Archive for Sunday, February 25, 2018

Opinion: When truth is regarded as ‘fake’

February 25, 2018

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This is a column about 42 percent of Republicans.

It is also a column about trust.

A few days ago in Miami, the Knight Foundation, a philanthropic institution, convened a conference of journalists, tech persons, business persons and others to consider the state and future of journalism. Central to the gathering was a study conducted by Gallup and Knight measuring American attitudes toward news media.

As medicine, it was castor oil.

Among its findings: More Americans (43 percent) have a negative view of media than have a positive view (33 percent); 66 percent say media do a poor job of separating fact from opinion; 58 percent say it is harder to be well informed today because there are so many news sources available; asked to score news media on a zero-to-100 scale with 100 representing maximum trust, Americans gave news media an anemic 37.

But there was one finding that leapt out at me: Four out of 10 Republicans said they always regard as “fake news” accurate news stories that cast a favored politician or group in a negative light. Let that marinate for a moment. They concede it to be true, but they regard it as “fake” if they don’t like what it says.

As it happens, this conference unfolded in a state and nation still reeling from our most recent gun massacre: 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Students who survived this latest mass casualty event have emerged as angry and forceful advocates for gun sense to replace the nonsense of current laws that allowed a disaffected 19-year-old to get his hands on an AR-15 rifle and mow people down at random.

With their unquestionable moral authority, these kids gave some of us the sense they might just be able to move the needle on gun-control legislation. Conservatives must have felt the same way. Which is why some of them began claiming the butchery never happened. These kids, they said, are so-called “crisis actors,” trained to simulate tragedy in order to embarrass the NRA and embolden gun-control activists.

It is an absurd and offensive theory. We’ve heard it before, though — heard it after Sandy Hook, heard it after Las Vegas. Why wouldn’t we hear it, if 42 percent of Republicans — notwithstanding that it is crazy — are ready to believe it?

I am willing, even eager, to have the discussion about what news media must do to earn back the public’s trust. Let’s talk about ways to keep cultural, class, racial and political biases out of our reportage. Let’s figure out how to protect ourselves from attack by trolls. Let’s consider strategies to more effectively wall off opinion from hard news. Let’s ask if we need so much opinion to begin with.

But let’s also talk about what’s going on with 42 percent of Republicans. Because clearly, 42 percent of Republicans are out of their damn minds. For the record, 17 percent of Democrats are, too.

And 100 percent of everybody else should recognize this as a clear and present danger. It is bad enough that malevolent online hoaxers make it difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction, but when you no longer care about discerning that difference, when truth matters less to you than protecting your political turf, you are a virus in the body politic of a democratic nation. You are an infection that threatens the ability of free people to understand their world and make competent decisions about it.

So let me be real clear here. As a journalist — as an American — I am not interested in earning those people’s trust.

Frankly, they should be asking what they must do to earn mine.

— Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.

Comments

Dale Miller 1 month, 3 weeks ago

........ But there was one finding that leapt out at me: Four out of 10 Republicans said they always regard as “fake news” accurate news stories that cast a favored politician or group in a negative light. Let that marinate for a moment. They concede it to be true, but they regard it as “fake” if they don’t like what it says........

I don't need to go any further with this guy's BS. Leonard Pitts, Jr. is THE POSTER CHILD of "FAKE NEWS"!

Steve Hicks 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Date, Pitts reports what the study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup polling says. Do you call Pitts "THE POSTER CHILD of 'FAKE NEWS'!" because he reports falsely what their study says ?

If Pitts reports accurately what the study says, his statement is truthful, isn't it ? How do you call a truthful statement "FAKE NEWS" ?

Or did you read the study, and determine that Pitts lies about what the study actually says ? If so, I'm sure you'll want to give examples from the report that show Pitts lies about what he claims it says ?

Or did you read the study, and find Pitts reports accurately what it says...but the study lies ? In that case, surely you find the study...not Pitts...is "FAKE NEWS" ? That the messenger was truthful, but those who wrote the message weren't ? Again, you probably have some examples from the study to quote in support of your contention it lies.

If it's none of those real ways people determine the truth, it looks like your shouting "FAKE NEWS" is a good illustration of the truth the study reports, and Pitts reports: that a large demographic of one political faction "... always regard as 'fake news' accurate news stories that cast a favored politician or group in a negative light."

To quote a tweet by the "FAKE NEWS" faction's great ventriloquist..."SAD !!"

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

How many times in the past week have you seen the fake news about the number of school shootings in 2018 being repeated by liars and/or fools? https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/16/parkland-school-shooting-no-there-have-not-been-18-school-shootings-already-year-column/343100002/

Calvin Anders 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The problem is complicated here. Some "news outlets" are little more than a platform to promote a specific political agenda. Many news outlets are making some effort to present news, but have fallen into lazy habits like throwing together talking points from opposing sides of a story and not bothering to investigate much further. Many news outlets are steered toward or away from stories by corporate owners because the reporting may impact their bottom line. Now we have a Presidential administration and foreign powers who are exploiting the shortcoming, inconsistencies and bias in much of the media to paint any message they don't like as fabrication. And then to make up their own false narrative to claim as the "truth". It is difficult to defend the media from attacks by politicians when the media as a whole seems largely disinterested in investing the effort to cultivate a reputation for object methods and thoroughly researched reporting.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"... Some "news outlets" are little more than a platform to promote a specific political agenda..." CNN comes to mind.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Found this comparison of FOX, MSNBC and CNN. You might find this interesting. While no one outlet always tells the truth, the breakdown for Mostly False, False and Pants-on-Fire Percentages are as follows: FOX 61%, MSNBC 44% and CNN 21%. Read the entire article here: http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2015/jan/27/msnbc-fox-cnn-move-needle-our-truth-o-meter-scorec/

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Your golden idol has feet of clay. "...Fast forward to 2018, and PolitiFact published a fact check of a Trump statement about protests over the United Kingdom's National Health Service, its universal care program. PolitiFact treated Trump unfairly by rating him on something he did not say, but what really knocked our socks off was a sentence PolitiFact reeled off in its summary: While the NHS has lost funding over the years, the march that took place was not in opposition to the service, but a call to increase funding and stop austerity cuts towards health and social care. The problem? You guessed it! Spending has gone up for the NHS pretty consistently. The fact checkers at Britain's Full Fact even did a fact check in January 2018 relating to NHS funding. It only reported spending going up. Spending on the NHS in England has increased in real terms by an average of around 1% a year since 2010. Since the NHS was established spending increases have averaged 4% per year. So the NHS hasn't "lost funding" except against baseline future spending. The austerity "cuts" PolitiFact reports are a decrease of the rate of future spending. PolitiFact is making a claim it has rated "Half True" and worse in the past. We don't appreciate that type of hypocrisy from a supposedly non-partisan and objective fact checker. So we went to work on meme..." http://www.politifactbias.com

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Fast forward to 2018 and Fox News still shows a rating of 60% for statements rated Mostly False, False and Pants-on -Fire. If I had included Half True we would be up to 78%. Tha means FOX rates True and Mostly True only 22% of the time. .http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/tv/fox/ Your attempt to discredit Politifact because of one instance would be like me finding one instance where Donald Trump actually told the truth and insisting this means we should disregard all of his verifiable lies. It just doesn't work that way.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So Bob, everything reported by anyone or any outlet that is not painting Trump or the GOP in a Good Light is Biased? Do you realize how paranoid that sounds? Well, at least this keeps the Conspiracy Theorists out of the unemployment line. By the way, you are pointing out only one particular instance to try and refute years of Fact checking thousands of other statements. One instance that fits your narrative does not negate all of the previous months and even years of Statistics. Sorry. Not buying it.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"..So Bob, everything reported by anyone or any outlet that is not painting Trump or the GOP in a Good Light is Biased?..." I didn't say that. You're getting as bad as Dorothy when it comes to putting your words in someone else's mouth.

Kendall Simmons 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You were asked a question, Bob. There was NO claim that you ever said it. You were simply asked if that's what you thought.

Seems that the person putting words in someone else's mouth is you here.

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Speaking of "fake news"

Bernie Sanders bashed for spreading ‘false story’ while deflecting blame for being ‘Kremlin-backed’

Bernie Sanders, who was attacked for the alleged support his campaign received from “Kremlin trolls,” is now accused of supporting a false story about how his campaign worked with that of Hillary Clinton against those trolls. The Mueller investigation’s indictment of 13 Russians, who are accused of using false identities and failing to register as foreign agents while running a clickbait operation in the US, mentions that part of their efforts were aimed at drumming up support for Sanders. Consequently, the Vermont senator found himself on the defensive, as the US media questioned how much his campaign for the Democrat nomination benefited from the alleged “Russian trolls” and whether he was aware of that help.

Last week, Sanders released a lengthy statement condemning alleged Kremlin meddling in the US election and expressing support for his rival Hillary Clinton, who “had to run against not only Donald Trump, but also the Russian government.”

http://digital.vpr.net/post/sen-bernie-sanders-gun-control-russian-meddling-and-congressional-dysfunction#stream/0

Bernie blames Hillary for allowing Russian interference

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller's assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders' campaign.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/21/bernie-sanders-trump-russia-interference-420528

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