(My Eastern New Mexico News column for December 14, 2016)
Why the sudden uproar over "fake news"? Apparently, because many on the political Left blame so-called fake news for Trump's election.
There has always been fake news. Nineteenth century newspapers were peppered with delicious tales of sea monsters, mysterious airships, and ape men presented as news. Today, press releases from government agencies are routinely presented without disclaimers. Both are likely to be outlandish fiction.
If a story confirms what you want to believe, be suspicious. If it sounds too juicy to be true, it's probably not true.
Keep this in mind when following any news story.
One problem is those with an agenda who present stories which support their side; ignoring stories which are just as credible, but support another side. Or no side at all. Sometimes stories are technically true, but slanted.
Everyone is biased, even when they don't mean to be. The honest ones admit it and tell you their bias. I don't report news, but if I did it would be with a libertarian bias. I will always prefer liberty over slavery. Every time. "Taxation" is theft and I'll never pretend politics is a "noble profession". Those with the opposite bias present taxation as the price of civilization, and government employment as a public service. Which bias is more honest?
Sometimes what is called "fake news" is actually satire. Many satirical websites pose as serious news sources and anyone can get fooled occasionally. To save face, some get angry over being fooled.
No one is obligated to hold your hand and explain to you that critical thinking is... well, critical. When reading something online, follow the source and see if it also warns of the impending takeover of civilization by Sea Monkeys. If so, the story you were reading may not be completely credible. It's your responsibility to figure it out; not the government's job to tell you who is "real" and who isn't. There should never be any such thing as an authorized "licensed journalist".
Then too, what is called "fake news" is often simply news the opposition doesn't want generally known. Too bad for them.
There obviously were fake or slanted news stories which favored Trump, just as there were those which favored Clinton. It's inevitable.
Personally, I'd like to see a few more stories of fantastic airships with their alien crews leaning out the window, waving and dropping Ambrosia to picnicking families down below. The old days had the best fake news!
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