Fake News

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This is fake news.

Donald Trump is an insecure menace. During his press conference earlier today, he dismissed several mainstream media outlets—including the BBC (the BBC!)—as being “fake news.” He then took a question from Breitbart.

This should come as no surprise.

Anyone paying attention knows Trump has waged a steady campaign to delegitimize the media. The fact this is being done by the soon-to-be leader of the free world should terrify anyone with half a brain and a grain of logic.

Leaders—at least in democracies—are beholden to the people. It’s the job of a healthy, cynical press to ask uncomfortable questions and hold those leaders accountable. When trust in the media is eroded, there can be no accountability. Trump fails to realize it’s not the media’s job to be nice to him. Fair, yes—but not nice.

In the comment section to nearly every story I read on the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion the Russians hacked the election to back Trump, there were posts from Trump’s supporters dismissing the articles as “fake news.”

It’s scary that there’s a large segment of our population who will believe any outlandish tale about Obama (birther movement) or Clinton (pizzeria pedophile ring), but refuse to believe news stories rooted in fact with numerous verifiable, expert sources.

If trust in the mainstream media completely erodes, all we’re left with is propaganda (see Sean Hannity) and a thin-skinned megalomaniac in power who can control whatever message he wants.

Edward R. Murrow, where are you?

The New Age of Gullible

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We are living in dangerously weird times right now. Smart people just shrug and admit they’re dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb.

Hunter S. Thompson, Prepare for the Weirdness (ESPN.com, November 20, 2000)

It seems we’ve truly entered a new age of gullibility. The scourge of fake news and baseless conspiracy theories have now polluted mainstream society.  It’s beyond comprehension people out there believe the Clinton campaign ran a child sex ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria or that Sandy Hook never happened. Rational thought for a good many people has flown the coop.

There is, of course, a stunning lack of intellectual capacity in government. As Mark Twain once said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress—but I repeat myself.”  We have an incoming administration comprised of individuals who deny climate change is real and believe you can pray away gay. You can no more pray away your sexuality than you can pray away stupidity—and God forbid we should want clean air to breathe and fresh water to drink.

I used to joke that realty television would be the downfall of civilized society. It’s become a contagion, spreading its displays of vapid human behavior from one TV channel to the next. When was the last time you turned on The History Channel and actually saw a history show? If it’s not back-to-back episodes of Pawn Stars, it’s an all-day marathon of Swamp People. (Full disclosure: I enjoy American Pickers.)

Want endless programming focused on little people, polygamists, and quickie marriages? Tune into The Learning Channel.  And then there’s Bravo, the burning, incandescent center of the reality TV universe. Entertainment and reality have morphed into some horrible new thing that’s found its way into the highest echelon of power.  Indeed, the soon-to-be leader of the free wold will be executive producer of the new Celebrity Apprentice.

In this new world, sensible thought, logical arguments, and the simple truth are frowned upon. Look at what’s happened to Chuck Jones, president of Indiana’s United Steelworkers Local 1999, who called out Trump for exaggerating the number of job’s saved at the Carrier plant. Trump himself bashed the guy on Twitter, which spurred a number of Trumpites to launch a campaign of harassment against Jones.

Consider that. The President-Elect of the United States of America maligned on social media a private citizen for speaking his mind. That should concern you . . . if it doesn’t, you’re part of the problem.  But who knows? Maybe, someday, he’ll turn his Twitter minions on you.