President Trump really doesn’t like CNN.
And the animosity is mutual.
Since Election Day 2016 — even before — CNN has moaned about Trump’s non-stop bashing of the liberal network, saying that he’s running roughshod over the First Amendment. (As a refresher, here’s the text of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”)
But, wouldn’t you know it, CNN now wants to forget all that stuff about “freedom of speech” (see, that only applies to liberals — anyone else needs to be shut down ASAP).
“Ban the term ‘fake news’,” says the headline of a Sunday post on CNN.com. The story was so weighty it took two people to write it: Hossein Derakhshan, a writer and researcher “on the socio-political impacts of new media technologies,” CNN says, and Claire Wardle, a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
When we use the term “fake news” it is not only self-defeating, it oversimplifies a very complex problem.
A year ago, this wasn’t the case. The term actually meant something. It described a particular type of website that used the same design templates as professional news websites but its contents were entirely fabricated.
But earlier this year, the term started to become meaningless. It became used to describe any piece of information that someone else didn’t like. Increasingly the term has become weaponized by politicians who use it to undermine independent journalism in an effort to reach the public directly through their own channels.
The writers say the problem is worldwide and decry such fake news as “the image of a shark swimming up a Texas highway during Hurricane Harvey.”
(Another reminder: CNN deceptively edited a video to make it look like Trump committed a major faux pas in Japan by dumping an entire container of fish food into a koi pond — the full video shows the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doing exactly the same thing first.)
Still, the writers think someone somewhere should be policing the news to decide what gets printed and what doesn’t — or at the very least, what we all call said news.
We live in a time when our information streams are polluted and there are many different types of information. They move and shift. Some types are visible; others are harder to spot. Some we would all agree are problematic — manipulated images created during a breaking news event, for example, designed to confuse and to hoax. But what about satirical news websites? What about misleading headlines designed solely to drive traffic?We need to rethink our vocabulary.
The writers quote Sun Tzu (a stretch), but come to the conclusion that social media is the problem.
Given how social media have made our information consumption a public performance for our audience, it is now even less likely for most people to swim against the tide and challenge each other. In our increasingly lonely lives, who would want to feel lonelier? …
Now significantly less powerful agents can harm large institutions or established individuals with few resources. It is asymmetrical warfare.There are two new and unique aspects of social media which have changed the game: Firstly, disinformation can be cheaply amplified through committed volunteers, paid agents or bots. Secondly, our information sources are becoming increasingly social, and therefore much more visual, emotional, and performative. And as trust in institutions decreases, people are turning to their closest networks of family and friends for information.
In the end, the writers conclude: “So what can be done? The truth is that there are no easy solutions.”
Well, just ban the term “fake news.” There, problem solved.
And as if on cue, Trump sent out this post on Twitter Monday morning: