The internet is alive— you might say crawling—with websites consumed with churning out fake news and misinformation. It is amazing how many of these sites there are. Then there are the bloggers who get much of this stuff started— even to the point of being legitimized on Facebook and other social media until it is spotted as fictitious, or highly distorted, and removed. By that time, it has taken on a life of its own and treated as gospel by whomever is naïve or prejudiced enough to believe it.
The examples I’ll be citing have been discredited by objective, nonpartisan fact checkers, notably PunditFact at Politifact.com (under journalism watchdog, the Poynter Institute), which checks the accuracy of information, much of it claiming to be news, that comes at us from all directions. That includes politicians, commentators, bloggers and websites with social or political agendas. Take a closer look there for the specifics of each of the following examples.
We could go back to some golden oldies that brought us to where we are today— everyone in our own camps, selective in our beliefs and often ignoring the facts and, yes, the truth. I’m just concentrating on the fake news of the first three months of this year alone, and, even when proven false, their staying power is often enormous:
√ A morgue employee was not cremated by mistake when taking a nap.
√ There is no evidence that either Republicans or Democrats are responsible for a significant number of mass murders, despite observations made by various politicians on the left and right
√ Jared Kushner and wife, Ivanka Trump, were not thrown out of the White House and cut from Donald Trump’s will.
√ Michelle Obama never said that the Florida school shooting was President Trump’s fault.
√ Ted Cruz, who led a federal government shutdown in 2013 did say, on Jan. 22 of this year: “I have consistently opposed shutdowns.”
√ An illegal Muslim from Iran was not arrested for starting a California wildfire, as reported as breaking news by the USA in Front website, nor did a Muslim New Jersey Mayor ban the word “Christmas.”
√ Sen. Chuck Schumer never had a steamy affair with a high school cheerleader.
√ Melania Trump never had the White House exorcised to “cleanse it of Obama demons.”
√ Four million votes by Democrats were not found to be fraudulent in the 2016 Presidential election, as reported briefly (subsequently taken down) by Facebook in February. Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote.
√ Donald Trump did not kill funding for “Obama’s Presidential Library” as a viral Facebook story claimed.
√ Obama did not order the U.S. Department of Education to divert $8 million for his Presidential Library.
√ The Jacksonville Jaguars did not declare bankruptcy after players took a knee during the National Anthem.
√ Dolly Parton never said: “Trump in one year is already better than 16 years of Bush, Obama put together.” (This exact quote was made by Brett Decker, a former Wall Street Journal editor, in a Breitbart interview on the subject of consumer confidence. Attributing it to Dolly obviously grabbed more attention.)
√ Democrats are not running a child porn operation out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor,
√ Dan Patrick, a Texas State Senator did say that “566,000 crimes were made in Texas by criminal (illegal) aliens in the last six years,” but there was no such statistic to be found.
√ An 82-year-old man did not get the death penalty for killing a Muslim in self-defense.
√ As Trump-like as it sounds, our President did not Tweet: “If the Dow Jones ever falls more than 1000 ‘points’ in a Single Day the sitting president should be ‘loaded’ into a very big cannon and Shot into the sun at TREMENDOUS SPEED! No excuses!” (That’s right. Now we’ve got to contend with fake Tweets.)
√ Julia Roberts did not say that Michelle Obama was “not fit to clean Melania’s toilet.”
√ It is not true that 99.8 percent of Americans will NOT get a tax cut from the Trump tax plan, as stated by Kelda Helen Roys, a Democratic Senator from Wisconsin,
√ Prince Harry did not say that “Trump is a serious threat to humans rights.”
√ Melania Trump did not say, “If ISIS lays a hand on Barron, I’ll scratch Obama’s eyes out.”
√ Democrats did not boo families of children murdered by gang members on Long Island at the State of the Union Address as maintained on Jan. 30 by CSC MediaGroup.USA which admittedly reports news “from a conservative perspective.”
√ It is not true that David Hogg, an outspoken Parkland student on gun control, was not at that school when the shootings took place. He was not only there, but he took videos during the shooting. Nor is it true that Hogg and other articulate students had been exposed as paid actors.
And these are just a sampling of some of the more recent fake news items. It may be true that facts aren’t the same as truth, because they can be manipulated. Used judiciously, they may lead to the truth.
Wes Skillings is a Pennsylvania-based copywriter whose recent emergence into this field brings a freshness and vitality that will make the words on your website, newsletter, direct mail marketing or news release reach out and grab the customer base you are seeking.