What worries me the most about fake news, isn’t that it’s fake, it’s that it’s being used by the left to try to silence opposing views.
Take for example a story reported by the Los Angeles Times that included a professor who put together a Google document of “false, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news sources’” to help people “cleanse their newsfeeds of misinformation.”
The only problem with the list, was it included real news sites of which the professor simply didn’t agree. Conservative blogs, including Red State and The Blaze, were on the list, as was more centrist, but GOP-leaning Independent Journal Review (IJR). None of those sites are fake — they often just peddle in the real news purposely not covered by the mainstream media.
“Not all of these sources are always or inherently problematic, neither are all of them fake or false,” the professor, Melissa Zimdars, at Merrimack College in Massachusetts told the Times. ” … They should be considered in conjunction with other news/info sources due to their tendency to rely on clickbait headlines or Facebook descriptions, etc.”
So, just like MSNBC, Huffington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, and ThinkProgress — all partisan left outlets, which often use exaggeration and hyperbole to emphasize their point — which weren’t included on her list.
CNN’s media columnist Brian Stelter also has warned about “fake news,” but in his diatribe, he included right-leaning Fox News and alt-right website Breitbart in the mix.
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“Breitbart is anti-media. Much of Fox News is anti-media. Fake news websites and some right wing blogs are anti-media. These outlets provide a different audience with a different set of facts about the world. But too often what they’re really selling is opinion and conspiracy theory masquerading as fact. These sites, these outlets, they present themselves as the opposite of traditional news sources, the antidote to mainstream media,” he said.
What he’s right about is there does need to be an antidote to the mainstream media. Because often what he — and other newsrooms around the country — view as “opinion and conspiracy theory” are all too often real news stories that simply don’t fit their agenda.
The possibility that Donald Trump could become president? CNN never had a map that could get him to 270 electoral votes. Respected pollster FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver got chastised the week leading up to the election because he had Mr. Trump’s chances at about 30 percent — far higher than any of the broadcast networks or other pollsters who engaged in group-think.
Paid protesters are another example.
We know, after an undercover video was released by conservative group Project Veritas, that two Democratic operatives had to step down from their positions because it looked as though they were trying to hire protesters to incite violence at Mr. Trump’s rallies.
These two men didn’t lose their jobs because they were innocent — or because the videos were “highly edited” like the mainstream media charged. Clearly something was going on there. But only right-wing outlets (or “fake,” “anti-media” blogs) covered it, with barely a mention at CNN, NPR or any of the broadcast news networks.
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When Mr. Trump said during a presidential debate that protesters were hired and told to do “bad things” at his rallies, PolitiFact even admitted that “too much remains unknown to put it on the Truth-O-Meter.”
So it seems like it would be something investigative journalists would want to, well, investigate.
But not according to Washington Post reporter Phillip Bump.
When Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse asked on Twitter after the election, why wasn’t there more reporting on the anti-Trump protests — like who they were organized by and if they were paid for — Mr. Bump took offense.
“Sasse’s question is a bit like asking why we don’t have more reporting on the fact that the Moon is preparing a superweapon with which to annex Antarctica,” Mr. Bump wrote, in an article titled: “Sen. Sasse here are some answers to your questions about ‘paid rioting.’”
When confronted on Twitter about his lack of intellectual curiosity from a reader, Mr. Bump responded: “Allow me to reply in a way you’ll grasp: derp, derp, derp.”
So yes, we need an antidote to this sort of media — and that often comes in the likes of the Federalist — who did an epic take-down of Mr. Bump last week — or The Washington Times, Washington Free-Beacon, The Daily Caller, and, yes, Breitbart.
None of it is fake — it’s merely doing the job the mainstream media refuses to do.
• Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.