Tuesday, August 8, 2017


A boy, a wolf,
And fake news:
No one believes

THERE HAS BEEN SO MUCH ‘FAKE NEWS” since a non-politico ran for office that now almost everyone who thinks suspects ALL news of being “fake news.”

It brings to mind Aesop’s ”The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story. Lest you have forgotten a bored shepherd boy several times cried “Wolf !” when no wolf was present. When a wolf DID appear and he cried “Wolf !,” no one believed him.

The purveyors of fake news and the boy who cried wolf are now in the same situation: who will believe them?

There always has been “yellow journalism,” but the term started with New York papers owned by Wm. Randolph Hearst and Jos. Pulitzer II. (A level-headed background can be read at http://preview.tinyurl.com/yccolshd.) The Hearst-Pulitzer wars were well before the “supermarket tabloids” of today although some well-known media outlets are keeping the Hearst-Pulitzer tradition alive and well.

The Public Domain Review agrees that “fake news” is as old as history.

    It is perhaps not so surprising to hear that the problem of “fake news” — media outlets adopting sensationalism to the point of fantasy — is nothing new. Although, as Robert Darnton explained in the NYRB recently, the peddling of public lies for political gain (or simply financial profit) can be found in most periods of history dating back to antiquity, it is in the late 19th-century phenomenon of “Yellow Journalism” that it first seems to reach the widespread outcry and fever pitch of scandal familiar today.

Uncle Sam's dream of conquest and carnage - caused by reading the Jingo newspapers by Udo Keppler Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA (ppmsca 28959 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.28959)

There WAS a time in America when the major outlets were more or less trusted. Those days are long gone, ancient history.

Back in the day of two newspapers in every big city, readers had a choice: right leaning editorials or left leaning editorials. Reporters — and I once was one — were instructed that to keep their jobs, they reported facts, not fiction or wishful thinking. (That does not mean reporters lacked political feelings, they simply kept them on the editorial page.)

Apparently — I am not in a newsroom to state this as fact — today, reporters are told to pitch their copy to the right or left, depending on the advertising manager’s whim — what sells advertisements — since ad sales are what pays for the media, be it print or video. (Anyone still remember radio — the tv sans picture?)

Editorial cartoons used to be topical. Today most are political. Even the comics are political. To find an artist whose editorial cartoons are either topical or balanced is difficult — Gary Varvel of the Indianapolis Star is one of the few.

To find a balanced daily newspaper, news magazine, or tv “news” is almost an exercise in futility. Perhaps home town shoppers are the best bet for unbiased local news.

The only thing left for anyone wanting “balanced” news is to take to the Internet and read both the media on the left and the media on the right. In the District, readers need to look at both the Times and the Post — as well as Politico. Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha once opined that if two sources fail to agree, find a third source; it surely will agree with one or the other.

There used to be (1956-1963) a tv show called “Who Do You Trust.” In 2017, the answer, sadly, is “no one,” certainly not the media.

If the links fail to work, see http://tinyurl.com/y82lye4d to learn how to find/access them. It's a Google problem.

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Comments on Fake News

No comments: