Login Form

Op/Ed: The REAL Fake News

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Today, the term 'Fake News' is firmly entrenched in our lexicon. It seems everyone from Trumpite retirees, to neo-political millennials, freely toss around the phrase. The term was even recognized as, "The Word of the Year" by UK-based Collins Dictionary.

Candidate Trump didn't actually invent the term. He copied it from political satirists who were using the term a decade prior to his run for the White House. "The Most Trusted Name in Fake News" was a sort of on-air tagline used by the Daily Show. Jon Stewart and company, would mock some of the unbelievable news stories of the day with their comical brand of Fake News. And this kind of political satire isn't limited to just the Comedy Central channel.

It has even crept into the fringes of network news with the likes of Dennis Miller appearing on Fox News and Mo Rocca on CBS and MSNBC. It was all intended as a joke; a means to illicit a laugh via a political prism.


Beltway Insider: US, UK, Allies Unite Expel USSR Diplomats; Cold War Revisited; Kemerovo; Roseanne Reboot


But the many Trump mentions of the phrase employ an entirely different tactic. Any article or report that casts him in an unfavorable light (given his public performance, this has become a very broad spectrum) he slams as Fake News.

The motive here is, with a simple dismissive utterance, to cast doubt onto the facts behind a story and quickly move the focus elsewhere. But, there's more to it. There is a deeper, more malicious intent at work here where the hope is to discredit the reporter, the organization they work for and even the entire news industry.

During the 2016 campaign, NBC's Katy Tur was a major recipient of Trump's Fake News vitriol. Because of her unyielding factually correct reporting, she was called "disgraceful" and "third rate." He then took aim at her employer tweeting, "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license." This use of Fake News is a far cry from political satire. There is nothing funny about shutting down a long respected and vital institution like NBC News.

A more accurate description of Fake News refers to the ongoing and sinister efforts of foreign governments, namely Russia, that plant completely fictitious stories online in an attempt to generate a viral, feeding-frenzy of those stories. These are truly artificial news reports devoid of any journalistic research or genuine reporting. They are logarithmically constructed by foreign trolls with the sole intent of creating distraction and disruption within our political election process.

It's estimated that such posts were viewed by 120 million Americans during the 2016 election. It is impossible to determine whether any voters were swayed as a result of these Russian internet bots. But, it is an absolute certainty, verified by the CIA, NSA, and FBI that this was the work of outside agents wishing to sabotage Democracy…OUR Democracy by means of very real Fake News (or opinions viewed as news) postings. Some in Congress have called it an act of war.

And, with the recent Cambridge Analytica discoveries, it is becoming clearer that the very real online Fake News is omnipresent and not going away.

It is more than just a mistake to call the accurate reporting of legitimate new outlets fake. There has always been and will always be unfavorable reporting about the President; all presidents. The truth sometimes hurts.


Chappaquiddick Review - Powerful, True Life Drama Resonates


The misapplication of the term Fake News is an egregious error on the part of a temperamental President and his ardent followers because doing so conceals the real danger. Cloaked in Fake (internet) News, our Russian enemy is pouring through our porous cyber gates. If enemy planes invaded our airspace, or submarines patrolled our coasts, there would most certainly be a different bipartisan reaction.    

When special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted thirteen Russians and three Russian entities, "accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes", some choose to look the other way. The apparent main instigator, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, denied the charges saying, "The Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see."

Of course, he did. What else was he going to say? "Yes, I made millions as Putin's caterer, but my real endeavor was to run the Internet Research Agency, through which I disrupt American democracy by undermining their political process. That might make Putin upset. Simply put, if given a choice and we certainly do have one, I choose to believe Robert Muller over an indicted Russia or Russian dictator.

It seems some of us red-blooded Americans sometimes fail to remember that Russia is a failed super power whose system of government collapsed in shambles. They are our sworn enemy and will do anything to regain their lost prominence on the world's stage, especially if it comes at our expense.

And yet, our President refuses to identify Russia as an enemy. He's called our own news media the enemy of the American people. It is perplexing, even disturbing that he is so reticent to identify Russia, with all of their very real cyberthreats, as the real enemy of our way of life.

Tim Ortman is the author of Newsreal: A View Through the Lens When…. He spent 35 years working in television news, having worked for all major U.S television news networks and the Foreign Press Corps. As an Emmy-award winning cameraman and producer, his assignments have taken him to five continents, covering everything from war, revolution, terrorist attacks, and famine to Cold War Summits, the fall of Communism, Olympiads and Olympic Park bombings, presidential elections and the occasional press conference. Connect with Tim on Twitter, @TimOrtmanWriter.

Lead image created by Janet Walker; Image of Tim Ortman courtesy of Linkedin.

 

Haute Tease

  • Winners Announced For Academy Nicholl Fellowships

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA –Three individual writers and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.  Each individual winner and the combined writing team will receive a $35,000 prize.

     
  • A Place At The Table Review - Finally A Wake Up Call

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    “A Place At The Table,” from Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media, presents a shocking wake up call into the alarming statistics of Hunger in America through the eyes of those who understand it most.

     
  • Celebrity Photos: Amy Adams, Martin Scorsese, Emma Stone, Denzel Washington Among the Artists Honored At AFI Awards 2016 Luncheon

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    America's finest film and television artists were among the guests honored today by the American Film Institute (AFI) at its annual AFI AWARDS 2016 luncheon. With no winners or losers, AFI AWARDS celebrates the creative ensembles behind the year's most outstanding storytelling.

     
  • Reba Merrill: The Tinsel Town Talker Predicts Oscar Winners and Breaks Open The Archives For a Treat

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Roll out the red carpet, get some fancy clothes add some champagne and you’re ready for your Oscar party. The best part is to win as many categories as possible so to impress your friends with your Hollywood connections.

     
  • Lights Out Review – A Mind Bending, Scary Good, Shocker

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Lights Out, from Atomic Monster, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros Studios, brings to the screen a fantasy horror flick that is everything an ultra-suspenseful, mind bending, psychological fright flick should be and then some.

     
  • TED 2 Review – A Raucous, Raunchy, Bromance Ride

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    TED 2, from Universal Pictures, presents an edgy, frat house, party bus weekend, trip as they travel the extremes of acceptability skating the point of no return with sophomoric jokes and counter culture references.

     
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, James Newton Howard Present Honorary Degrees to Surprised AFI Conservatory Grads

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated this year's 122 AFI Conservatory graduates, and the world's newest filmmakers, at Hollywood's historic TCL Chinese Theatre. During commencement ceremonies, Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa were conferred upon Angela Lansbury and Lawrence Kasdan.