from Jesse’s Café Américain:
“It is part of the business of a newspaper to get news and to print it; it is part of the business of a politician to prevent certain news being printed. For this reason the politician often takes a newspaper into his confidence for the mere purpose of preventing the publication of the news he deems objectionable to his interests.”
Alfred C. Harmsworth, Journalism as a Profession
I have been meaning to say something on the subject of ‘fake news’ for a little while now. And as it sometimes seems to do, my procrastination has one again served me well.
A long time reader, Malcolm, sent this email below to me this morning, and I thought it was so to the point as to be worth sharing, with a few minor edits as it was a casual email.
The other week another reader sent me a list of purported ‘fake news’ sites, and congratulated me for being included on it. I forget the source of this list, as I was preoccupied with other things at the time. I was happy to note in the details that they had failed to categorize Le Cafe as being biased or slanted in any particular way. It was simply labeled ‘unknown.’ So I have a fake news site, but they do not yet know exactly what makes it fake, or why.
According to the document, apparently anyone can nominate a site to the list, without a stated reason, whether it be a personal dislike or some more factual analysis. According to their document, someone later looks at the site and decides what kind of fake news it is. Apparently they had not gotten around to Le Cafe yet, although they did see fit to include it on a fake news list.
As Winnie-the-Pooh’s friend Eeyore would say, ‘thanks for noticing me.’
I would like to think that when I have facts I put down the facts, and when I have an opinion or am not sure of the facts, or am putting my own interpretation on the facts, I make that clear also. That is the best that someone who is merely human can do.
Rarely in the real world, with all its variables and differing decision making weightings, are the facts so simple that 2+2=4. And that is especially the case when it comes to public policy decisions, because of the underlying assumptions and objectives that lead to the selection of the variables and how they are to be combined and weighted. But those who say ‘it is simply math’ rarely seem to state, or perhaps even understand, their own inherent biases and selectivity.
Fake news is a neat little label. So too is the label of Russia friendly that has been applied by some other group to various blog sites, such as our friends at Naked Capitalism for instance, for similarly arbitrary and undefined reasons. I think they defeated their own credibility fairly quickly. But it is a potentially dangerous trend, and it was especially discouraging to see it adopted by the once ‘party of the people and diversity.’
This gets back to what a pundit, in a remarkable moment of irony and apparent lack of self-awareness, recently referred to as America’s Epidemic of Infallibility.
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