On November 17, 2016 Tucker Carlson of FOX News hilariously commented, "In the past 24 hours, many on the left have stepped up demands that companies -- like Facebook, Google and Twitter, the companies through which almost all of your news flows, -- censor so called "fake news", that is, stories that some believe helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. Such politically counterproductive writings should not be allowed, they argue, a point Chinese authorities have been making for many years."
Later in the segment, after showing Obama in Germany agreeing with those expressing concerns about fake news , Tucker commented, "But to get a lecture from a guy (Obama) who told me, right to the TV screen, that, no, the government did not read my emails, had no capacity to read my emails - ok, that was a lie - that the IRS was not actually punishing its enemies - lie - I mean, I could go on and on and on. For a politician who lies, because they all do, to lecture me about fake news, is just too much. No?"
And then contributor to "The Hill", Kristin Tate, reported to the FOX audience that a "blacklist" was being circulated by "New York Magazine" and other "mainstream" news outlets that listed Breitbart and Michele Malkin as "fake news sites", and she concluded that "we wouldn't not be having this discussion" if Hillary won the election.
Fake news controversy
The "fake news" controversy has risen to a level that NPR reported November 17, 2016 that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is trying to develop a complex, and according to NPR, contradictory set of rules to counter "fake news." The story is here:
But who's to determine what is "news" and what is "fake news", and what media outlets are to be labeled "real news" operations, and which are to be labeled "fake news"? All the major media, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc., etc. etc. spread the "weapons of mass destruction" stories in 2003 during the countdown to the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.
This writer personally remembers this period well. All the "mainstream media" were cheerleading - CHEERLEADING -- the imminent invasion of Iraq with nary a word of journalistic scrutiny. The Iraq War, now being questioned or repudiated by many who fully supported the 2003 invasion, has resulted in a chain of events that caused the deaths of (conservatively) over a million people, primarily civilians who surely had nothing to do with the "weapons of mass destruction" that were never found. Should ABC, CBS, the New York Times, etc. be listed as "fake news" websites?
Since NYT reporter Judith Miller now admits that she was a conduit for a key and blatantly false story about the existence of the "weapons of mass destruction" right before the invasion of Iraq, should her columns and TV appearances be proceeded by warnings about fake news? Just asking.
Obama's 20,000 bombs on Syria alone
Barack Obama has dropped over 20,000 bombs on Syria since 2015 based on the story pedaled by all the mainstream media outlets that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has used nerve gas on his own people. "We're expending munitions faster than we can replenish them," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh as quoted by USA Today in December 2015.
But Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says that all these mainstream media reports were false. In two articles which appeared in the London Review of Books ("Whose Sarin?" and "The Red Line and the Rat Line"), Hersh reported that the Obama Administration falsely blamed Assad for the sarin gas attack so that Obama could justify the bombing of as a prelude to overthrowing the Assad regime. Hersh referenced a British intelligence report that the sarin didn't come from Assad's stockpiles. Hersh also reported on a secret agreement in 2012 between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to perpetrate a sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians and blame it on Assad.
So who gets the "false news" label in this controversy? Should it be all the mainstream media Big Outlets again? Or should it be the renowned journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh?
National Review's David French detailed Al Gore's false prediction in and article entitled "Apocalypse Delayed" in January 2016. Gore had stated in 2006, when promoting his Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth", Gore had stated that earth would reach the point of no return in ten years, i.e., January 2016, now passed. "The Inconvenient Truth" was shown to school children all across the USA, frightening many of them out of their wits. Should Al Gore's appearances and writings be labeled as "fake news"? Should a warning about "fake news" be flashed on the screen before the 2017 Academy Awards begin???
Like Tucker Carlson, this writer could go on and on.
And there is a more subtle problem at work over the last decades since the dawn of the radio and television age. In his classic work "The Lord of the Rings", J.R.R. Tolkein included in his fantasy legendarium the Palantir, a kind of crystal ball that allowed people to see remote places and events. After the evil lord, Sauron, captured the palantír of Minas Ithil, he would show those who he was fighting true scenes, but encourage them to draw wrong conclusions.
The 5 Big TV Networks in the USA do this all the time.
For instance, in the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign, four candidates qualified on enough state ballots (Johnson 50 states; Stein 44 states) to theoretically win the Presidency, namely, Donald Trump of the Republican Party, Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and Jill Stein of the Green Party. The 5 Big TV networks carried three debates which excluded Johnson and Stein.
What was the justification of this? Didn't Americans have the right to know that FOUR Presidential candidates who were on enough ballots to win? Many felt that the charismatic Jill Stein would have won over about half of the lackluster Hillary's supporters after the first Presidential Debate, if she had been included. ABC, CNN, FOX et al showed Americans the truth that the two major party candidates were vying for the nation's top office, but in so doing encouraged them to draw the false conclusion that Trump and Hillary were the only Presidential candidates that had a chance to win.
All the mainstream media have contended for 53 years that President John F. Kennedy was assassinate by a lone nut, Lee Harvey Oswald, and when covering the historical event show true footage of Oswald arrested in the Dallas Police station right after the event, thus encouraging viewers to draw the conclusion that Oswald was the lone shooter, a conclusion which dozens of impressive researchers insist is false, including Mark Lane ("Rush to Judgement", 1964) and Jim Marrs ("Crossfire: The Plot that Killed JFK", 1993 - a source for Oliver Stone's epic movie, "JFK).
Should websites about the "JFK conspiracy" books be labelled "fake news" sites, or, again, all the Major media websites?
Regarding the 9-11-2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City, when recalling the events, all the major TV networks in the USA show the footage of planes hitting the two buildings, while encouraging viewers to draw the conclusion these planes alone caused the two gigantic structures to collapse from impact and fire.
On the other hand, the Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth, founded by San Francisco Bay architect Richard Gage in 2006, and now composed of 2718 architects and engineers, state that the official story of the collapse of the Twin Towers is impossible in light of the laws of physics.
Which of these contenders about what really happened with regard to the World Trade Towers as a result of the terror attacks 9-11-2001 should be branded with the label "fake news"?
"There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches." - Ray Bradbury, author of the novel "Fahrenheit 451".
"Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice." - Henry Louis Gates Jr., literary critic, historian and filmmaker
"When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say." - George R.R. Martin, novelist, screen writer, and television producer.
Personally, this writer is going with the First Amendment to the US Constitution, even in the "wild west" of this cyber age: "Congress Shall Make No Law . . . Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press . . ."
Do we really want the "teenage billionaires" at places like Google, Facebook, and Twitter deciding for us what is "fake news" and what is not?
George Orwell said: "Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." Let's fight to live in that world for those who are straining to get various truths out to their fellow men, while even co-existing with those who abuse their freedom of speech and even deliberately publish fake news, rather than begin descending towards the cruel and stilted world described in Orwell's novel, "1984."
Nancy O'Brien Simpson
Ms. Simpson was a radio personality in New York. She was a staff writer for The Liberty Report. A PBS documentary was done on her activism for human rights. She is a psychotherapist and political commentator.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated