Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Real Problem With Fake News

Yes, fake news is a real problem. I’m not talking about the random garbage that shows up in your Facebook feed about aliens and giant conspiracies that send people into tinfoil rage spirals. I’m talking about what is presented as news by legitimate news outlets. Much of what you see presented as news on cable news networks is not news at all. And it’s making those who consume it less informed.
First, let me say there is real news to be found on cable news networks. All employ serious and excellent journalists with legitimate sources, asking important questions and reporting truths those in power would rather have ignored. My problem is not with them. My problem is cable news underuses or outright ignores them and focuses attention on people who can only convey what they think about the news.
You may not know this, but the people you see on cable news shows who are listed as “contributors” or “talk show hosts” or “strategists” have no more knowledge on the topic they’re discussing in authoritative tones than your dog does most of the time. It’s a problem because when average people watch these shows, they expect to get legitimate news. What they get is nothing of the sort.
Here’s how it works: The people you see on TV who aren’t newsmakers or members of Congress sometimes are booked well in advance, sometimes as much as a week. This is especially true in “debate” segments, when they have someone from the right and left discussing a topic. They don’t actually find out the topic they are “debating” until the morning of their scheduled appearance, and it can change until the moment they’re on the air if something happens in the world. 

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