- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission has fielded dozens of complaints concerning so-called “fake news” in the months since the phrase first entered the American vernacular last fall, newly obtained government records reveal.

No fewer than 40 “fake news” complaints have been filed with the FCC since Oct. 1, the Columbia Journalism Review reported Wednesday, citing internal documents recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

As the expression gained steam last year, Americans appealed the FCC dozens of times to sanction cable news networks and other outlets over accusations of “fake news,” the documents reveal.

Nineteen of the 40 complaints targeted either individual television networks or the mainstream media as a whole, while the remaining half contained allegations against the likes of supermarket tabloids and online social networking services, CJR reported.

“All news stations must be censored or fined when they continuously lie, obfuscate and misdirect intentionally. The most egregious of these is CNN, but ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC et al are equally guilty,” an individual claiming to be from Nebraska wrote in a Dec. 10, 2016, complaint.

“The Mainstream Media news outlets are obviously trying to undermine our President and our nation by inundating the public with fake news, misleading stories, and one-sided biased interviews and spokespeople,” someone who said they were from South Carolina wrote in a Feb. 15, 2017, complaint.

In another dated earlier this year, an Arizona resident wrote the federal agency to raise concerns over Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s backing of former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Zuckerberg donated $17 million to Hillary which I call collusion and conspiracy and if she won, my belief he would have control of the Internet,” the individual wrote.

“I really feel that the FCC needs to investigate Face Book & Zuckerberg and drain that swamp,” an Arizona resident wrote a week later.”

The FCC responded in each instance, even if only to explain that social media practices and other non-broadcast content are excluded from the agency’s jurisdiction, CJR reported.

The “fake news” phenomenon achieved prominence late last year amid an apparent surge of bogus but legitimate-looking internet articles containing blatantly false or misleading claims, and particularly their growing presence on social media services such as Facebook.

President Trump later decried CNN as “fake news” days before taking office this year, driving a deeper wedge between Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters and corporate media. In February, Mr. Trump asked supported to fill out a “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” in order to protect “against the media’s hit jobs.”

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