We’ve all heard about “fake news” this year. It’s typically a left-right issue, one side accusing the other of inventing stories whole or slanting the reporting to present a particular point of view in a better light.
As a former newspaper journalist, I don’t believe that many totally falsified stories make national news. Typically, they are easy to spot and published either in personal rants online — “Trump a Paid Agent of Russia!” — or in tabloid publications like the National Enquirer — “Elvis Alive and Well, Living in Penthouse on Mars!” Typically, but not always.
Sometimes fake news is difficult to spot, especially when it is offered by traditional media. NBC News, for example, reported that “Trump cites non-existent Sweden attack.” In fact, he never actually claimed there was a terrorist attack in Sweden, though there have been. My President simply related that Sweden has problems because their pathetically pacifist liberal [my personal rant] government has recently taken in an outlandish number of Muslim immigrants. Sweden is a 95% Protestant Christian nation … now with a 5% Muslim minority. (A few days after Trump’s prophetic Tweet, Muslim riots were extraordinarily disruptive and destructive in Sweden.)
Even in our current political environment, most reporters want to “get it right,” but they work for organizations that are financially struggling (hence “if it bleeds, it leads” — sensationalism sells) and are employed by owners who have definite political agendas, most often left-of-center, and who make large politically correct financial donations.
When I read or listen to news reports now, what I most realize is that the choice of words is carefully orchestrated not to offend or lie outright, but to veer slightly to the left. A good example is calling criminals “dreamers.” The continuous drip of this egregious term has a cumulative and corrosive effect.
We must make a distinction between opinion pieces — sometimes called “op-ed,” an opinion presented as an editorial which thus represents an institution — and so-called hard news. Everyone has an opinion and most people readily express theirs (though the older I get the more I realize it’s usually smarter to keep my opinion to myself).
So here’s an example of a fake news item I recently received from Breitbart News, headlined “Special Message: Forget Guns … Carry This Instead.” The email was seductively addressed as “Dear Patriot:”
How would you like to be a tester for my new ultra-bright tactical flashlight? It’s free (just pay S&H)…
This thing is AMAZING … and I guarantee you won’t find a better deal anywhere. (Does it get any better than FREE?) Grab yours before they’re gone.
There’s just one catch … This is a limited run and I only have a couple dozen units for my hand-picked testers (that’s YOU).
I know you probably have a favorite flashlight already, one that you have at the ready in case of an emergency or self-defense situation. But this TTB500 Tactical is FREE to my testers, so why not!?
All you have to do to get started is click the link below and you’ll have it shipped out to you in no time.
An Internet link in the above email took me to MyCrisisGear.com and the flashlight cost $6.95 for “shipping and handling.” A photo at that site shows a woman’s hand hitting a grimacing assailant in the forehead with the light.
I’m thinking the light may be worth $6.95, but remember caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Does anyone in their right mind really believe that a light powered by one AA battery could or should cause you to “Forget Guns”?
Fake news or just an example of advertising in America? Certainly a fake news headline, a misleading headline … and from our friends at Breitbart News.
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