Monday, December 19, 2016

"Fake News"

Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Fake News”
December 19, 2016

“Fake News”

“Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
                                                                                                George Washington Carver (c. 1864-1943)

Fake news! “Holy red herring,” as Robin might have said to Batman! The next thing they will be telling us that Santa Claus is fake! Come on! There has been fake news since time immemorial. Think of agencies like the CIA., M15 and the KGB that have always used fake news for purposes of deception. Consider the Apocryphal Press ( run by my good friend and former classmate Tom Korson, who uses fake news for the purpose of humor. Think of The New York Times and the Financial Times, both of whom regularly confuse fact with fiction. Much of “real” news is fake.

Hypocrisy is embedded in the sanctimonious Left. Less than two months before the 2004 Presidential elections, Dan Rather went on Sixty Minutes and falsely targeted George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard. Later, Brian Williams lied about his helicopter being shot down in Iraq. In 2008, while running for President, Hillary Clinton lied about coming under fire when landing in Kosovo in 1996. She blamed the attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including the Ambassador in 2012, on a “hateful” video. In 2009, President Obama told us that under the Affordable Care Act “…we could keep our health-care plan, if we chose.” Or Al Gore’s talking of Polar Bears stranded on melting ice sheets. Or the drumbeat among mainstream media, in the weeks leading to the 2016 election, which assured voters that Donald Trump was too flawed to be elected President. And what about the “recall?” It was born amid great fanfare, but slunk off into the forest to die alone. We were told all of these stories were “real,” but none were. So, what about Santa Claus? With ten grandchildren, I’ll let someone less encumbered respond.

Most media today twist news to accord with a predetermined narrative. News sources on both the Left and the Right succumb to pressure from readers and viewers. But the left’s version is more heinous, as it makes a pretense of having no biases. They cloak their stories in a mantle of sanctimonious rhetoric. The New York Times, a week ago last Sunday, had the chutzpah to editorialize about guiding Americans back to a path of commonly accepted facts: “A President and other politicians who care about the truth could certainly help them along. In the absence of leaders like that, media organizations that report fact without regard for partisanship, and citizens who think for themselves, will need to light the way.” Mr. Sulzberger, it has been you and your staff that have persistently sculpted the news to fit your story lines. It is you and the liberal mainstream media that are so badly in need of a lantern.

Consider two recent articles, one from the FT and the other from the Times: The Financial Times selected Donald Trump as their person of the year. The article, which appeared on December 13th, was spiteful. They compared him to Sinclair Lewis’s fictional fascist “Buzz” Windrip, from his 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here. They called him a populist running roughshod over opponents. They implied he could only have been elected by the unwashed and uneducated. They argued his legal use of tax-loss carry-forwards were unethical. They associated him with conspiracists who denied the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook school massacres. They then had the temerity to claim to be a “gatekeeper” that will protect gullible readers from exploitation by those who tell tales! Imagine the uproar had tables been turned and media like The Wall Street Journal or The Telegraph similarly excoriated Hillary Clinton!

A New York Times headline last week: “C.I.A. Judgment on Russia Built on Swell of Evidence.” Then the third paragraph: “The C.I.A.’s conclusion does not appear to be the product of specific new intelligence obtained since the election…Rather, it was an analysis of what many believe is overwhelming circumstantial evidence – evidence that others feel does not firm judgments – that the Russians put a thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump, and got their desired output.” The headline was deceptive; circumstantial evidence represents neither a “swell” nor is it “specific.” And, the FBI has never corroborated the allegation.

The CIA. is critical to American interests, but keep in mind, the art of deception is elemental to their work. They have been known to deceive the press; certainly the Times felt that way when no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq. Cyber security must be a priority for the next President. Everything, from our water supply to missile deployment to banking transactions are vulnerable. It is a major reason why so many – though not The New York Times – were so concerned over Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server. It seems likely that, at a minimum, she compromised the e-mail addresses of all those with whom she was in contact, including high-ranking government officials and members of the Democratic National Committee. If anyone is to blame for a foreign government hacking our computer systems, it might well be a former Secretary of State who lives in Chappaqua. The Times has not pursued this line of inquiry, implying motives that are more about assigning blame for the loss by their candidate than uncovering truth.

Of course, the conclusion that the Russians preferred Mr. Trump seems absurd on its face. Mr. Putin was able to do as he wished with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton – think how strengthened he has become in the past eight years. It was Mrs. Clinton who presented Mr. Putin with a “re-set” button, a button he has re-set to his own advantage. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, represents an unknown, something far riskier to Mr. Putin.

Clinton aides blame loss on everything but themselves,” so read Politico’s headline two days after the election. Democrats are doing what they can to make the loss last month appear the fault of someone other than themselves: for example, bars in the Midwest that were tuned only to Fox News, or Russian leaders who were terrified Mrs. Clinton would be elected. That Democrats nominated one of the most flawed candidates in U.S. history was apparently of no significance. In Trump voters, Democrats see racists, misogynists, xenophobes and “irredeemable deplorables.”  Yet Mr. Trump increased the GOP’s percentage of Hispanic and African-American votes by 2% over 2012. The economy, a stumbling ObamaCare, a collapsing Europe, deteriorating relations in Iraq, and Syria, racial divisions at home, debt, an ethically-challenged candidate – none of these factors played a role, according to those on the Left! Democrats are doing what they claimed Republicans would do when they felt assured of victory. It is humorous, in one sense, discomfiting in another, but mostly it is dangerous, as it threatens our democratic processes.

Elections have consequences, as Mr. Obama reminded us eight years ago. Yes, they do. The people chose, and they selected someone the establishment now recklessly associates with demagogues and fascism. If the Left is serious about removing fake news, a panel should be formed of representatives from MSNBC, Fox News, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, but not Facebook. They could become arbiters. In the meantime, it is time for Democrats to grow up, and to understand the difference between news that is real (Trump won) and news that is fake (Hillary deserved to win).

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