Mainstream media is the chief culprit behind ‘fake news’

With many in the media and on the left desperately looking for someone else to blame for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE’s embarrassing loss to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE, the latest favored narrative is that “fake news” is so rampant it cost Clinton the election. This is, of course, absurd.

With survey after survey proving that public trust in the media is abysmal, how could fake news cost the most well known candidate in modern history an election when people don’t trust the news to begin with

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The media recently thought it had its “fake news” smoking gun (no pun intended) when a lunatic walked into a pizza parlor with a gun. The incident apparently began as an internet hoax suggesting Clinton and her campaign chair John Podesta allegedly were involved in a child sex-trafficking ring operating out of the D.C. pizza parlor Comet Ping Pong. Yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds.

The aforementioned lunatic, according to police, went to the parlor to “self-investigate” the conspiracy. No one was hurt.

The media, of course, is using the incident to bemoan the dangers of fake news. John Nolte of the Daily Wire helpfully points out that the media has been totally fine spreading fake news in the past, such as the false narrative that Ferguson teen Michael Brown held up his hands and asked a white police officer not to shoot him. The “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was a lie, but some in the media and on the left still parrot the claim, even after forensic evidence proved it wrong.

Nolte notes that the media narrative of racist white police officers (or black police officers with internalized racism) out to get unarmed black men has resulted in the targeting of innocent police officers. So yes, fake news can be dangerous, but until now the media has been more than okay in spreading it.

There are several additional, high profile examples of the media promoting the spread of fake news, though these examples thankfully have not resulted in physical harm. (Emotional harm is debatable.)

The first: Andrea Mitchell’s claim Juanita Broaddrick’s accusations against Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue No, civility isn't optional MORE were discredited.

Mitchell said in a May segment for MSNBC that Broaddrick’s claim against Clinton had been “discredited and long-denied.” NBC News later edited out the “discredited” line because Broaddrick’s accusation has never been discredited. But saying as much certainly helps a narrative that continued to keep Bill popular with Democrats (and Mitchell was referencing Broaddrick in an effort to smear Trump during the election).

The second: Trump’s “grab them by the p---y’” comment.

Make no mistake, these words were really said by our president-elect, and they are disgusting. But the media began to claim that Trump was admitting to sexual assault when he uttered those words. The full context revealed Trump saying that when someone is as rich and famous as he is, women would let him do whatever he wanted. After these decade-old remarks were revealed, women began coming out of the woodwork to claim they never consented to Trump’s advances. Now that the election is over, we aren’t hearing much from these women.

The third: Trump “fact checks” conducted by media outlets.

There were so many absurd “fact checks” during this election I couldn’t even list them, but one of the most absurd had to do with Trump’s claim that President Obama founded ISIS. Anyone with half a brain (which apparently excludes many in the media) knows Trump was referring to Obama’s foreign policy, which Trump claimed created the conditions for ISIS to be created. But fact checkers took his words literally, as if Trump suggested Obama sat at a table with Islamic terrorists and helped create the group.

The media also tried to deny that the “birther issue” began with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. But McClatchy’s Washington Bureau Chief James Asher said longtime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal told him “in person” that Obama was born in Kenya.

There were also the numerous “fact checks” attempting to claim Trump lied about his support for the Iraq war. Trump said he didn’t support the war, and the only evidence to the contrary is Trump telling Howard Stern “Yeah, I guess so” when asked if he supported the war. That’s hardly a rousing statement, especially from a man who can’t usually say “yes” without eight additional adjectives.

These are just some of the 2016 examples of fake news – or fake narratives – spread by the media. Before journalists start bemoaning the alleged consequences of fake news, they should look in the mirror.

Ashe Schow (@AsheSchow) is a higher education reporter for Watchdog.org and the senior political columnist for the New York Observer.


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