But who is to decide what is “fake news”? Who will be Facebook and Google’s sources for real news?
In 2013 the U.S. Senate considered a new shield law to protect journalists. In the lawmakers’ attempts to narrow the definition of a journalist, some Senators including Sen. Dianne Feinstein only wanted to include reporters with “professional qualifications.”
“Professional” publications such as the New York Times, the “Paper of Record,” would apparently be protected.
During the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, there were collusions between then-CNN contributor and DNC operative Donna Brazile, who was outed by WikiLeaks in her giving candidate Hillary Clinton questions in advance for a CNN Town Hall.
Other emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks informed us that reporters obediently followed instructions from the Hillary Clinton campaign on how to cover the campaign. These include reporters from the New York Times such as Maggie Haberman who said the campaign would “tee up stories for us,” and Mark Leibovich, who would email Clinton flunky Jennifer Palmieri for editing recommendations.
And Politico reporter Glenn Thrush asked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for approval of stories on Clinton. Thrush was then hired by the New York Times. After Thrush was then suspended from NYT over allegations of sexual misconduct, the Times ended the suspension, stating that while Thrush had “acted offensively,” he would be trained to behave himself. Hmm.
But all this from the 2016 campaign reminded me of the “JournoLists,” the group of news journalists who participated in a private forum online from 2007-2010. The forum was to enable news reporters to discuss news reporting and political issues in private and with candor, but also, it was revealed, to discuss ways to suppress negative news on then-2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama.
For instance, according to the Daily Caller, some members of the group discussed their criticism of a 2008 debate in which Obama was questioned on his association with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Nation‘s Richard Kim wrote that George Stephanopoulos was “being a disgusting little rat snake.” The Guardian‘s Michael Tomasky wrote that “we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy.”
Spencer Ackerman, then with the Washington Independent and now of the Daily Beast, wrote, “If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
The Nation‘s Chris Hayes wrote, “Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor.”
In an open letter, according to the Daily Caller, several of the JournoList members called the ABC debate a “revolting descent into tabloid journalism,” because of the moderators’ legitimate questions on Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
So, in today’s Bizarro World, objectively questioning a candidate on a controversial issue is now “tabloid journalism,” but making things up like “Trump-Russia collusions” and repeating the propaganda over and over – that’s not “tabloid journalism.”
The JournoLists also included reporters from Time, the Baltimore Sun, the New Republic, Politico, and Huffington Post.
Now, are those the sources of “real news” that Facebook, Google and Twitter want to rely upon to combat “fake news”?
And who exactly were the “JournoLists” promoting? Obama?
Regarding Obama’s own crackdown on actual journalism, Fox News reporter James Rosen was accused by the feds of being a “co-conspirator” with State Department leaker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in violating the Espionage Act. Rosen’s correspondences with Kim were seized by Obama’s FBI, along with Rosen’s personal email and phone records. The FBI also used records to track Rosen’s visits to the State Department.
Apparently, then-attorney general Eric Holder went “judge-shopping” to find a judge who would approve subpoenaing Rosen’s private records, after two judges rejected the request.
Commenting on James Rosen and the FBI’s abuse of powers, Judge Andrew Napolitano observed that “this is the first time that the federal government has moved to this level of taking ordinary, reasonable, traditional, lawful reporter skills and claiming they constitute criminal behavior.”
And there was the Obama administration’s going after then-CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, possibly for her reporting on Benghazi and Fast and Furious. Attkisson finally resignedfrom CBS news out of frustration with the company’s alleged pro-Obama bias and with CBS’s apparently not airing her subsequent reports.
In 2013 CBS News confirmed that Attkisson’s computers had been “accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions.” In 2015 Attkisson sued the Obama administration, claiming to have evidence which proves the computer intrusions were connected to the Obama DOJ.
In Attkisson’s latest lawsuit update, after her computer was returned to her following the DOJ Inspector General’s investigation, her forensics team now believes her computer’s hard drive was replaced by a different one.
Now back to “fake news.”
After Donald Trump locked up the Republican Presidential nomination in May, 2016, there were significant events in the next two months. Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele colluded to get opposition research on behalf of Hillary Clinton, the FBI applied for FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associates, and Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner had a possibly set-up meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.
Also within that same period, the DNC claimed that its computers were hacked but the DNC wouldn’t let FBI investigate. The Washington Post published an article claiming, with no evidence presented, that “Russian government hackers” took DNC opposition research on Trump.
It was very shortly after the November, 2016 Presidential election that the Washington Post published an article on a “Russian propaganda effort to spread ‘fake news’ during the election.” To escalate the media’s censorship campaign perhaps?
The campaign against “fake news” coincided with Obama minions at FBI, DOJ and CIA apparently panicking over a possible Trump presidency and their allegedly abusing their powers to attempt to take down Trump.
So the news media seem to be on a crusade to fabricate “Trump-Russia collusions” and repeat it over and over, and to vilify, ignore and squash actual investigative research and reporting on what exactly the FBI and DOJ bureaucrats have been doing. Call such real investigative reporting “fake news,” “conspiracy theory,” and so forth.
In the end, Facebook, Twitter and Google might want to reconsider relying on the mainstream news media led by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, and instead include citizen journalists and non-government-sycophant media to provide news and information.
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has noted that the Founders generally viewed the freedom of the Press to apply to every citizen to print, publish or express accounts of events. We really need to highlight that kind of old-fashioned, honest journalism.
Scott Lazarowitz is a libertarian writer and commentator. Please visit his blog.
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