February 16, 2018

Unless you’re new to reading my commentary, you know that much of it has had to do with what we call the Death Of Journalism. Increasingly over recent decades, so-called “journalists” (quotation marks intentional) have shown themselves to be wedded more closely to their chosen narrative than to the real facts of a story. Why, who wants to bother chasing down facts when discovering them might create some obligation to mention them (and not on page B36), watering down or even negating the narrative? And who wouldn’t choose to run with a blockbuster story, no matter how feebly sourced, if it might create a hysteria that advanced one’s own deeply-held political agenda?

A real journalist, that’s who. And one real journalist –- someone who doesn’t require quotation marks around that title –- is Sharyl Attkisson; in fact, I’ve mentioned that not long ago. In a recent TEDx Talk at the University of Nevada, she demonstrated why she needs to be cloned hundreds of times and sent to all the journalism schools around the country to teach J-101, along with a remedial course for all the professional reporters who apparently slept through it the first time.

In her talk, Attkisson looks at the origin of the term “fake news.” Since President Trump uses it often, many people assume it originated with him, as a means to discredit reporters who say things about him he doesn’t like. But Attkisson points out that he didn’t invent it; he sort of hijacked it from the left, in a brilliant move to rob them of its propaganda power.

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Fake news –- if not the term “fake news” –- has always been around, and Attkisson rattles off numerous examples from both left- and right-leaning sources. She reminds us that the mainstream media starting usng the term before Trump did, to describe what they considered to be the inferior product of conservative news outlets. (I’ve written about the so-called “fact-checkers” who skillfully twist correct information in agenda-driven ways that make it seem wrong, even when it’s correct. Facts deemed incorrect are too often simply politically-incorrect.) News organizations were doing this for what seemed to Attkisson like a propaganda effort, so she traced the use of the term “fake news” back to a small non-profit called “First Draft.”

In September of 2016 (note the timing?), First Draft announced its intention to tackle “malicious hoaxes and fake news reports,” with the goal of keeping unproven conspiracy talk from coming up on Internet searches. A month later, Attkisson recalls, President Obama echoed that, insisting that someone needed to come in as a gatekeeper to tame this “wild, wild West media environment.” The idea of “fake news” began dominating the headlines as a dire threat to American democracy.

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So, where did First Draft get its funding? Attkisson discovered that one of its first big donors (we’re talking millions) was...(drum roll)...Google. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is run by YUUUUUGE Hillary supporter Eric Schmidt, who even, according to Attkisson, offered his services as “campaign advisor.” Hillary joined the effort (big shock), and according to Attkisson’s sources, David Brock of George Soros-funded Media Matters privately told donors that Facebook had been convinced to come on board the “fake news” train as well.

Okay, now we know where the term “fake news,” in its modern context, originated. But Trump took the term and turned it around to attack the liberal media that had abused it. He essentially co-opted it, using it so much that it became his. Winning!

But, of course, there are other ways to try to limit the impact of speech. Attkisson warns of another concept, “media literacy.” Liberal elites have become extremely fond of telling us which outlets to trust. (I’d add that there’s a good way to tell: they all use exactly the same buzzwords and DNC talking points.) These advocates even try to get laws passed requiring their version of the news, from approved sources, to be taught in school.

More information about Attkisson’s TEDx Talk is at the link; scroll down to watch the video in its entirety. Afterwards, you’ll be more qualified to work in journalism than many who actually do. Admittedly, that’s not saying a lot.


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Comments 1-5 of 5

  • jack macdonald

    03/30/2018 05:57 PM

    It gratifies me when reading people's comments that there are still a lot of people who get it and I hope the number of subscribers to your newsletter multiplies many fold. I played golf with a Canadian couple today and found myself wanting their opinion their Prime Minister. It turns out they follow the media line that Trump is a simple minded tweeter. I told them that Trudeau has about a 2nd grade mentality and is PC to the bone. We had this conversation calmly and rationally. This Canadian also believe we should give up our guns because no other country on earth has the mass shootings problem that the USA has. He believes Canabis should be legal rather than guns. I told him I was a guntoting tea partier.

  • E. Lee Saffold

    02/16/2018 10:23 PM

    Freedom of the press is not freedom to suppress the facts and thereby oppress the people who profess the truth.

  • Amelia Little

    02/16/2018 01:53 PM

    Journalism needs more people like Sharyl Attkisson. I started noticing at least as far back as 2002 that there were reporters who, in their zeal to get the scoop on a story, would "report" whatever was going on, by whatever source, without bothering to check the validity of the story. Just like in the Travon Martin case, and Ferguson, Baltimore and like instances, "reporters" went with unvetted videos, got information from people who were nowhere in the vacinity of an incident, and went wild in their reports. When investigations are done, we didn't hear so much (from them) about what the investigation revealed. They either stuck with their story or just dropped any mention. It's a disservice to their viewers not to let them know the facts once they are found out. Not a reporter, but a Political commentator, television personality, former prosecutor, was a big one to spout on a national show a breaking case (every word is a breathless exclamation mark.) Not all her information was wrong, but when it was, she just ignored the correction, and at times would continue to push the incorrect information. It's one thing to report on a breaking news case--but it should initially be, as an example, there has been a school shooting in FL--stay tuned for facts as they come in. Then, the numbers of fatalities and injuries, other students safe, etc etc etc. Perhaps wait for official identification of the shooter, and wait for investigation to determine who/what the shooter is. Don't sit around with on air co-workers supposing this and that and the other--because there are those who are going to think they are reporting news information. And, yes, journalism schools should go back to the old ways of reporting--check facts, maybe even do a little research (and that doesn't mean google names of person allegedly being the shooter and pick one that seems to fit your agenda, can we say Aurora?) I have "news" for reporters--your network/show might have been the "first" (but, do you watch other shows that might have reported at the same time, or maybe even earlier?) to bring a breaking story---but if I'm not tuned in to your show at the time--being "first" means nothing to me, or to many others.

  • Jim sharpe

    02/16/2018 09:57 AM

    It is another great gem that explains how the progressives have a bottleneck in our education system .. from source to newscasts. Thank you Mike for spreading the real news!!!

  • Frank Maitilasso

    02/16/2018 09:51 AM

    The Main Steam Media. including CNN and MSNBC, are complicit in anti Trump narrative and have created a state run media which tries to control which news outlets are honest and which ones are not. I think that these outlets report propaganda rather than real news and it’s very dangerous to our Democracy.