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.
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.
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.