies in a room and they argue about what date it is. If they agree on something, there must be a very good reason.

But that’s beside the point.

What happened to my country? A country that once was a bright shining light. That city on the hill. That beacon of rationality, thoughtful discourse, and intelligence.

A country that succeeded because of our ability to disagree on approaches but not goals. A place where the art of compromise was a virtue, not a vice.

President Kennedy, in his inaugural address, said. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Kennedy never imagined that the nation we need fear most would be our own.

Today’s American wants no one to stand in opposition to them, refuses to bear even the slightest burden, takes offense at the slightest disagreement, and does not value intelligence enough to separate nonsense from that which matters.

Today’s America is afraid of listening to other ideas, thoughts, or concepts out of fear.

We are afraid to learn, afraid to grow, afraid to expand our horizons beyond that which we are most familiar. We cling to our positions not because of evidence but despite the lack of it.

We need to protect ourselves from everything. We no longer have that spirit to do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard and need be done.

We see the big bad bully everywhere. The National Enquirer used to just be amusing, who knew it was also dangerous?

If Americans want a government to protect them from everything, who will protect them from the government?

There’s a fine line between protection from false ideas and prohibiting ideas that challenge the status quo. (See the Declaration of Independence. You can Google it, of course.)

Have we lost the ability to think for ourselves? Have we abdicated our ability to evaluate, measure, analyze, and sift through information and draw a logical conclusion?

Is fake news a problem? Not if one bothers to think. Is that too much a burden to bear? One might think so.

Want to make America great again? Go find our common sense, courage, and rationality.