I used to quip that I didn’t watch Fox News for the same reason I don’t drink from the toilet. Ha ha, roll snare drum.
Sadly, there are a whole lot of “news” providers out there that make Fox News look like the New York Times. One of the most popular being Info Wars, hosted by full-time professional crackpot Alex Jones (pictured above).
Alex Jones famously made the claim that Sandy Hook was a government hoax. He has also been known to state as fact that Obama was poised to take over Texas last year is something called Operation Jade Helm, the US Navy SEALS were behind the Boston Marathon bombing, and that a secret group of pagans who meet annually in Bohemian Grove actually rule the world. In another age and time, guys like Jones would be walking the streets wearing a sandwich board that proclaimed “the end is near!” Now, kooks like this have their own radio shows, websites and thousands of followers.
Thus, more Americans are drinking toilet water than ever before.
I recently encountered someone who was convinced that liberals were now turning their backs on Hillary in droves now that Trump had won. This person stated confidently that Trump was winning over voters with his new, more moderate, positions…and besides, Hillary was trafficking in child sex slaves—her e-mails proved it.
Well, at least I now know why the right thought those e-mails mattered. I always regarded the story about using a private server to be bit dull. So, obviously, somebody decided to spice it up with some absolute bullshit. And because this bullshit matched a previously believed narrative, suckers bought it.
The problem now is, how do we fight these lies with facts?
For our entire history, Americans have relied on the press to keep us informed. Under the protection of the First Amendment, journalists crafted a culture of fact-based reporting with a long list of rules and ethical codes. Sure, there was always “yellow journalism” in the form of the National Enquirer and Weekly World News. But such tabloid press was generally ignored by the public, and “bat boy” never posed a threat to our democracy. But now, solid journalism is under a well-coordinated attack…and it is losing the fight.
Fake news has worked hard to paint themselves as champions of THE TRUTH. All other sources of news are depicted as part of the “great big conspiracy.” People listening to this garbage soon find themselves cut off from trustworthy news sources, and the only water left to drink comes from the toilet. This, by the way, is classic cult behavior; isolate a person from those he or she trusts, and you can then manipulate the hell out of ’em with no cognitive opposition.
I would love to propose a solution to the fake news problem in this post. I would love to say, “Hey folks, here’s the magic bullet!” But unlike the Alex Jones types, I refuse to tell that kind of lie. Ergo, when I don’t know, I don’t just make things up. However, the first step in solving a problem is understanding the problem. And, fellow liberals, we need to get schooled!
Below is a link to an NPR article about one such fake news purveyor. And as NPR is one of the real news sources that actually practice journalistic ethics, I tend to trust ‘em.
By Clayton J. Callahan