Fake News

All the News That's Fit to Fake

Jesse Walker talks about "fake news" with the Nieman Journalism Lab.


Ricardo Bilton, a staff writer at the Nieman Journalism Lab, read my book about the history of conspiracy theories and decided it might help put the current debate about "fake news" in perspective. So last week he interviewed me, and this week an edited version of our conversation went online. Here's an excerpt:


BILTON: So you're optimistic about media's ability stop fake news from spreading?

WALKER: I looked historically at some of these rumors that floated around in the early 1940s. There was, for example, this idea that blacks in the south were organizing to take over once World War II was over and Hitler would put them in charge. It sounds like the most absurd sort of fake news rumor of today. The thing is it wasn't being circulated online where someone could read it and then easily Google it or click over to Snopes to see the debunking. It was just being talked about face-to-face as a rumor, and that's how it spread.

So, yeah, I'm actually moderately optimistic, because the fact that everyone is talking about fake news and on the lookout for it shows there's more of an awareness of it and how people can be fooled. Obviously, tons of false stories are circulating, but it's easier than before to identify them, and debunk them, and counteract them. I don't know whether it's true that the debunking is doing the job, but the people writing the debunking stories are at least being somewhat empowered in a way they weren't before…

Bilton also asked about political partisanship's effect on people's willingness to believe false reports. After agreeing that yes, partisanship can fuel confirmation bias, I noted another force at work:

For a lot of people, the real assumption that they bring to the news, even beyond their partisan affiliations, is an expectation of a smooth narrative. They expect news stories to look like the movies or TV shows that they're familiar with. Even if they're regular journalism consumers, the stories they remember best are these well done stories that tell a compelling narrative and make them feel like they're watching a movie or TV show.

In reality, stories are messy and have real loose ends. That's the real bias that readers have to combat, and it's something that people in the media have to think about. Because, on the one hand we want to provide good, compelling narratives, but on the other hand, we don't want people to think they live in this world that's made up of these easy, compelling narratives. They don't.

To read the rest, go here. For more from me on "fake news," go here and here. And if you missed Joe Uscinski's recent Reason story about the fake-news debate, be sure to check that out here.

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  1. Jesus rising from the dead is the fake news that started everything.

    1. What did Jesus tell the Apostles and the Romans?

      I’LL BE BACK.

      1. Not the apostle Peter. We all know what Jesus said to Peter as he was hanging on the cross.

        1. “Get me down from here, you dick”?

        2. Always look on the bright side of life?

        3. “Peter, for the love of God, please just scratch my left foot! It’s driving me crazy!”

        4. “Peter, if you get with Mary Magdalene after I am gone, I swear to God I will rise from the dead and fuck your shit up.”

        5. “I can see Russia from here”

      2. What did Jesus tell the Apostles and the Romans?

        “Hold my beer and watch this….”


    1. Trump is a doofus though.

      Maybe you should kill urselfs instead of telling everyone what to do.

      1. Careful, timbo – this emotional mess will do it one of these days and we’ll get the heat for it.

        I’ve deleted a few of my ‘suggestions.’

        1. It will eventually be killed by one of it’s socks. They don’t get along. I believe they’ve already been seen threatening each other.

  3. I’m actually moderately optimistic

    The inevitable rise of the Alex Jones-types, however, is disheartening. But, the “media elites” only have themselves to blame for that.

    1. But, the “media elites” only have themselves to blame for that.


      I mean, of course most of the major media outlets are biased to the left. But there is a difference between biased news and fake news. The few instances of actual fraudulent reporting in the major media, like Bush’s TANG memos or that guy at the NY Times who faked his sources, those were dealt with. But if a story reports the facts, but framed in a leftwing narrative, that’s not “fake news”.

      1. They’ve doubled down on producing fake news since the election.


        1. They have some cool shirts. I might have to go check them out.

        2. Okay, but here’s the thing.

          Some of them are actually fake, yes. But then the writers at The Federalist include things like the Betsy DeVos grizzly bear flap as “fake news”. CNN’s headline was: “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies”. That’s actually not a fake headline. Biased? Slanted? Yes. But not fake. DeVos DID cite grizzly bear attacks as one potential reason to have guns at school.

          1. And this is coming from someone who is rooting for DeVos to be confirmed.

          2. And yet on social media all you saw was basically “DeVos calls for guns in schools because of risk of Grizzly Bear Attacks”.

            I Actually got in a fight with my wife over that very issue because she is a victim of creeping progressivism disease and was convinced that DeVos is one stop shy of the Devil herself even though my wife actually supports school choice and we homeschooled our kids for several years.

            The headline may have been technically accurate but it was clear that there has been a concerted effort to sell the implication of that headline as if it were the accurate perception of what she said.

          3. Sometimes something is so slanted that it tips over into fake. Accurate but fake, or something like that.

      2. Why? Gee, I don’t know: Dan Rather and 2004, exploding cars, etc etc. And it’s not just bias, it is naked activism.

        1. Dan Rather’s TANG Memos? Yes, fake.
          Exploding Cars scandal? Yes, fake.
          Typical biased headline like “Republicans Refuse to Condemn Latest Ginned-Up Outrage Of The Day”? Not fake. Just biased.

          The anti-fake-news brigade is going too far in condemning genuinely fake news, by also condemning conservative media as being “fake”.

          But the anti-anti-fake-news brigade is ALSO going too far, by not only condemning legitimately fake news, but also condemning simply left-wing-biased media as also being “fake”.

          So as usual, Team Red and Team Blue are using the controversy about “fake news” as just a prop in their endless narrative war against each other.

          While I am here saying “screw you both, neither one is ‘fake’, and you are actually doing a disservice to legitimate reporting by going too far in declaring the media that you merely disagree with as being untruthful”.

          And quite frankly I would expect an outfit like Reason to stick up for fact-based reporting no matter what the slant may be, rather than trying to pick sides in the “fake news” narrative war between left and right.

      3. You mean to tell me that the left-wing media’s institutionalized approach to twisting the fact is not “fake news” according to the definition commonly used by the left wing media? Interesting.

    2. But, the “media elites” only have themselves to blame for that.

      I don’t agree platforms like Jones’s Info Wars have always existed. Look no further than the extended run that the National Enquirer. who much like Jones I’ve actually never met anybody that actually takes it more than a joke or purchased it yet is consistently always available in the checkout line at stores. I think a lot of people view things like Info Wars and the National Enquirer as entertainment and that market will always exist.

      1. I should have said rise in popularity and influence for outlets like Alex Jones (what was that stat from Moynihan’s interview – he has like 6 billion youtube views), who demonize the media elites. That tactic usually only goes so far.

      2. Why aren’t the National Enquirer, World News Daily, and the like not brought up as examples that fake news that has always been around. Oh, because the idea of fake news being some kind of new epidemic is itself fake news.

        1. The papers I see at the supermarket checkout line are about celebrities and diets (and celebrity diets), not Elvis and UFOs which IIRC is the Weekly World News’ schtick.

          They used to have both types of papers, but maybe the word came down to class things up a bit. Or maybe all the UFO stuff has migrated to the Internet.

          1. Or…it could be a cover-up.

      3. To be fair, it was the National Enquirer that broke the story of John Edwards knocking up his mistress; it was one of those things that ‘everyone’ knew about but the ‘mainstream’ media would not touch. Once the Enquirer story was out, they could no longer ignore it and it tanked Edward’s bid for the White House.

    3. Those people, the Alex Jones type, have been around forever on late night am radio and that was only a small part of it. My step dad, a very smart man had all sorts of conspiracy books prior to the internet and he believed them all. Which is surprising since he is one of the many that were fooled by Orson Welles war of the worlds radio broadcast.

  4. I blame “reality” TV.

      1. Real life doesn’t fit into little boxes that were drawn for it.

        1. See, I think it’s the opposite. Reality is just too prosaic and predictable for many people to accept on its face. You wouldn’t need to invent a narrative of Russia “hacking the election” if you understand, and are prepared to accept, that national politics is decided by state electors. Or that the logistics just don’t allow for “3-5 million illegal voters” to swing the popular vote. That’s boring, technical crap with loads of inputs and one unsatisfying output. No, it’s much more satisfying and heartening to think the election was stolen by a shadowy cabal of outsiders, and that anyone denying it is ignorant or part of the conspiracy.

          1. Well, I guess I should have used quotes. I’ll leave the Google to you should you care to look it up.

            I’ll use quotes for this one though:

            “Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction. For fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it.”

            1. I’m going to say: Mark Twain. It’s always Mark Twain. Unless it’s Nietzsche. It’s always either Nietzsche or Mark Twain.

              1. This particular version is GK Chesterton. It is said that the original came from Lord Byron.

                1. “Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.” – Lord Byron

                  1. “Put your lips on my dick, and suck my a**hole, too.” – Robert Frost

                    1. Sorry, i’ve been waiting for a chance to use that, but I haven’t found a good segue.

                    2. (I wasn’t targeting a particular person, just sharing classic poetry)

                    3. OK, I’m really, really sorry – the vulgarity didn’t even have the excuse of a point this time, I was simply trying to unload a joke.

      2. I blame Hollywood, if you know what I mean…

  5. Go here and here and there and here.

    So pushy for a libertarian.

    1. Haha! This is my favorite chortle so far today. I like this one.

  6. Here is something that isnt a conspiracy theory, something we see over and over throughout history:

    Totalitarian regimes use ‘fake news’ as a pretense for cracking down on and controlling the media. It starts out with fines and targeting of specific entities and ends with the government being the sole voice and arbiter of truth. If you think this ‘fake news’ meme wasn’t ginned up with that goal in mind you are fooling yourself. We really dodged a bullet in november. Hillary wasn’t kidding when she said she intended to crush news organizations that had no right to exist. She and her toadies are the ones who came up with this nonsense.

    1. Oh my dear Lord.

      I don’t know which is more tedious, the TRUMP = HITLER hysteria, or the HILLARY = HITLER hysteria

      1. Especially since HILLARY = HILLARY is bad enough.

        1. Yeah, there’s really no need to embellish on Hillary’s evil, she’s going down as one of the most evil in history all on her own merit. Give credit where merit is due. Sure, she didn’t murder tens of millions, but she didn’t become leader of a country either, thank God.

          1. “She is light, itself”
            – Lena Dunham (arguably cost Hillary six points nationally by being a vocal supporter)

          2. ” she’s going down as one of the most evil in history”

            Okay stop right there.

            Are you even listening to yourself?

            Examining all of the horrifically evil people in all of human history – you really think Hillary would even rank in the top 50 on that list? Or the top 100?

            Look, she’s a corrupt politician who used her office via her foundation to solicit influence, and tried to bend the law to her will in attempting to cover it up. I get it.

            But corruption is a far cry from genuinely evil acts like mass murder or mass enslavement. Don’t you think?

            You don’t persuade anyone by rightfully railing against hyperbolic anti-Trump articles, and then proceeding to engage in your own version of anti-Hillary or anti-Left hyperbole. Who do you think you will persuade with that technique?

            1. Agreed. Hillary is definitely not the ‘most evil person in history’.

              But, Lena Dunham is the least talented person in history. I don’t think you can argue that

              1. Okay, I can go with that. 🙂

            2. Chemjeff, you are one of my favorite commenters on here. There are very few of us here that are equally critical of both the left and the right. It appears that the majority of the commentariat came from the right and are unable to shed their red roots. They are apparently more motivated by a hate for Democrats than a love of freedom. Why anyone would defend the GOP as somehow better is beyond me. The only reason I can think of is that the tribal brainwashing goes deep, to the pre-teen years of listening to their parents bitch about how evil liberals are. Free yourself from such tribal shackles. Become an individual.

              1. Speak for yourself, I came from Red roots. And Eddie’s a bloody former progressive, which is just mind-boggling.

                1. Oh I think a lot of us come from Red roots. I do. But when I see people like Hyperion write things like “Hillary is one of the most evil people in all of history” then it’s clear that he’s still a member of the Red Tribe.

                  1. Yeah, I think we’re talking about different kinds of Red.

              2. Why thank you 🙂

                It was my love of individualism that attracted me first to conservatism and then to libertarianism, and why I could never consider myself a progressive. I was fine with calling myself a conservative when conservatives like Rush L. would talk about “rugged individualism” and the like. But once I realized that it was all a fraud, Rush et al. only told their audiences what they wanted to hear, and that the conservative base of voters would choose nationalist collectivism over individualism in a heartbeat, that is when I jumped ship.

                “They are apparently more motivated by a hate for Democrats than a love of freedom. ”

                Yes, and I find it incredibly sad.

                1. Chemjeff, I also became originally attracted to libertarianism because of my love of individualism.
                  That is why I get so upset when that focus is lost. These days, we hear about how libertarianism is just about the NAP and nothing else. It is then easy to misapply and twist this principle and this leads to bizarre conclusions such as libertarians supporting border walls. Nothing is more antithetical to freedom than a border wall. I know this first hand.

                  The mistake many libertarians make is to take the NAP as the starting point of our philosophy. But the NAP should be the conclusion, not the starting point. The NAP must be interpreted in light of a greater context, and if that context is not individualism, it will lead to collectivist, anti-freedom consequences.

              3. Why anyone would defend the GOP as somehow better is beyond me.

                I cannot speak to anyone else’s intentions, but I live in a state that is run by Democrats. I don’t mean “they won one or two elections and I’m just a whiner”. I mean, they have held nothing less than a legislative supermajority for longer than I’ve been alive. Yes, I could move, but I grew up here, my family’s here, my friends are here.

                I know what the Democrats do when they have little competition for power. That doesn’t mean I think the Republicans should swap places with them and spend decades holding the legislature uncontested. But there is a material difference from a libertarian perspective between the average Democrat in my state and the average Republican. The former can be as crazy as he likes and has to compromise with no one, while the latter has to be at least semi-sane and somewhat willing to compromise. Except for cases where the bipartisan position is anti-liberty, which are not few enough for my liking, such a political environment forces the Republicans to be less focused on their own brand of statism. That makes them the better choice, on average, although the predictive power of that maxim is not rock-solid.

                1. Kbolino, what you are talking about is the difference between the party in power and the party out of power, not some inherent difference between Democrats and Republicans. Of course the party out of power is going to have the better rhetoric with respect to criticizing the government. This does not reflect on their principles, but rather on their situation.

                  1. ^^^ So much this.

                    You’ll note that when the left-wing press tries to highlight some right-wing nut saying some nutty things, it is almost always some back-bencher legislator from a deep red state like Oklahoma. Because there, they can be as crazy and nutty as they want, and they face no serious opposition. Where I am, in Missouri, you have the Republican gubernatorial candidate saying outrageous Trumpian things about cleaning up the corruption in the capital, and then you have the Democrat candidate touting how much he loves guns.

          3. I doubt she’d have been ruinous, but I do think she’d have cemented many of the projects Obama left untidy (fully nationalizing healthcare, for one, overturning Heller & CU), and maintained the same anemic growth. The real problems would come later: if you’re mistrustful of Trump, think about what sort of populist nightmare might have eventuated out of sixteen years of uninterrupted Democratic rule. Trump has a lot of worrisome defects, but he’s at least tempered by a somewhat sane coalition of evangelicals, former Democratic voters, “establishment” types, and economic malcontents. People who have modest ambitions, in other words: get the economy growing at an appreciable rate, GTFO of the coal industry, put a moratorium on the insane culture war bullshit the left never fails to push, get our borders and visa system under control, that sort of thing.

            1. I agree with this for the most part. And it would have been generally bad for the cause of liberty and for the country generally IMO. But that is a far cry from “one of the most evil people in all of history” or some such.

              1. She’d have been the worst president since the last one, but that’s true of almost all of them.

                1. Hard to argue with that.

      2. Is hysteria symmetric and transitive?

        1. New dictionary definition of hysteria:

          When the left does not get their way on everything.

      3. It’s easy to see what is most tedious. You.

        1. Nuh uh! You are!

        2. No no I get it. Hyperbolic pants-shitting about Trump is beyond the pale, but hyperbolic pants-shitting about Hillary is totes awesome, particularly on a website called Reason

          1. And no, before you say anything, I am not “pro-Hillary”, I am simply anti-hysteria whether it comes from the left or the right.

            1. I am simply anti-hysteria

              Dude, that ship sailed from this port way back in September, 2014.

              1. No, my sweet HM, that ship sailed over a hundred years ago.

                1. Fuck, SFed the link.

              2. Oh, so you want to see an Ebola outbreak here in the US.


                1. Well, I was not around for what was evidently the Great Ebola Wars of 2014 here at Reason.

                  1. I believe that was also the origin of everyone accusing everyone else of “pants shitting”.

              3. The Great 2014 Ebola Freakout, never forget.

    2. She and her toadies are the ones who came up with this nonsense.

      And then Trump jumped right on board with it.

      A funny thing about the fake news stuff (and I mean the stuff that was knowingly just made up out of whole cloth) is that a whole bunch of it seems to have come from left-wing activist types trying to troll right-wingers so that they could show how dumb they were when they believed it. Which worked in many cases, but didn’t have quite the effect they had hoped for if they thought it would hurt Trump’s credibility.

  7. “”””There was, for example, this idea that blacks in the south were organizing to take over once World War II was over and Hitler would put them in charge.””””

    There was also the story put out by Roosevelt in October 27, 1941 who said he had a “secret map” that showed Germany taking over South America. The pro-war press like that fake news and ran with it and never asked Roosevelt to show them this map


    1. They could have sent all those soldiers dying from exposure in Siberia to enjoy a nice malarial excursion into Brazil.


  9. The media outed itself during the bill Clinton years and are finally reaping their sins.

    Now trump can get away with whatever he wants

    The end result as always will be bigger government.

    The media is as culpable in the downfall of America as the politicians. And neither will be jailed or tried.

    1. The problem is that the media discredited itself over the past eight years. Instead of behaving like the Fourth Estate, it instead decided to play ‘cheerleader’. Now that they have become aggressive again no one is believing them, because they behaved so slavishly over the past eight years.

    2. I’m not seeing Trump striving for bigger government. Just the opposite thus far.

      But then again, I think it’s beyond silly for Reason to keep grasping at straws in an effort to bash Trump over the slightest of slights. The guy has basically done nothing bad, yet. I fully expect him to do so considering his law and order rhetoric, sooner or later. From a libertarian perspective the guy looks like the most libertarian president in history so far. But he’ll do something, something real and substantive soon enough for libertarians to hate. You’ll know it’s happened when you see the commentariat here bashing him. You can’t pay any attention to Reason on the subject as they will rush to write a hit piece on Trump’s every tweet, no matter how benign. They seem to actually just be parroting HuffPo at this point.

      1. I’m not seeing Trump striving for bigger government. Just the opposite thus far.

        5,000 more Border Patrol agents, a bigger military, and building a wall wouldn’t create a bigger government?

        1. Never mind whatever his plan is to remove illegal immigrants.

          1. Let’s not talk about his plan to cut regulations by 75% or his picks for EPA or DOE. Let’s be balanced here, lest someone mistake us for the writers.

            1. He’s half and half. Some good, some very bad. I see it as a more desirable outcome, though, over the alternative. The main problem, though, is that if the media (including Reason) continues to shit its pants over everything and neglects to highlight anything good that he might do, people will stop believing the media and they will be seen as just the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party.

              If you’re not being balanced then your failing to show just how bad his bad policies are

              1. Phew, I didn’t think you were going to complain about the website.

              2. Don’t get me wrong Fire. Trump represents slowing the train to hell down by a few years. That is all we can hope for when the world has abandoned free market capitalism.

            2. Cutting regulations and decimating government agencies are all great things but they are a drop in the bucket.

              He has sent the signals at least that the most expensive sacred cows will remain untouched.

              Military complex is safe, entitlements are safe, the FED will not be audited or dismantled and the big banks appear to be safe via the treasury pick. Lastly, a massive stimulus is more government spending.
              He is simply doing some slight of hand with the really good things he is proposing if you keep spending on the biggest boondoggles.

              1. “Military complex is safe”

                And that really is the worst part. Some people, such as the writers at the American Conservative, held out hope that Trump would usher in a restrained foreign policy. It is still early, but his recent actions suggest that he’ll just continue President Obama’s mildly restrained foreign policy with spasms of mindless and unnecessary war (Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc.).

                1. Yep, I’m not holding out much hope for Trump reining in the Pseudo-Wars so far. Which is a shame because Mattis has been a pretty good critic of this sort of thing.

            3. That might make for less damaging government in some ways, but I’m not so sure about smaller. I think his promise to reduce regulation could turn out to be good, but I don’t see any net reduction in the size or scope of government. He’s not a principled small government guy. He’s pro-business, but outside of that I don’t see a lot of reason to expect reductions in personnel or spending.

              It ridiculous to make any conclusion about “most libertarian president” or anything at this point. It’s been like 2 weeks. And past experience tells me not to be optimistic about any president. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

        2. I’m not interested in taking a side in this because i think you both have half-a-point

          but i think it should be considered that when people talk about “big government” what they traditionally mean is the expansion of federal authority into areas it doesn’t belong

          (e.g. FDA preventing drugs from coming to market, BLM fucking with ranchers, EPA imposing huge costs on any development projects, DoE’s title IX enforcement, etc)

          not merely the # of people staffing the jobs that even small-govt conservatives think the federal govt is justified doing. Basically, just as “the media” is shorthand for a slice of the media (and doesn’t include ‘talk radio’ when conservatives talk about ‘media bias’), “big government” is shorthand for the “non-security-related” aspects of government that people feel are expanding into areas better addressed by market-forces.

          i think its fair to say that Trump’s small-govt bona fides remain mostly rhetorical; but he’s only been president for 2 weeks. I’m curious where we’ll be in a year or 2.

          1. I’m curious where we’ll be in a year or 2.

            Of course.

          2. but i think it should be considered that when people talk about “big government” what they traditionally mean is the expansion of federal authority into areas it doesn’t belong

            Like, the President determining whether or not you can move your business out of the country?

            1. Or making the stock market more erratic by tweeting threats to the business world.

              Here is where the media on the right is totally acting like CNN and MSNBC already. The apologists at FOX and Rush L. are absolutely comical at defending the things that trump is doing that are already exactly the same as Brak’s antics.

            2. That’s nothing new, and its not necessarily a novel use of federal authority

              its called “jawboning“, and if it produces better incentives, like reduction of domestic regulations and taxes, that’s just the govt trying to increase the competitiveness of the US

              its notable that what Obama did in exactly the same respect WAS an expansion of federal powers, by using the Treasury department to claw back overseas profits

              i don’t necessarily agree with either effort by the executive to meddle in where businesses choose to expand investment;

              however, i don’t think its right to characterize ‘changes to incentives’ as being the same as ‘imposing punishments’. i think trump probably will do BOTH, whereas Obama mostly preferred the stick.

              Again – i’m not presenting any case that Trump is some small-govt champion, and don’t confuse me for doing so. I’m simply pointing out that some of the things you’re naming aren’t actually even in the ballpark as far as typical ‘big government’ expansion of authority.

          3. I also mean massive spending when I talk big government. That is the albatross when taken as a whole.

            That is going to be our downfall because of the debt bomb because none of the biggest spending will stop until the implosion.

            1. Big government is what we already have. If a president isn’t talking about significantly reducing the size and scope of what is already there, I’m going to call him a supporter of Big Government.

        3. Not to mention all the other promised infrastructure spending. And he’s somehow going to fix inner cities as well.

          1. Yes, and Reagan was a big government conservative too.

            “better” is not “good”

            whether its even “better” remains to be seen. But i think if you’re expecting “good” via presidential-elections, you’re setting yourself up for perpetual disappointment.

            1. I’m certainly not expecting good. I’m slightly hopeful for some “better”, but as you say, we shall see.

              Maybe Hyp. is right that Trump won’t give us bigger government (though I have my doubts). But I don’t see him doing anything significant to reduce the size and cost of the current, much-too-big government.

              1. But I don’t see him doing anything significant to reduce the size and cost of the current, much-too-big government.

                What you seem to be saying here and above is that you’re unimpressed/disinterested in anything short of a fire-breathing libertarian who promises to slash spending and shutter agencies.

                as per my above comments – i think its unrealistic, and pretends that great-change is possible overnight through the figure of a single elected official rather than through years of pressure on everyone in congress.

                if there is any improvement at all, it will be marginal and slow, and it will happen in the background of rule-making and how agency authority is either restricted or expanded.

                If there’s anything at all praiseworthy about Trump its that the few things he has done so far / promises to do seem to be aimed in this direction rather than merely waving around his faux-government-slashing Big New Program which is really just ‘different spending’ in disguise (which is exactly what you’d have gotten from any other GOP president)

                1. footnote:

                  I think the headline ‘small govt’ things Trump will do will be like the headline ‘environmental’ things obama did – mostly symbolic.

                  e.g. Obama talked a lot about “green jobs” and transforming our energy infrastructure, etc.

                  that was his marketing ploy, tho – not his actual strategy. The big, flagship plans aren’t where the real insidious stuff happens.

                  What Obama did that was more pernicious was in rule-making via EPA/DoE, mostly quietly on the side. It wasn’t particularly “green”, but a lot of it was harmful/costly to the people his constituents wanted to hurt.

                  Similarly, i think if you want to hear trump deliver screeds about shrinking govt, you’re 1) going to be disappointed, and 2) that’s not where the interesting stuff happens anyway.

                  my recommendation is stop expecting any “not a leftist”-President to meet your imagined ideals, and instead pay attention to the way ‘shadow government’ of agency authority is either expanding or contracting.

                  this same point would be made to Reason if i thought they were actually listening.

                2. I really don’t expect anything. And I don’t think there is any realistic expectation that anyone I think is good will ever be elected. I’m just saying what I think.

                  1. I really don’t expect anything. And I don’t think there is any realistic expectation that anyone I think is good will ever be elected.

                    yep, and this is something i think remains an achilles heel of libertarians as far as practical politics goes.

                    its often a movement more concerned with purity-posturing than effecting change long-term. Which is why Rand Paul has mostly abandoned even trying to reach out to libertarians: they end up shitting on him harder than mainstream conservatives do. If pleasing libertarians means taking positions which guarantee political failure, then why bother?

                    1. Well, I don’t expect anyone is going to try to please me either. If liberty oriented people want to get involved in practical politics, I wish them all the best. But that’s not what I’m interested in. I’m just here to amuse myself and commiserate with more or less like minded people.

                    2. I’m just here to amuse myself and commiserate with more or less like minded people.

                      i hear you, and that’s probably my main motivation here as well.

                      still – something i think worth noting is that from a practical standpoint is that what little “slightly less-government” (or ‘slightly less-awful government’) stuff Trump is pushing forward is being done mostly DESPITE libertarians rather than because of our influence.

                      it irritates me that libertarians spent brand-credibility apologizing for someone like Bill Weld, while the Alt-Right (read: Milo’s type, not ‘white nationalism’) ends up gaining more popular credibility among young people because they’re the ones actually making a vigorous case against contemporary leftist orthodoxy.

  10. There’s fake news like NASA shot the moon landing out in the Arizona desert and then there’s fake news like Obamacare includes a provision for death panels.

    Then you get the fake news spin, like the idea that Obamacare includes a provision for death panels is fake news only a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist could believe – they’re not “death panels”, they’re “quality of life” panels who are merely going to decide when you’re too old and feeble to bother spending money on medical care for. See? Totally not a death panel. Just a “not going to keep alive” panel.

    Like Trump claiming there’s so many terrorist attacks that the media is covering up and not reporting on is fake news, a lie. But the fake news spinmeisters immediately claim that what Trump meant was that the media was covering these attacks but trying to claim they weren’t really terrorist attacks. What Trump said is a fact, what Trump meant only Trump knows [citation needed] and if everybody knows the media was spinning the story, it sort of raises the question of how do you know this? Because the media you’re partial to reported the fact that the media you’re not partial to was spinning the news? But of course, the media you’re partial to isn’t “the media” you’re talking about when you talk bad about “the media”, they’re some completely different media, aren’t they?

    1. “Obamacare includes a provision for death panels”

      Obamacare is a death panel.

    2. There’s fake news like NASA shot the moon landing out in the Arizona desert and then there’s fake news like Obamacare includes a provision for death panels.

      That is fake news?


      The IPAB is a death panel. It just hasn’t been impaneled yet. But that is not for Obama’s lack of trying. So at most that is “fake spin”. But it is not fake news because there is a very reasonable and compelling case that the IPAB is a death panel.

      1. When Obama said that maybe grandma should just take a pill, he wasn’t joking.

        1. No he wasn’t. And neither is the DEA when they come and throw grandma and her doctor in prison for the dreaded crime of “opiate abuse”. Hell of a system Obama wanted to create; “just take a pain pill so my DEA can come and throw you in prison”.

  11. I don’t care about the bullshit “fake news” like Pizzagate.

    What bothers me is stuff CNN does. or lately, the WaPo.

    1. Pure little snivelling rats.

  12. I’m enjoying this early spring. I have the heat off and doors and windows open. It must be 70 outside this morning at minimum.

    1. Here we have alternating snow and freezing rain.

      1. We got our weather just right, for a change: beautiful this weekend, dismal during the week.

    2. No kidding. This climate change stuff is really cool.
      There are two seasons out of the year that are elongated to the point that I can save hundreds of dollars on my hearting and cooling bills.

    3. I think it sucks. I want snow. Getting some today, but it’s going to rain tomorrow.

  13. The reason why there is so much fake news is not so much partisanship, though that can be a factor. The biggest reason is that Journalists are generally ignorant and usually know very little about he subjects they cover. The thing about knowing anything is that you can’t tell truth from bullshit. For example, I don’t know the first thing about computer code writing. So if I would have a very difficult time telling if someone was bullshiting about the subject or not. You have to know a subject to be able to recognize who is an expert in it and who is a conning you. And journalists in most cases don’t know much.

    When you combine this with a natural confirmation bias that everyone has towards believing facts that confirm their political or cultural prejudices, you end up with a lot of fake news. Time and again reporters believe and report complete bullshit because it confirms their biases and they don’t know enough about a subject to see it as bullshit. A good example of this is environmental reporting. Let anyone in a lab coat tell a reporter that “studies have shown’ this or that substance is dreadfully harmful to man and beast, and it will always get reported as fact no matter how bad the science behind the claims is.

    1. Not only don’t they not know much, they get wrong simple facts. In every news story in which I was a participant or closely associated with, the reporter mangled quotes, dates, even names of the principal actors and their titles. If I, for example, questioned Lincoln’s attitude toward slavery, a reporter called me a “strong supporter of Lincoln as one of the greatest presidents of all time.”

      1. Talk to anyone who has had a family member involved with a criminal trial that made the news. They will all tell you how the news got virtually every basic fact wrong. You really can’t hate journalists enough.

        1. Was once on a jury for a case where the trial got media coverage. We must’ve been watching a different trial is all I can say.

  14. OT: Betsy DeVos is about to be confirmed, assuming VP Pence doesn’t pull a heel turn.

    1. No heel turn. She’s confirmed, 51-50.

      1. She was confirmed by Van Hagar?

    2. Well, that is good news indeed.

    3. The progs are r-e-e-e-e-ally reaching here.

      igorvolsky Verified account

      The fact that Pence was forced to cast the tie-breaking vote in the DeVos nomination is a big win for the resistance movement

      1. All I can say is: I hope DeVos brings the pain. No excuses, no prisoners, shoot the deserters and push on to total victory.

        1. These people want to pretend they’re waging a guerrilla war against the administration while using poor people as cannon fodder, they deserve to get it in spades. Break the backs of the teachers unions.

      2. Huh? Is she less SHE-WOLF, MISTRESS OF EDUCATION? Do they think she’s the slightest bit more likely to get fired, impeached, or anything else bad? If she’s really here to dismantle Education (something that’s extremely unlikely, unfortunately), she’s going to do so with the Senate, House, President, and SCOTUS waving her on.

      3. It’s egg on their face, thanks to Harry Reid. This is momentous, because the Democrats would have been able to filibuster and kill the nomination if not for Harry Reid.

        Thank you Harry Reid. Your mindless grab for power has exploded in your face spectacularly.

        1. You know, I really never get tired of reading variations on this.

  15. It’s not fake news if you believe it. /msm

  16. Davos confirmed.the Trumpenreich continues.

    Oh andease. I refuse to be lectured about fake news by a cucked Nick.

  17. The unspoken premise by the interviewer is that traditional media has a privileged position of objectivity from which it can correct “fake news”. This premise is complete and utter horseshit, as has been proven by the divergent reactions to rightist versus leftist politicians and ideology, and the fealty the media has given to “transformational” leftism. To the degree that the media finds its own biases unassailable and aligns itself with this or that side of a partisan squabble, “fake news” will not only be more of a problem but it will in fact be encouraged by this arrogant attitude.

  18. If you aren’t understanding that the main purveyor of ‘fake news’ IS the mainstream media, you really shouldn’t be pretending to expertise on it.

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