by John W. Whitehead
November 26, 2016
“We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.” ~ Former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg
Let’s talk about fake news stories, shall we?
There’s the garden variety fake news that is not really “news” so much as it is titillating, tabloid-worthy material peddled by anyone with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and an active imagination. These stories run the gamut from the ridiculous and the obviously click-baity to the satirical and politically manipulative.
Anyone with an ounce of sense and access to the Internet should be able to ferret out the truth and lies in these stories with some basic research. That these stories flourish is largely owing to the general gullibility, laziness and media illiteracy of the general public, which through its learned compliance rarely questions, challenges or confronts.
Then there’s the more devious kind of news stories circulated by one of the biggest propagators of fake news: the U.S. government.
In the midst of the media’s sudden headline-blaring apoplexy over fake news, you won’t hear much about the government’s role in producing, planting and peddling propaganda-driven fake news – often with the help of the corporate news media – because that’s not how the game works.
Because the powers-that-be don’t want us skeptical of the government’s message or its corporate accomplices in the mainstream media. They don’t want us to be more discerning when it comes to what information we digest online. They just want us to be leery of independent or alternative news sources while trusting them – and their corporate colleagues – to vet the news for us.