Fake News Is About Deception

Journalists aren't void of opinions; the problem is dishonesty

Mixing “fake news” into your media intake is like watching a nasty debate round. To me—a teacher of debate and persuasion—it’s obvious what Fake News is, how it is used to manipulate you, and how it may be overcome.

Manipulation: Most of us know of CNN’s attempt to manipulate the Clinton/Sanders debates by giving this question to Hillary ahead of the town hall debate.

What Is Fake News?

I don’t necessarily agree with the common-man definition of Fake News, but let’s start there:

Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news) deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. (Wikipedia)

That’s a fair shot to explain the recent phenomena, but it was probably written by the media itself. The problem of Fake News, to them, is “out there,” not with themselves. I define it more in terms with code of ethics. For the media, that is. The public expects the media to be honest, respectful, and truthful. Like judges of debate rounds, we expect debaters to play fair, honestly and with integrity. Here’s my definition of Fake News:

A journalist, reporter or news entity that intentionally attempts to deceive its readership or listeners to accept a particular opinion or bias.

That is “fake news,” and it is all over the place.

How Fake News Manipulates You

Selective editing of information gets you kicked out of a debate tournament. I’ve been a part of nasty adjudications where debaters intentionally cheat. They dishonor the entire activity of debate by fabricating evidence, modifying cards, and all-out lying to judges and their opponents.

It’s much the same with Fake News. Members of the media, some top of the journalist’s field, are intentionally fabricating, modifying, and lying to their viewers. Sometimes their intent is to smear a public figure or politician, to shame them with their Fake News stories (like this CNN attempt to smear). Their intent is also meant to manipulate you to a particular bias or opinion.

Both the Left and the Right participate in Fake News, and I despise it from either side. You will rarely find me forwarding an article from the far right that is written intentionally to smear or deceive. However, the Left stakes claim in being above Fake News, the mainstream elites who accuse only others of doing so. Here’s a good example:

The extent of media deception is insulting and manipulative.

This comes from the Sacramento Bee, an editorial from earlier this week. They place quotations to change what Trump said, and they totally ignore facts from the very source they quote. The Bee is clearly biased against Donald Trump, but this is horrendously deceptive. Specifically,

  • “He labels as ‘fake’ news stories he perceives as negative…”
    Actually, Trump addressed this accusation in the CPAC speech. He said he is fine with negative stories about him, but he is upset over untrue stories.
  • “…and has taken to calling the media the ‘enemy of the American people’…”
    Again, Trump addressed this very deception. At CPAC, Trump made it very clear that he said “false news” is the enemy of the people, “not the media itself.”
  • “…something he did again at the Conservative Political Action Conference.”
    This is all-out deception, a lie as slimy as they come. I can only imagine that the Bee knows full-well that most people will not watch the speech, but they will blindly accept the lie the Bee is instigating.

I could also say that the statement “Trump has taken it to a dangerous level” is a claim with no warrant. What does the Sacramento Bee mean by “dangerous”? Has anyone been hurt because of the tension between Trump and the media? What’s the impact of such a claim?

There is no impact. In fact, an argument can be made that tension between the media and government is a healthy thing. But that’s beside the point: The Sacramento Bee intentionally omitted, edited and ignored key facts in order to manipulate you toward a particular viewpoint.

How to Overcome Fake News

Just as deceptive has been CNN. Consider the revelation that Jake Tapper gave debate questions to Hillary Clinton during a Clinton/Sanders town hall debate. CNN and many media outlets have refused to report the damning WikiLeaks revelation. Jake Tapper (together with Wolf Blitzer) participated in the most deceptive, rule-breaking offense in the presidential debate world. Giving questions to one of the debaters is a huge advantage, a most awful cheating that was exposed by WikiLeaks.

Can you imagine attending a parli debate tournament where one side was given the resolutions before the debate? It would be scandalous. No one would go to that tournament again, and the teachers would be shamed in the debate community. As they should.

Jake Tapper should have been fired on the spot, along with his co-conspirator Wolf Blitzer. Instead, he continues to lead CNN. And guess what? He continues to selectively edit Trump’s words, just like the Sacramento Bee (see Tapper: Excluding the press is un-American). He also pre-empts the entire video with, “A White House that has some difficulty telling the truth…”

This is how you overcome deceptions like this: think like a debaterYou need to resist everything that gets told to you, and when a journalist (like Jake Tapper) begins his or her spiral to deceive and lie, you need to hold them to even greater scrutiny. Other debate ideas:

  • Claims made should be warranted. Don’t settle for a blanketed statement like, “The President doesn’t appreciate the truth.” Ask for proof for such claims. The more wild the claim, the more proof is needed.
  • Warrants should be impacted. Ask yourself, “So what?” So what if the President doesn’t like the press, what’s the impact? So what if CNN wasn’t invited to a press meeting (not a briefing, but a meeting), so what? Debaters don’t assume an impact, and neither should the media.
  • Let the research guide you. Reporters, as well as viewers, should fact check the media. For example, watch the CPAC speech. It isn’t long. Both the Bee and CNN referenced the CPAC speech, but watching the actual speech would have instantly revealed the manipulation they were trying to pass onto their viewers.
  • Selective editing is always wrong. If the intent isn’t to deceive, then it’s sloppy and unprofessional. The media should try its hardest to accurately portray the truth—the good and the bad—and any attempt to manipulate that with the dirty tactics of Fake News should be called out as such.
  • Stop relying on news that has proven to be Fake. Debaters seldom quote alternative media, either Left or Right. Perhaps the Sacramento Bee would be included as alt media. But CNN? If they keep people like Jake Tapper in charge, they will soon be just as discredited as other alt media. The same trending for NYT, Washington Post, and others.

Take the last one to heart. Be brave, face the news that is fake, even if it validates that which you want to believe. If you don’t, you’re voluntarily being manipulated and deceived. You, in turn, are fake. The truth sets you free, not fakery.

And I contend, to quote Tapper, it is un-American.