Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

The Triumph of Falsehood

Truth struggles when people prefer to believe the lies.

not listeningAtholpady / Dreamstime.comIn 1644, the English poet John Milton made an eloquent case against censorship. Freedom of thought and inquiry was not only a God-given prerogative but also the best protection against error: "Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"

Milton was fortunate enough to live before the internet. It has shown that among many people, truth doesn't have a chance in an encounter with manufactured falsehoods aimed at not only smearing enemies but obliterating the idea of objective reality.

There is now a bustling industry of websites and Twitter accounts whose chief product is fiction masquerading as fact. Their success was both cause and effect of the rise of Donald Trump, who went beyond any previous major presidential candidate in saying things that were utterly baseless and easily refutable.

He didn't have to wait to reach the White House to fulfill his promise to create new jobs. His campaign generated a new demand for fact-checkers, who found that trying to expose his lies was like trying to stay dry in a hurricane. The torrent was too big, fierce and persistent to overcome.

Trump peddled bogus information and profited from that spread by others. Of the 20 most read phony election-related stories circulated on Facebook during the campaign, 17 made him look good or Hillary Clinton look bad. The top two: the pope's endorsement of Trump and Clinton's selling arms to the Islamic State, neither of which contained a particle of truth.

Trump voters are not the only ones with a penchant for believing things purely because they are convenient. The website Vox reported that most of Bernie Sanders' followers want universal health care and free public college tuition but aren't willing to pay anything close to what they would cost in higher taxes. Most Americans can't name their member of Congress or the three branches of government.

It's no accident that so many Americans choose to be uninformed or misinformed. Educating yourself about candidates and their platforms by getting reliable information has little payoff. Your vote, wise or foolish, rarely makes a difference in the policies that affect you.

Being wrong about candidates generally costs you nothing, unlike being deluded about more practical matters. If you think you can fly, you will get a painful lesson when you leap off your roof. But if you believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim—as more than half of Republican primary voters did—you suffer no injury from indulging that fantasy.

In fact, you gain something: a powerful sense of connection with others who share your outlook. For most people who have great interest in politics, argued George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan in his 2007 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, ideology is a form of religion, and its disciples act more on faith than on evidence.

"Human beings want their religion's answers to be true," he wrote, and stick to them in the face of contradictory information. We have little reason to behave differently on Election Day. "Why control your knee-jerk emotional and ideological reactions if you can't change the outcome?" asked Caplan.

Conventional politicians shade and embellish the truth, but within established bounds. They have enough respect for voters to ration their deceptions.

What made Trump different was his conviction that most people are happy to be fed nonsense as long as it is palatable. He lied without reservation or limit, about topics big and small, and he got away with it. Among his followers, some believed he was telling the truth and some didn't care.

"Fake news" sources exploit the same cynical strategy, confident that many readers will seek out anything that confirms their prejudices and reject anything that doesn't. The news media have discovered that while there is a demand for accurate information, there is also a market, possibly bigger, for malignant myths. No lie is too big or absurd to find a gullible audience.

Not only that, fake news sites have a competitive advantage. Honest press outlets often present information their readers find unwelcome. Dishonest ones offer their customers the promise that their illusions will be preserved no matter what.

Our system of government rests on the assumption that in the long run, the truth will prevail over falsehoods. We have yet to consider what to do if our faith in the truth turns out to be false.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

Photo Credit: Atholpady / Dreamstime.com

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  • Quixote||

    On the contrary, it's time we realize that the privileged, libtard pundits have taken the "free speech" baloney a little too far. It's the "official" news that's fake, and if we really want to make America great again, we should criminalize all of those lies, along with the trolls and the "satirists." Surely no one here would dare to defend the outrageous "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge in our nation's leading criminal "parody" case? See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • MichaelL||

    The basic problem I have is when someone claims, "You lie" when they don't agree with an opinion. It can be even more complicated when science and opinion do not agree because they cannot.. Claiming that killing a zygote is murder could be called a lie. But, in the eye of a person who sees conception as the beginning of a life, that would be so. Contrary to that, one might say that abortion is murder. It is not a lie, as such, according to that person's beliefs. But, spontaneous abortion occurs as a normal physiologic occurrence. Is that because God murdered a baby?!

    Arguing that capitalism is not what we are practicing in our country at the present could also be called a lie. But, to many of us, we have seen the fact that truly free trade, between people, is not always allowed, if it is done with "crony capitalism". So true capitalism is not being practiced. It is not a lie, either. These are just a couple of examples that could be seen using a narrow view of many situations.

    We need to stop calling each other liars, and figure out how to honestly and civilly communicate our differences, to each other, leaving out the emotional response of, "LIAR!!"

  • Spinach Chin||

    What?

  • Rational Exuberance||

    AddictionMyth is apparently on his "meds" again.

  • Suicidy||

    Well, meth is a helluva drug.

  • ||

    Read his website where he posts as himself and Dajjal arguing with each other. The meds aren't working, he's too far gone.

  • ||

    What did you guys do to that poor guy anyway? Piss in his cheerios?

  • incognitoburrito||

    Something something known evil versus something something unknown evil

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Not that many here care, but if you ask Republican primary voters these questions --

    "Do you believe that Mr. Obama CLAIMS to be Christian?" The vast, overwhelming majority will answer "YES"
    "Do you believe Mr. Obama publicly claims to be Muslim?" The vast, overwhelming majority will answer "NO"
    "Do you believe MR. Obama's claims of a strong Christina faith are just self-serving lies?" The majority will answer YES.

    I think it goes without saying that (right or wrong) the majority of republican primary voters think Obama is a huge liar. Hence, the argument: "Red State conservatives think he's a secret Muslim, but they are all wrong because.....he said he's not." Is not exactly air tight.

    It's very possible these conservative folks are 100% dead wrong. It has not been established as fact that they are wrong...unless you can see into the recesses of Obama's heart. Therefore, It's disappointing for a REASON writer to assert these republicans actually believe false FACTS.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Do you believe MR. Obama's claims of a strong Christina faith are just self-serving lies?" The majority will answer YES.

    YES

    My estimate that that he thinks of himself as an atheist.

    I think he's a Progressive Theocrat.

  • ||

    Is it irony that this is the first post on an echo chamber post or just the physics of the Internet?

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Yes.

  • SadlyShakingHead||

    Conventional politicians shade and embellish the truth, but within established bounds. They have enough respect for voters to ration their deceptions.

    [Citation needed]

  • Rational Exuberance||

    They have enough respect for voters to ration their deceptions.

    In fact, that's obviously false. Almost every single issue that Hillary was talking about, she was taking a position that served crony capitalist interests and that was contradicted by facts and truth: gun control, government spending, Citizens United, climate change, race relations, etc. The only thing that Hillary did was to skillfully obfuscate her positions behind weasel words.

  • Rat voted NOTA||

    Ends justify means.

  • incognitoburrito||

    Progs claim to hate those big mean 'ole corporations and crony capitalism, but in reality they just want to be the ones that get to choose the cronies. Namely, (subsidized) green energy.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    The only thing that Hillary did was to skillfully obfuscate her positions behind weasel words.

    I don't know about the 'skills' part. The bag lady figured out how to lose to Big Orange, and almost arrived at difficult solution of blowing basically rigged (oh, that word again) primary against an old man who screams at the weather.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Citation impossible. All of the Liberal Left and much of the establishment Right have been spouting utter pigswill since about 1930, if not longer.

  • Spinach Chin||

    "What made Trump different was his conviction that most people are happy to be fed nonsense as long as it is palatable. He lied without reservation or limit, about topics big and small, and he got away with it. Among his followers, some believed he was telling the truth and some didn't care."

    There's a quote going around by Selena Zito that perfectly encapsulates how pearl-clutchers like Chapman get Trump completely wrong:

    "The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally."

    Chapman thinks Trump was elected because his supporters are a bunch of rubes.

    Nope.

    Trump was elected because the press are a bunch of rubes.

  • Suicidy||

    Indeed.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Trump was elected because we were given a choice between a felonius scold with severe entitlement issues and a clown. And the electorate voted for the clown, and now they are making popcorn and sitting back for the circus.

  • Spinach Chin||

    He's machiavellian, and uses dupes who think he's an idiot to advance his agenda. Just look at the results (and his approval rating) so far. It's undeniably working.

    But, hey, you go ahead with the "Idiot that blindly stumbles into success after success" meme and see how far that takes you...

  • Bra Ket||

    The left just needs to explain their message better with a more pure and true progressive candidate.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    "Fake news" sources exploit the same cynical strategy, confident that many readers will seek out anything that confirms their prejudices and reject anything that doesn't.

    Well, Chapman, you should know: after all, that's what most of your journalistic career has been like.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Our system of government rests on the assumption that in the long run, the truth will prevail over falsehoods.

    No, it doesn't. It rests on limited government and personal responsibility. That is, if you live your life based on fake news, you have to pay the price for your stupidity yourself.

    The idea that government ought to be based on "prevailing truth" is the error of technocrats, socialists, and progressives. But, then, that pretty much describes Chapman, doesn't it?

  • BigW||

    Ah yes the old canard. We can't hold to our old standards .... because Internet!!!

    Fuck off slaver.

    Oh and didn't notice the Chapman byline until well into the story.

    Free speech is fucking free speech Stevie boy. A real libertarian writer at a real libertarian magazine would fucking know that... but you and Reason are not really libertarian nowadays are you?

  • Rat voted NOTA||

    It's liberALtarian now.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

  • Rhywun||

    If he's not part of Reason Staff, it's odd that the post is credited to Reason Staff.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    The thumbnail summary of the column is credited to Reason Staff, not the column itself.

  • Tyler.C||

    Except on computer, the snippet mentions that chapman wrote this awful turd sandwich

  • ||

    Yup.

    Read to "There is now a bustling industry of websites and Twitter accounts whose chief product is fiction masquerading as fact." And had to stop and think, "Who's writing this crap?... Ah, welp, I'm done."

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    ...and they wonder why I didn't re-up my sub. Douche bags.

  • Rat voted NOTA||

    Well, faith in the government or the media telling the truth has definitely collapsed over the past decade.

  • ||

    Decade? You mean Dewey won?

  • GSL in E||

    Let's not forget Judith Miller's brave reporting on Iraqi WMDs for the Times.

  • Pat (PM)||

    The top two: the pope's endorsement of Trump and Clinton's selling arms to the Islamic State, neither of which contained a particle of truth.

    The latter contained more particulate matter than a mesothelioma patients lungs, except in the narrowest possible sense that Hillary Clinton herself did not exchange currency with ISIS leaders and then physically hand them weapons. State under her leadership created (willfully or not, depending on your partisan preferences) "weapons flows" to terrorist groups, including ISIS. Technically correct is the best kind, they say.

    Their success was both cause and effect of the rise of Donald Trump, who went beyond any previous major presidential candidate in saying things that were utterly baseless and easily refutable.

    Assertion without evidence. That might count as fake news if Chapman was a journalist. Truthiness isn't just for Republicans anymore.

  • The Grinch||

    The State Dept has been feeding so called
    moderates weapons who then hand them over to ISIS and this is common knowledge. If you supply groups you know are going to surrender on contact (or run away, or actually act as a conduit and hand them over) then you are supplying ISIS which was the plan all along, but "fake news" because we haven't found a receipt for said weapons in Hillary's purse. Unfuckingbelievable.

  • The Grinch||

    What a crock of absolute shit-there's always been inaccurate and downright fake news foisted on the public by the media, it's nothing new. The biggest fake story of the election cycle was the Russian hacking story which was unverified narrative feeding nonsense being advanced by the media as an absolute truth.

    Reason, you need to ditch Chapman because he is a shady, lying sack of shit who isn't even a libertarian and he murders your credibility every single time he has an article posted here. Why in the fuck do you give him a platform?

  • The Grinch||

    If they'd publish his stuff as a counterpoint or alternative viewpoint which act as kind of a disclaimer I'd have no problem with it.

  • Pat (PM)||

    The top two: the pope's endorsement of Trump and Clinton's selling arms to the Islamic State, neither of which contained a particle of truth.

    The latter contained more particulate matter than a mesothelioma patients lungs, except in the narrowest possible sense that Hillary Clinton herself did not exchange currency with ISIS leaders and then physically hand them weapons. State under her leadership created (willfully or not, depending on your partisan preferences) "weapons flows" to terrorist groups, including ISIS. Technically correct is the best kind, they say.

    Their success was both cause and effect of the rise of Donald Trump, who went beyond any previous major presidential candidate in saying things that were utterly baseless and easily refutable.

    Assertion without evidence. That might count as fake news if Chapman was a journalist. Truthiness isn't just for Republicans anymore.

  • Pat (PM)||

    More 503 errors and quadruple posts please. This website runs about as smoothly as Chapman's brain.

  • Number 2||

    "Donald Trump, who went beyond any previous major presidential candidate in saying things that were utterly baseless and easily refutable"

    As opposed to, say, his major candidate opponent who claimed that recessions are caused by low taxes. Or a recent presidential candidate who said that we could keep our health plans if we liked them and that the cost of my health insurance would drop by $2,500 -- or roughly the same amount it has increased each year since that promise was made.

    All politicians say things that are utterly baseless and easily refutable. It is what they do

  • Number 2||

    Not to beat this particular horse to death, but on the same day Chapman writes those words, Scott Shackford posted an article that opened with the following accurate observation about an allegedly conventional politician: "It looks like President Barack Obama will be leaving office the same way he arrived: overestimating his actual commitment to rule of law and government transparency." Trump is far from alone in being utterly baseless and easily refutable.

  • ||

    And who said she's going to give everyone free college and it won't cost a dime?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    As opposed to, say, his major candidate opponent who claimed that recessions are caused by low taxes.


    I don't know about you but I find that misconception of how economies work less egregious than the claim that more than half of all immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers. And despite John's tiresome complaints about "taking things out of context" and what not, I am only going by the LOGIC of what El Presidente Trumpo said. Not what he meant or wanted to say. What he actuallt said. And "some" which he argued were good people, cannot mean anythibg else than less than half, in any language.

    So I have to tell you, when it comesto the level of BS shoveled around, El Trumpo is second to none.

  • ||

    "the claim that more than half of all immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers"

    Who said that? I heard what Trump said, but did not hear the more than half part. Maybe he said that later, I don't know. But what I heard was more like 'they're not sending their best, they're murderers, rapists, they're bringing drugs, and some I presume are good people'.

    Not justifying Trump for saying something that dumb, just clarifying what he actually said, which is a lot less bad than what you claimed, unless I'm wrong and he did actually say that after.

    He also should have added 'bringing drugs that Americans want to buy'.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Hyp,

    What he said is slightly more complex than that, since he seemed to assert that various countries are sending their problematic citizens to the "dumping ground" that is the United States.

    I posted the link so that you can listen to the statements and decide for yourself.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Hyperion,

    Who said that?


    HE DID.

    "Mexico sends us people with a lot of problems. They don't send you. Or you. They are rapists, they bring drugs, they bring crime, and some I assume, are good people."

    Once he added the determinant "some" after the conjunction "and", he closed the UNIVERSE of immigrants from Mexico to include only: rapists, drug dealers, criminals, and some good people. Draw a Venn diagram and you will see; the determinant "some" cannot mean anything else than less than half, in any language.

    just clarifying what he actually said,


    And I am going by the logic of what he said. Maybe you can argue that the man has an issue with composing sentences, meaning: he's unable to speak coherently.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    No, he didn't qualify the first part of the statement with any sort of quantity. On its face,

    Mexico sends us people with a lot of problems

    is a true statement. But the vast majority of immigrants are not sent by Mexico per se, they just get out on their own to have a better life. I think you are parsing those statements too closely. Most (I s'pse I can think of some exceptions), any business person knows that the majority of the Mexican undocumented workers are a net plus for the business.

    I think immigration is an easy problem to solve. Make it easier and cheaper to get a long term (5 years?) work visa, give the current, working, undocumented population amnesty but still have to be issued the aforementioned work visa, and very little welfare to immigrants here on a work visa.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Maybe you can argue that the man has an issue with composing sentences, meaning: he's unable to speak coherently.

    I think even his supporters can agree that Trump's speaking style is hardly a model of scientific exactitude.

    By trying to apply rigid logical structure, defining the vague "some" as less than half and insisting that all his other categories must therefore be more than half is applying a logical and rhetorical rigor that is not justified.

    Normal people don't, as a rule, speak in rigorously logical constructs. Would it have appeased you if he'd said "some are rapists, some are drug dealers, some bring crime and some are good people?" Or would you then argue that the balanced use of some means no other categories are possible and that criminals make up 3/4 of Mexican immigrants?

    You're hearing what you want to hear in a way that enables you to confirm your own bias.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Once he added the determinant "some" after the conjunction "and", he closed the UNIVERSE of immigrants from Mexico to include only: rapists, drug dealers, criminals, and some good people.

    Are you an immigrant too? First month with the English language?

    Mexican immigrants. They are butchers and bakers. Some are candlestick makers.
    Does not imply
    That all immigrants from Mexico are either butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers.

  • Rasilio||

    Problem is the assumption that is a misconception is simply not supportable.

    It is not like we are talking about open questions of economic theories. Even Krugman will tell you that low taxes can't cause a recession (low spending maybe, low taxes not so much)

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Rasilio,

    Even Krugman will tell you that low taxes can't cause a recession[...]


    I don't know what Krugman would say about it but I do know even historians (well, lefty historians) claim that the Great Depression was caused because of a) too much greed and b) low taxes. So I don't take Obama's misconception as a 'lie', but I do take El Trumpo's claim that more than half of Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, something he posited in no uncertain terms.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    Stop being hysterical. Only a self serving analysis of what is frankly a very ambiguous statement would make that claim.

    I'm betting that if you asked him "Did you mean that of the 10 million or so Mexican immigrants in this country, 5 million of them are rapists and drug dealers?" The answer would be no. In fact, just rephrasing the question like that makes it very difficult for me to believe that anybody would actually seriously believe that.

  • jack sprat||

    "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! "

  • WarrenPeese||

    Facts didn't matter this election cycle. Neither did the truth. Neither did character. Had they did matter, neither Trump nor Hillary would've been nominated. Either choice will be bad for America as president.

  • John Titor||

    And here we see Steve Chapman, providing an example of both a general lack of self-awareness by accusing others of peddling falsehoods and why media trust is at an extreme low.

  • ||

    I thought he was just carrying water for WaPo.

  • MikeP2||

    They wouldn't trust him with the bucket.

  • Just Say'n||

    Fire Steve Chapman

  • The Grinch||

    Amen, or at least post his stuff as a counterpoint instead of giving it the implied endorsement of publication without caveat.

  • ||

    Is he going to come back and troll us after?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Interesing, all these recent articles mocking the fake news buzzword, and then here comes an article taking it deathly seriously.

    Working for a traditional newspaper, I wonder if Chapman just fears the crushing competition?

  • Zero Sum Game||

    I guess after all the donations, bumping Chapman posts several times to the top of H&R is the best "thanks for all the cash, fuck you!" they could think of.

  • ||

    Wait until Reason gets on the fake news list. I'm surprised they aren't already on it. It's just a matter of time.

  • ||

    ^This.

    They never believe it will happen to them until it does.

  • ||

    Here's Fake News 101 in one sentence:

    Fake news == anything the left disagrees with.

  • ||

    Which is astounding considering the witch hunts they've incidentally and actually been swept up in.

  • Flakfizer is Ballet, Jr.||

    They didn't hit their target, so I guess this is what we get for not coughing up the green.

  • The Grinch||

    Doubling down after failure seems to be the media MO nowadays. If they didn't reach their goal, articles like this one should be exhibit A as to why.

  • ||

    ^This too.

    When the drive first started how many commenters who regularly give said they were done after the flood of anti-Trump hysteria?

  • ||

    Also, what some people might not realize, is that Drudgereport is on the list. Since Drudge only links to articles on other sites, this effectively means that CNN, NYT, CBS, ABC, and NBC are all fake news sites.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Exactly.

    They have no clue what the Drudgereport actually is. Facts don't matter, rally the hate.

  • ||

    I couldn't read the whole thing. Chapman is just blathering about fake news, repeating proggie talking points. The end game is censorship of anyone that disagrees with them. They are trying to argue that sure, lies have always been around and free and open dialogue worked in the past to defeat them, but things are different now because of the internet.

    I don't know what kind of contract Reason has with its writers but they need to get rid of this guy.

  • ||

    Don't bother. I struggled through it and found it cringe worthy.

  • ||

    So Reason is going to revive WaPo's fake news hysteria? Nice.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Truth struggles when people prefer to believe the lies.


    Which explains why the completely bullshit numbers spewed by the Center For Immigration Studies are continuously cited by anti-immigrant zealots or why proggies believe the NYT when they say the economy is doing great despite lousy growth numbers or why some believe El Presidente Trumpo's lies about trade or why greenies believe hurricanes are becoming more numerous and destructive every year (a lie)....

    Yes, both sides believe their own bullshit.

  • Azathoth!!||

    "Truth is that which serves the Revolution"
    ---some (hopefully dead) commie bastard

    Far too much of what we receive as 'news' today comes from this source. They think, instead of reporting on what's happening, they have to guide us, that they know better.

    The source of 'fake news' is the mass of leftists that infest the media--and it comes mostly from the MSM.

    News must attack enemies, inspire allies, uphold the principals(and pay lip service to principles) and ALWAYS project an image of strength and victory--especially if neither is in view.

    And now their hold has started to crumble. Because they were unable to lie their way to victory this time,

    Let's not let them lie their way back to relevance.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    One of the big problems in America, and possibly the rest of the world, is that the actual news is essentially fake news. Leave alone the questions of bias, lack of factual reporting, collaboration with one party etc. Just turn on a "news channel" and look at what they're showing.

    For one, the coverage has been 90% presidential politics for almost 2 years now. Maybe they'll cover a fire or a plane crash or a terrorist attack for a few days. Other than that, it's all presidential horse race coverage. There's gotta be more "news" in the world right?

    And then with the thousands of hours spent on presidential politics, there's gotta be time for detailed policy discussions, right? Not a chance. It's barely any different than TMZ, but instead of Hollywood, it's Washington. Go into the break room at work - it's what naughty thing did he/she say? What are the optics (did he she look cool or like a loser?) This is CNN. This is the Sunday shows. The content isn't much different than high school kids gossiping about each other - it's just that the subjects are presidential candidates.

    With this level of discourse, how can we have "informed" voters? Somebody could spend 4 hours a day watching the news and still know nothing.

  • ||

    If I were going to accuse any news site, I mean most are just opinion and everyone should know that... But CNN who reports 'unbiased' news, lolololol, probably spread more misinformation than any other site, or maybe to be fair I should say it has so much spin on it, that it is unrecognizable as real news.

  • The Grinch||

    They're all "fake" to some degree and the fact that alternative news sources are being singled out when the old media is sinking into insolvency and irrelevance tells anyone with a brain all they need to know.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    Yeah, it happens all the time - I'll see some "news" on CNN which seems kind of fishy and 100% supports their narrative and I'll think "that doesn't seem quite right." Then I have to go to some internet place like the Reason comments to see what actually happened.

    Great example was the Flint water disaster. Somehow CNN made that all about national politicians somehow. Then in the Reason comments there were a few people who actually knew about the issue - the local politics and the science - who explained it in great detail. It was actually really interesting.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    It seems some people just don't know the difference between news, and opinion editorials. 24 hour news channels are loaded with the latter.

  • kbolino||

    A distinction without much of a difference. The selection of stories, how those stories get reported, and even the sources for those stories (Twitter, really?) increasingly reflect the bias of the reporters (and I don't just mean political bias, oftentimes sheer laziness and emotional pique rule the day).

  • kbolino||

    CNN: We read Twitter feeds so you don't have to

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is the best thing I've read in months:

    "If it is important to comprehend a president's mind and intentions, it will be pointless if the media does nothing more the next four years than consider its job done if it microscopically fact-checks and flyspecks everything Donald Trump tweets."

    Daniel Henninger, WSJ

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/tr.....1481154430

    Donald Trump treats the Alt-left (AKA the MSM) like a dog that wants to play fetch.

    And while the MSM goes chasing his tweets down, Trump is actually connecting wit the people in this country who go to the polls in swing states. Yeah, Trump is a fox in the hen house, and the guard do is just begging to be distracted by the fox's next tweet.

    "Donald Trump treats the truth as only one of several props he's willing to use to achieve an effect. Truth sits on his workbench alongside hyperbole, sentimentality, bluster and just kidding. Use as needed."

    ----Ibidem

    I've never seen someone manipulate the press so easily--it's scary. Trump makes Reagan look like an amateur.

    When the big story happens, and the press should have been there to tell us what was going on, I have little doubt but that they'll be off chasing down some obnoxious tweet instead. It'll be about how, "Flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship, LOL" or something else that doesn't have anything to do with what's really going on.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    For most of the campaign I thought that Trump was mostly dumb. He did a few instinctive semi-smart things like capitalize on the anti-immigration market inefficiency between Repub pols and voters. Mostly he came off as a simpleton who was getting lucky in a variety of ways. That flag-burning tweet opened my eyes a bit - it does seem intentional and it seems to have exact effect he desired. Now I'm a little curious about what's actually behind the curtain.

  • ||

    When the big story happens, and the press should have been there to tell us what was going on, I have little doubt but that they'll be off chasing down some obnoxious tweet instead.

    I'm very much there. I'd say it's already the case and probably has been for the last 1, maybe 2 presidencies. I don't think it's Trump who'll be the one maniacal enough or grow an ego big enough to annex Cuba or whatever. I'm fairly certain that, when whatever leader does, the media will be covering what he/she's eating for breakfast and digging up racy photos of their spouse.

  • ||

    All news anymore has a lot of spin on it. Everyone does it. That doesn't necessarily make it fake news. This fake news bullshit is just another buzzword made up by the left to keep their useful idiots dancing the useful idiot dance. The fact that Reason is now running with this bullshit is beyond sad. This is a new low.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Incidentally, if there's an Alt-right, then shouldn't there must be an Alt-left, too?

    Partisans often strive to become the caricatures their opponents make them out to be.

    If the Alt-right is a bunch of trolls at Breitbart, I'd guess the Alt-left emerges from the trolls at Salon.

    If one group is typified by being extremely anti-PC, it might follow that the other is extremely pro-PC.

  • ||

    The left in America have went so far left that there is no need for any divisions in their hordes. And they've made it very clear that their solution to their current woes will be going further left and doubling down on identity politics. So the left have no need for a branch that's extreme left, all of them are. They're one big happy Castro luvin family.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Once the Alt-left is defined to everyone's understanding, we'll hear a lot less about the Alt-right.

  • ||

    Reminds me of an article I was reading earlier this morning about college campus snowflakes falling apart after the election. Apparently some conservative students starting asking for safe spaces because they feel unsafe. Some of the leftist students started freaking out because safe spaces are only for them! It was hilarious that they didn't even realize they were being trolled.

  • John Titor||

    "Alt-left" is a term I've been appearing on some liberal sites nowadays. It's used to describe social justice types by 'regular' liberals.

  • Number.6||

    Well, I think that's because of reporting - if you were constantly told that the "Alt-Right" were a bunch of aggressive, riotous neanderthals whose views are beyond the pale, it would make sense to call your team's nutjobs by a similar name.

    I'm happy to see this happening, of course. It's further evidence that the left is othering itself and rejecting intersectionality. Expect to see them consigning each other to re-education camps soon.

  • Adans smith||

    The 'media' have spread false stories about drugs fracking,'green energy' the ability to end use of all fossil fuels and tax cuts cause deficits. To name a few.Then there was the child sex rings in the news in the 80's.Seems they were in the forefront of fake news.

  • Adans smith||

    Di I mention all theses stories were trumpeted by people in some form of government ?

  • ||

    Yeah, think of all the stuff you hear or heard described as 'Old Wives' Tales' and remember that for lots and lots of American history the majority of men didn't give two shits about what their wives said over the fence but would treat things they read in the paper like gospel.

    I mean, The Enquirer has been around forever and people have been publishing various shades of truthiness for decades.

  • MikeP2||

    Remember "JournoList"? The site where media's talking heads and the DNC all coordinated talking points?

    Notice how we get these media memes circulated that become the subject of dozens of articles and pearl clutching reports, then eventually get replaced by a new one in a few months?
    Remember the Occupy movement that was over reported to pave the way for increased taxes on the wealthy? That fortunately got stymied in congress.
    Remember the "war on women" two years ago that was the battle-space preparation for Hillary?
    Remember BLM that was excessively reported, encouraging riots and violence, to drive minority activism prior to the election.
    So...now we have "fake news". What is the end result....are the really going to try to censor the new media? A little concerning that this is following on the heels of the US giving up control of the internet.

  • MikeP2||

    We are being fed a steady stream of propaganda and Chapman is obviously included in the new version of "JournoList". So...what's the endgame Steve? Or do they not tell you that?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: MikeP2

    I worry less about a group of inmature journalists pretending they can shape opinion by printing obvious falsehoods few people believe, than a president, who is a known liar, saying ot tweeting obvious falsehoods that most people believe despite the fact they are obvious falsehoods. Those journalists a nobody. El Presidente El Trumpo is the president of the United States.

  • MikeP2||

    And thus you show your partisan blinders. Are you really claiming Trump lies any more than prior presidents "read my lips, no new taxes", "I did not have sex with that woman", "you can keep your plan", etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
    Do we need to discuss the perpetual lying that defined Hillary Clinton?

    Don't be a partisan fool.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    If you want to know what a candidate won't do, listen to what they say they will do during the campaign.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: MikeP2,

    And thus you show your partisan blinders.


    I'm a libertarian, so OF COURSE I am going to be partisan - for liberty.

    Are you really claiming Trump lies any more than prior presidents


    Yes. How about that?

    Do we need to discuss the perpetual lying that defined Hillary Clinton?


    Do we really have to discuss whose lies were bigger? HillRod lied to save her hide. El Señor Presidente El Trumpo lies because he is a mythomaniac.

  • ||

    HillRod lied to save her hide.

    WTHF? She didn't lie about taking sniper fire to save anyone's hide.

    I was willing to draw equivocations between Trump is the biggest liar and Trump is the biggest liar until we elect the next biggest liar, but this is absurd.

    *The* reason Hillary didn't get elected is because she's even her (party's) supporters were saying she's such a bad liar/politician she couldn't beat Trump.

  • bacon-magic||

    OldMex,
    You've lost your way sir. Lies are everywhere. Your responses do not support your claim of (L)ibertarianism.

  • dchang0||

    mad.casual is correct by saying WTF?

    Hillary is a pathological liar, full stop.

    She has a severe case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic-Aggressive subtype. (See NPA theory).

    Trump has a severe case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic subtype (less aggression = more likable; Hillary's aggressiveness is pretty infamous amongst the Secret Service).

    One of the hallmarks of NPDs is that they lie, lie, lie, and lie some more. It is a consequence of their lacking empathy, which would allow them to see and recognize emotional responses in others when they are being lied to and respond negatively. The lack of this acuity means that NPDs don't develop the feedback loops necessary to control/limit lying behavior as they grow up, and so they keep lying further past normal boundaries than typical people do (until there is obvious pushback against their lies).

    Worse, an NPD's hallmark senses of entitlement and grandiosity give them the attitude that others should still accept their lies even if they recognize they are being lied to. After all, the NPD knows more or better than they do about the world and some grand solution.

  • Azathoth!!||

    than a president, who is a known liar, saying ot tweeting obvious falsehoods that most people believe despite the fact they are obvious falsehoods.

    It's okay, OM, Obama will be gone soon.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Of the 20 most read phony election-related stories circulated on Facebook during the campaign, 17 made him look good or Hillary Clinton look bad.


    To be fair, there were plenty of fake stories about El Trumpo or at least exaggeratuons about the people who supported him. For instance, my little sister threatened to defriend me from her Facebook because of a fake news story about El Trumpo and white supremacists because I pointed out to her that the fact that some idiot says he supports El Trumpo is not an argument to characterize him as a white supremacist.

    However, it can be argued and proven that El Trumpo himself promoted fake news stories meant to discredit his opponents and is the master of BS. I have to agree with Chapman on this one. The moment he said that more than half of all immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers and that trade with China is like being "raped", it was clear to me this guy had to be either insane or a fucking liar.

  • John||

    However, it can be argued and proven that El Trumpo himself promoted fake news stories meant to discredit his opponents and is the master of B

    Okay, if it can be argued and proved, do so. Don't just assure us it really can.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: John,

    Did you forget that totally bogus story about the father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz being part of the conspiracy to kill presidentpresident Kennedy, John?

  • John||

    And that was totally rebutted within 24 hours.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: John,

    And that was totally rebutted within 24 hours


    Ok, is that supposed to be the counterargument? Wasn't it promoted by El Presidente El Trumpo? Wasn't it a lie? If you CONCEDE it existed, then concede I presented you with evidence of El Trumpo's promotion of fake stories with the purpose of undermining his opponents (I never said "HillRod").

  • John||

    The counter argument is no one believed it and it had no effect. Trump himself walked back on it.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: John,

    The counter argument is no one believed it and it had no effect.


    So what, John? You asked for evidence. There it is. Now, like Tony, you merely poo-poo it as "irrelevant". By whose standards? You're being disingenuous.

  • Azathoth!!||

    The one that was in some tabloid? A tabloid that's at every grocery checkout in the country?

    and you think Trump pushed that story?

  • R C Dean||

    The moment he said that more than half of all immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers

    Of course, he never said that.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: R C Dean,

    Of course, he never said that.


    YES, HE DID SAY THAT - in no uncertain terms.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Citation please. I've heard and read that quote many times and at no time does he say or imply "more than half."

  • Charles Easterly||

    Dean,

    Here is a link to Trump's statements. As I wrote to Hyp above, he was talking about various nations sending their less savory citizens to the United States ("The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems").

    You can decide for yourself what proportions of immigrants he claims are problematic.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Most of late-night has sprung from fake news shows on Comedy Central or fake news skits on Saturday Night Live, and is overtly lefty. And just like Fox News on MSM side, lefties cry foul when the wingnuts figure the game out and start playing their own.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Fight back, *in kind*.

    Some of the Right are catching on. When people shoot at you, you have the choice of shooting back, being shot, or surrendering. They plan on shooting back. Very dangerous. And potentially very, very nasty.

    The Left has been selling identity politics of all against the evil White Man to their rainbow coalition.
    You think NeoNazis are a problem? Wait til some enterprising lads start exploiting animosities within the antiwhite rainbow coalition.
    Fight back, in kind.

    Better get off this train at nationalist populism, because the next stop is a real rough neighborhood.

  • John||

    Conventional politicians shade and embellish the truth, but within established bounds. They have enough respect for voters to ration their deceptions.

    Okay, Chapman is now a comedy act. I think it is a good fit for him. I thought satire was dead in 2016. It took Chapman to show me otherwise.

  • ||

    What? Like with a cloth?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Not even a smidgen of corruption!

    The cupboard is bare! Their is nothing left to cut!

  • ||

    My favorite anti-fake news citation by the Left is the Pope. A man who believes news of miracles were worked at Mother Teresa's grave critiques the world on fake news.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "Fake news" sources exploit the same cynical strategy, confident that many readers will seek out anything that confirms their prejudices and reject anything that doesn't.

    But only "fake news," right? "Real news" would never do that...

    Chapman has no self awareness at all. I'm not even sure he could pass a Turing test.

  • The Grinch||

    Do computers consciously lie their synthetic asses off?

  • ||

    When the computers achieve sentience, we'll find out. If they take like right wingers, then yes, they lie and are probably being hacked by Putin and the KGB.

  • ||

    And until then, we'll continue to operate on one of the most historic and basic premises of computing; shovel any amount of absolute bullshit into them and only the truth will come out.

  • eyeroller||

    The National Enquirer has been in every grocery store checkout lane for decades, and somehow we've survived.

  • ||

    But that's not like the intertoobz! The intertoobz are magical and makes you look at them whether you want to or not! It's almost like guns! We have to ban the intertoobz!

  • The Grinch||

    What's with all this ban shit? They just want to protect the public, innocent lambs and drooling mouth-breathers all, from being manipulated by lies.

    If you don't care about them then, I don't know, think of the children (does that work for you?) .

  • MikeP2||

    Wait...I thought the National Enquirer had the best investigative journalists in the country. Or was that a movie? I can't tell anymore....something about John Edward's affair and aliens in MIB.

  • John||

    The John Edwards affair, the LA mayor who was banging the newsbabe, Monica Lewinsky also come to mind.

    The Enquirer has lost exactly one liable suit and been proven maliciously false in its entire existence. The MSM meanwhile has been plagued by lies, slander and fake news stories for decades. The same people who happily ruined Richard Jewel's life now claim to worry about "fake news".

    Journalists are scum and not just regular scum but the worst scum there is.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I don't know what you guys mean by fake news. I get my news from Comedy Central.

  • Number.6||

    Sounds legit.

  • R C Dean||

    What made Trump different was his conviction that most people are happy to be fed nonsense as long as it is palatable.

    Oh, please. It has been universally accepted for decades, if not millenia, that telling people what they want to hear is the shortcut to getting them to follow you.

  • kbolino||

    "Hope and Change"

  • Bra Ket||

    "He lied without reservation or limit, about topics big and small, and he got away with it."

    The central defining legislation of Obama's presidency is the so-called "affordable care act", a welfare program that directly and provably drives up the price of healthcare. Let's all recall how tough the media was on him about that...

    This "yeah but the-other-team's-candidate is different" shit gets used against every single president. Just makes you look short-sighted and biased.

  • John||

    The shrillness of the propaganda debate reveals a deep distrust of citizens by the elites. The Ignatiuses and Stengels of media and government don't worry about propaganda infecting them. Proud of their breeding and life experience, they seem confident they can decode fact from fiction. What they dread is propaganda's effect on the non-elites, whom they paternalistically imagine believe everything they read or view. But they don't. The idea that naïve and vulnerable audiences can be easily influenced by the injection of tiny but potent messages into their media feedbag was dismissed as bunk by social scientists as early as the 1930s and 1940s. According to what academics call the hypodermic needle theory (aka magic bullet theory, aka transmission-belt model), there is little evidence that the public was the defenseless prey of mini-doses of propagandists. Larger doses don't seem to be very effective, either.\

    From that right wing rag Politico. Always remember, Chapman is a moron who will believe anything his prog friends tell him.

  • Ron||

    Is Trump the first presidential candidate to Lie?

  • GSL in E||

    One problem with this (which I've seen mentioned on other threads) is that the hand-wringing over "fake news" presumes that there's been an interval of time within the modern era where leading media outlets weren't major sources of fake news. This is an assertion without much evidence.

    The other big problem is that there's nothing very new about fake news. Starting with the Fox-ification of major cable news (followed by MSNBC and other left-leaning analogs of Fox), the media have known for a long time that going for the emotions of their readers via opinion segments/articles and opinionated takes on current events is much easier and more profitable than real journalism. This election just made it really obvious.

    The implications for "informed citizenry" are terrible, but any sensible person really needs to view the MSM as an entertainment product, not an information product. They don't really have a different goal, or a different business model, from People Magazine, and they should be given the same degree of serious attention. If you really want to understand what's going on in the world, you have 2 basic options: 1) be extremely skeptical of the news, and take care to verify everything you're told, 2) limit your news intake to the point where you miss out on the noise and still pick up most of the signal (I read 1 issue of the Economist a month, and not much more, for example).

  • ||

    One problem with this (which I've seen mentioned on other threads) is that the hand-wringing over "fake news" presumes that there's been an interval of time within the modern era where leading media outlets weren't major sources of fake news. This is an assertion without much evidence.

    It also speaks towards a zealous interpretation of a metaphysical truth. That knowing the truth and disbelieving the lie is paramount above all other arrangements. They certainly aren't at or getting near a 'convert by the sword' movement by any means, but there's certainly an element of belief about truths that should've come to pass and/or that heathens don't see or can't know.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Of the 20 most read phony election-related stories circulated on Facebook during the campaign, 17 made him look good or Hillary Clinton look bad.

    What about the several thousand fake news stories that said Trump didn't have a chance of winning?

    The ones that made false charges of racism?

    The ones that broadcast unproven misconduct allegations that miraculously surfaced a month before the election and disappeared the day after?

    I'm pretty sure where ever Chapman got his data on the "20 most read phony election-related stories circulated on Facebook during the campaign" is fake news itself.

  • Jimbo||

    You can't spell Triumph without Trump!

  • buybuydandavis||

    Not tired of winning yet!

  • buybuydandavis||

    An article about political lies.

    Never mentions Hillary's lies.

    Dishonest hack.

  • macsnafu||

    Hmm...this article must be true, because I find it disturbing and uncomfortable? ;-)

    Nah, but it's certainly well worth thinking about.

  • Widhalm19||

    This essay is too precious. The civilized social order (city-dwelling) is constructed with the planks of illusion and nailed together with the spikes of falsehood. The majority of people will always .... ALWAYS believe sweet lies before stark truths. There's nothing here to see .... move along .... move along.

  • JaneSmith76||

    The article is very interesting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. fnaf

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