“FAKE NEWS” IS NEITHER NEW OR AN ORIGINAL CONCEPT
As I was about to write yet another treatise on the foolishness of “fake news”, I want back thru the archives and found this comment from 25 October 2013. I present it now in it’s entirety and without editing, as it was more than a little prescient on what was about to become a sad part of our national discourse.
The takeaways are the same today as they were five years ago. The same ones I talk about at select guest speaking and Keynote speaking stops with “The Undefeated Image” series. We are still bombarded by fake, clickbait and partisan members of what I now refer to as the “Illegitimate Press”. Most of those are websites that wouldn’t know journalism or journalistic ethics if it bit them in the nose. The worst offenders are those who have “news” in their title somewhere and are nothing more than aggregating services linking to partisan stories.
Thankfully, many of those have either failed or are on the way out. But, there are still those today who make this column all the more interesting and poignant to read these years later.
MISTAKES OF THE PAST REMAIN MISTAKES OF THE PRESENT
This isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about not being taken for a sucker. And it’s a clear lesson in how viral media forces the intelligent to think twice, even three or four times, before marking something immediately as fact.
Having been in the broadcast news media from a time when getting it right was more important than getting it on the air first, I have this nagging tendency to seek out more than one source for my news. It’s especially helpful here in the 21st century, where we are bombarded every second of every day with thousands of outlets delivering news designed to fit their mold, their opinion, and their cause. When I read a story, no matter if it’s from a network news sources or one of the exhaustive “new wave” news sites and outlets, I go in search of the same story from other outlets for a few reasons. To insure I’m getting more than one side of the story, to verify facts, and to then get a handle on how each outlet reports the news. It helps to know what’s behind the curtain.
Which brings us to this cautionary tale about being duped by the overwhelming wave of fake news, whether it’s comedy, satire, or just someone’s attempt to begin the spread of lies, innuendo, rumor and self-serving publicity. The Internet is chock full of sites that will spit out “news” that looks and sounds so real to those who are gullible enough to blindly believe, it immediately takes viral wing and becomes a flashpoint. Agreeing or disagreeing with a story, shocked at the very nature of the report, links and tweets ring out seeking to stoke the outrage among like-minded believers. Jamming not just social media, but our personal conversations with this “news”, starting more than a few heated debates. While debate is good and necessary, there’s just one problem.
This “news” is anything but. It’s fake. Fraudulent. Made up. Comedy. Satire. NOT REAL. No basis in fact. If you fall for it, start spitting it out as Gospel, then a few things have occurred.
TAKING THE BAIT AND HELPING THE FRAUDS CASH IN
First, you have taken the bait just as the author hoped you would. You fell for it. You read it, heard it, listened to it, never questioned for one second the accuracy of the story, and stoked the viral fires. You were, in the end, just as gullible as the author hoped you would be.
Second, you damaged your credibility. That speaks to your image and reputation.
Third, you gave credibility to the author and likely increased traffic to their site, thus potentially making them more money and certainly upping their popularity. Often, news such as this comes from sites with names that should raise a bevy of red flags from the first second. They’re either not top notch legitimate news sources, those who have not created a track record of reporting the news in an unbiased and factual fashion, or those who just by reading a few lines and notes from the site you can easily spot as satirical or radical. In any case, not where you should expect to get solid news from. Certainly not the kind of sites you want to quote and use as fact.
The Rush Limbaugh “quote” we discuss here was satire. Limbaugh never said it. The web site in question is a known as a satirical site in the “news” vein of “The Onion”, a site where nothing is factual and everything is there as comedy. Yet this “story” was picked up by millions as fact, regurgitated, tweeted, posted and debated as fact. I ran across a number of Facebook posts from people in my network who took it as absolute fact.
Which brings us to the very important lesson here.
When you’ve been duped, admit your mistake. Don’t compound the error by trying to pass off blame or change the subject, as plenty of people did when I pointed out they were wrong and using a phony story as a basis for their anger. Your image takes a serious hit if you continue to justify your comments based on something proven to be phony.
Don’t leave the impression you’re all about the furor and not about the facts.
FALLING FOR THE FAKE AND REFUSING TO ADMIT YOU’VE BEEN CONNED
HERE’S THE ORIGINAL POSTING ON THE LIMBAUGH COMMENTS FROM THE SATIRICAL SITE “DUFFLEBLOG”. BE SURE TO ALSO NOTICE THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR. (Ed’s Note 9/23/17: Four years later and the article still lived on without correction.)
BUSTED AND BURNED
Lefty Bloggers and Tweeters Peddle False Rush Limbaugh Attack on Military ‘Welfare Grunts’ From ‘Onion’ Imitator
By Tim Graham | October 23, 2013 | 21:14
Beware leftist bloggers and tweeters who are dumb enough to link to this website: The Duffel Blog and its report “Rush Limbaugh Calls Troops ‘Welfare Queens, Moochers’.” For the appearance of facticity, “Dick Scuttlebutt” reported “The comments came during Limbaugh’s second hour on Monday.” But on Monday, Limbaugh was “under the weather” and guest host Mark Steyn was on the air. Daily Kos was among the lefty blog sites that eagerly picked up this false nugget. The fact that there was no audio didn’t discourage them.
The problem? The Duffel Blog calls itself “The military version of The Onion” and says it broke the story of President John Adams and his cocaine habit. The Duffel Blog “satire” claimed a retired Army master sergeant called the Limbaugh show and endorsed Obamacare, which allegedly caused Rush to denounce and demean the military for all the free stuff they get and their “years-long paid vacations to exotic foreign lands.”
You see, Master Sergeant,” began Limbaugh, rubbing his hands together, “you have exposed yourself. I thank you for the call — and I thank you for your service, I really do — but you’ve exposed yourself. Of course you like the idea of the government putting a band-aid on every little boo-boo you get, wiping your nose for you, giving you free prescription Advil when you could buy it at the drug store like the taxpayer, so on and so forth. You like that idea because you’ve lived with that your whole life. You said you joined the Army at 18. My guess is that before that, before you enlisted, you were on welfare. When you joined, you were essentially on welfare, because whether or not you ever go to war, you get free medicine, free food, free place to sleep, even free clothes to wear to work every day. The taxpayer even gives you years-long paid vacations to exotic foreign lands. I’m not saying you’re not appreciative, but when you’re used to people giving you free ice cream for forty years, if you suddenly have to pay for your own ice cream, you’ll understandably be upset.
“You’ll also probably think, well—” and here Limbaugh inclined the intonation of his voice to imitate that of a child, “Mr. Limbaugh, if only everyone could have fwee ice cream, Mr. Limbaugh, then the world would be all sunshine and unicorns and happiness. The only problem,” continued Limbaugh, returning to his normal voice, “is that ice cream, folks, like health care, is not free. It is a product, created by a producer. And you have just as much a right to getting it for free as you have to getting ice cream for free. That is, you do not have a right to it for free. And if you believe otherwise, you are not a defender of the nation. You’re a welfare queen — or more appropriately, a welfare grunt.”
Mr. Limbaugh then launched into a tangent on what he called the “distressing trend” he’s noticed in younger servicemembers to be supporters of the President.
“It used to be, back when I was of age to serve, back in the Vietnam era, that soldiers were stout, upright, conservative young men. They were Southern. They voted Republican. Their wives stayed home and had babies and knew their place. Cooked dinner, had a highball waiting when the husband got home, so forth. But nowadays we have a new generation of young military youth — low-information voters raised on liberal propaganda like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and PBS, what have you. Get their news from the drive-by media. They learned welfare, mooching, kumbaya and hand-holding from those sources. They learned mooching from an early age, folks. And even in uniform, still moochers. Can’t change a leopard’s….well, in this case, you can change a leopard’s spots, folks. But he’s still a leopard. Still a moocher. A little Obama jihadist, ready to march out and drone-attack American citizens in Yemen or Pakistan.”
Fake “Dick Scuttlebutt” even claimed Clear Channel Communications “distanced itself from Limbaugh’s comments.” Daily Kos bought that, too.
THE SIMPLE TAKEAWAY
INTELLIGENCE: CHECK, CHECK, AND CHECK AGAIN ON THE FACTS OF A STORY BEFORE YOU START MAKING COMMENTS. MAKE CERTAIN YOU HAVE ALL THE FACTS IN HAND AND BE THE MOST INFORMED PERSON YOU CAN BE. DON’T ALLOW THE MEDIA VULTURES TO USE YOU AS A PAWN IN THEIR P.R. SCHEME.
STOP FALLING FOR FAKE NEWS.
YOU HAVE THE LAST WORD ON YOUR IMAGE, SO BE CERTAIN IT’S A POSITIVE AND FACTUAL ONE.