Each January, tens of thousands of pro-lifers descend upon our nation’s capitol to mark the solemn occasion of the Roe v. Wade anniversary. That’s the month in 1973 the Supreme Court used a fake law to create a fake right to kill our own offspring, and a body count that has now reachedwell over 50 million began.
Each January, this mass demonstration of conviction rarely gets more than perfunctory coverage by major U.S. newspapers, cable news networks and the nightly broadcast news. However, last weekend a few blocks away from the site of the march, the meeting of a couple hundred racists trying to rebrand themselves as the “alt-right” received days of coverage.
Type “March for Life” into Google News and 4.6 million results come up. That’s a pretty hefty number until you type in “alt right” and see it returns more than 6 million. How come a term most of us hadn’t heard of, until the just-concluded 2016 presidential election, gets more attention than a national protest that is older than Google itself?
Talk about your fake news.
But a different kind of fake news spread on social media is what a growing chorus of journalists, liberals and tech leaders (three overlapping groups obviously) at least partially blame for Donald Trump’s election victory.
For most Americans, it is hardly a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for quite some time, actually: Dan Rather’s fake gotcha story on George W. Bush during the 2004 election. ABC News’ failure to disclose ties between George Stephanopoulos andHillary Clinton before his fake interview about the Clinton Foundation. The more than 24 “journalists” who took their fake objectivity with them to work in the Obama administration. When CNN, PBS NewsHour, Mic.com, The Washington Post, Slate and many others thought fake news was kinda cool because the fake news was written by liberal comedians for cable satire shows.
See, our industry has been peddling quite a bit of hackery and partisanship as “news” for years now, so the public no longer trusts us. And it is not just Trump backers or conservatives who are disillusioned. According to Gallup, since 1997 trust in the news media among independents has fallen from 53% to 30%. Among Democrats, it has fallen from 64% to 51%. How bad is that? A 2016 liberal is less trustful of what he reads and hears from reporters and anchors than a conservative was two decades ago.
As a result, we’ve gone from adults telling their kids, “Don’t trust what you read on the Internet,” to “Did you hear Ted Cruz’s dad killed Kennedy? @TrumpJesus posted it on Twitter.”
Yes, the Trump campaign shamelessly rode a wave of fake news sites to help it corral a gullible public. I know firsthand because I spent much of the GOP primary combating this plague as a nationally syndicated conservative talk show host. It got so bad that for months, we chose to take listener phone calls only sparingly because we’d spend more time talking about things that didn’t happen than things that did.
For example, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski once shared a fake story about folks being paid to protest Trump. Trump himself wondered aloudwhy notorious tabloid the National Enquirer hasn’t won a Pulitzer. One of its latest headlines is “Cher’s shoe obsession: the ugly early years.”
But a gullible populace doesn’t appear overnight. It has to be cultivated and cultured by years of journalistic malpractice and malfeasance. There have to be years of mystifying decisions such as the ones to treat a few hundred racists as blockbuster news while relegating tens of thousands of pro-life protesters to the briefs column. At that point, very few trust the reporting of objective facts if they’re reported by a source that has proved itself to be anything but objective in the past.
Not to mention that our friends on the left, who are most of the people working in the mainstream news media, can’t have it both ways. When you advocate allowing people to redefine reality to the point that it is controversial and “hateful” to expect people to use the proper bathroom, don’t be surprised if people want to decide for themselves which “news” is actually real, too. If I can claim my own gender and my own pronouns, why can’t I claim my own facts?
Don’t be surprised when folks can’t tell the difference between real and fake news when too many of the people working in our newsrooms can’t either.