Sunday, November 20, 2016

The media needs to get off their 'fake news' false narrative

But rather than take responsibility for this massive and embarrassing failure, liberals and the so-called “mainstream media” have found something on which to try and place the blame: “fake” news sites, which they claim flooded Facebook with misinformation during the election cycle.
Over the last few days, prominent news outlets have published countless headlines like “Fake Facebook News Is a Disaster for Political Discourse,” “Here’s How Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency,” and “Facebook’s Fake News Threatens Democracy.”
Even President Obama is pushing the narrative. Speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, Obama said during an international trip,
In an age where there’s so much active misinformation — and it’s packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television … if everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect. We won’t know what to fight for.
It all sounds very scary.
Do fake news stories appear in Facebook news feeds at times? Yes. But should Facebook take action to get rid of the pages posting them? Absolutely not.
Trying to define a “fake” story is a slippery a slope — and allowing Facebook, another institution, or worse – the government — to define it for us is dangerous because it could shut down debate.
For example, is an outlet that makes posts on Facebook denying climate change promoting “fake” stories? The answer isn’t always clear. The market ought to determine what is worthy of being in our newsfeeds and what is not.
Facebook pages that continuously blast out blatantly fake stories to its fans will inevitably lose credibility along with their audience. We don’t need Facebook to punish the jokers, because its users will do that on their own. 
But the recent outrage about “fake” news stories is not really about fake news. It’s about something much more insidious: silencing news or opinion that is not left-leaning.
Established outlets like New York Magazine are circulating a blacklist of fake news websites to “watch out for.” Nearly all of the cited examples are conservative sites, and many like Breitbart News, Independent Journal Review, and Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy, are far from fake. 
Breitbart News, for example, invests ample resources in hiring full time real reporters who produce unique and interesting content. Sure, liberals may not like some of Breitbart’s headlines, but the site’s hard news stories are substantive and factual. 
The left-leaning mainstream media is losing readership and credibility by the day (Americans’ trust in the mass media dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history this September) — and now they’re panicking. These outlets are provoking outrage to pressure Facebook into silencing conservative blogs and news sites, which have been conveniently labeled “fake,” because they see it as an opportunity to stomp out competition.
But mainstream outlets only have themselves to blame for their dwindling traffic, influence, and ability to control the political narrative. During the 2016, the mainstream media was flagrant in its bias. Donald Trump was attacked ad nauseum, while Clinton’s scandals were largely downplayed or given a free pass.
Instead of helping Clinton, however, the blatant bias had the opposite effect: many voters tuned out from established outlets altogether and turned to conservative alternatives sites instead. 
Like it or not, Clinton lost the election and Trump is our next president. Full stop. Instead of whining, pointing fingers, and using outrage to try and take out conservative news sites, it’s time for liberals to grow up and do some self-reflection.
Liberals lost the White House because of a corrupt, untrustworthy, and unlikable candidate, and a media that would go to any length to cover for her.  
Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It."
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