Fake News – Does it Really hurt Us???
BREAKING NEWS – U.S. Department of Defense Makes Multi-Trillion Dollar Commitment to Scrap all its Current Military Vehicles, Aircraft, and Ships.
Apple Decides to Cease Production and Sales of All Phones, Tablets, and Computers due, to Lagging Interest and Sales.
OK – You get the point – these two “Breaking News” stories are obviously not true…but…what about the not so obvious and more subtle attempts of our media, our politicians, and even ourselves to spread misinformation or what has become the buzz word; Fake News?
As much as this buzz word is relatively new, the “practice” of spreading false information has been around as long as man has walked the earth. As a young man growing up in central Indiana, this practice was called lying. But we, in today’s society, have become far more sensitive and reserve to use such a bold, yet honest term. So, today we call lying: false information, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, untruthful, deceptive, mendacious, perfidious, deceitful, deceiving, deceptive, dissimulating, dissembling, double-dealing, two-faced, Janus-faced, guileful, underhand, disingenuous, crooked, bent, sneaky, tricky, hollow-hearted, and duplicitous…My aren’t we so much more civilized today than before, now that we have so many words for dishonesty ☹.
In fact, when I grew up, Newspapers, Radio, and Television, advertisements went out of their way to make sure they had truthful and unimpeachable ads. It was a means of respect and trust to gain the publics confidence in their products or services, and their businesses could be ruined and disgraced if anything within their advertisements was found to be less than 100% truthful. Today, it seems the better we can lie, or deflect, or misrepresent, the better we do in business – I know this is only the minority of companies but even well-established respected firms find very creative ways of bending, or sometimes hiding, the truth.
As I hinted before, this is not an issue just prevalent since my youth of the 1950’s and 60’s, but, as it is with many of life’s challenges, this concern can be traced back to the origin of Man. When the serpent, aka Satan, first deceived Eve, in the Garden of Eden, the very first lie was told, and mans ability to effectively use deceit has grown exponentially ever since!
So, we know it started at the very beginning, but what are some more recent examples of critical Fake News that is hurting or has hurt us all in some way, none quite so hurtful as the serpent-Satan’s original lie:
In 1888, a series of brutal slayings in the Whitechapel district of East London were widely reported. Accounts of the eleven murders, typically involving prostitutes, were described in graphic detail in the newspapers of the time. Many tried to profit from the high-profile case by spreading fake news.
Two young men, full of drink, were arrested and charged with spreading fake news. The pair were in Wright’s Lane in Kensington with their bundles of newspapers, and were heard to shout “Arrest of Jack the Ripper Tonight” at the top of their voices. William Macdonald and George Write, news vendors, were taken before the court but later discharged.
James Kendrick, another news vendor, was also charged with crying out false news about Jack the Ripper. After slow Sunday sales, he began calling that there was a “Horrible Discovery of a Missing Woman at Charing Cross”. Later, he cried out that four women were discovered slashed at Charing Cross. One customer, who bought one of his papers, found no such article inside and took the matter to the police. The news vendor was sentenced to 14 days in jail, with hard labor.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) Dead at 61
On June 1, 1897, reports out of New York were that Mark Twain was ‘dying in poverty in London’. The next day, an article headlined Mark Twain Amused, appeared in the New York Journal under the byline of Frank Marshall White.
When reached for comment, Mark Twain told the reporter that he did not know whether to be amused or annoyed. He assured him that he was living with his wife and children in a very nice house in Chelsea and was hardly living in poverty, nor was he ill. It was Twain’s belief that the story came about because a cousin of his, James Ross Clemens of St Louis, was ill in London two or three weeks previously, although he had since recovered.
Twain went on to state: “The report of my death was an exaggeration. The report of my poverty is harder to deal with.”
War of the Worlds
The fake news of an alien attack on America is a classic one. On Sunday, 30 October 1938, the Columbia Broadcasting network aired an adaptation of the 1898 novel War of the Worlds by HG Wells. During the broadcast, the first two thirds of the story were aired over the radio as a series of breaking news alerts and the effect was so realistic that many listeners panicked, believing that there truly was an alien invasion taking place.
The show began as an interruption to regular programming announcing that a professor had observed a series of gas explosions on Mars. Later, a bulletin stated that a meteor had fallen in New Jersey, killing 15,000 people. Another news flash contradicted the first, saying that the meteor was actually a cylindrical object containing strange creatures from Mars armed with death ray guns.
War of the Worlds Hoax is Headline News in Australia
Even before the end of the broadcast, doctors, nurses, soldiers and sailors reported for duty, ready to fight the Martians. Police stations across the country responded to thousands of calls. Newspaper reporters, hearing of the invasion, rushed to prepare special editions. Producers of the show were quite unprepared for this response, never thinking that anyone would believe that the broadcast was real.
U.S. Soldiers Intentionally Abuse - Disrespect the Qur’an (Koran)
April – June 2005: It became an international news story that led to riots and deaths due to anger and destruction throughout the world, mostly the middle east. The story was that U.S. Soldiers were intentionally abusing and disrespecting the Koran, in full view of prisoners at Guantanamo Base (aka Gitmo), in an effort to hurt, shame, and anger, the inmates. This story made headlines in nearly every paper and newscast throughout the globe. An independent investigation was ordered. Because I am, or should I say was, a news junkie, I was actually watching CSPAN when the investigation results were announced. Here are the facts:
· 1600 copies of the Koran were provided by the U.S. Military to the prisoners
· 102 occurrences of abuse were found (6.4% of the books distributed)
· 97 of the found occurrences were perpetuated by the prisoners themselves (6.0% of the books distributed)
· 5 U.S. servicemen were guilty of abuse or disrespect (0.3% of the books distributed or 4.93% of the total abuses)
· 2 of the 5 U.S. servicemen were found to have perpetuated the abuse or disrespect intentionally, the other 3 occurring accidently. (0.1% of the books distributed or 1.9% of the total abuses)
As I heard and reflected on the story, I thought to myself that as long as mankind is involved, there will always be some who don’t follow the rules. It is always a shame when people attempt to demean other people. But I was actually satisfied to hear the numbers, because less than 2% of the U.S. Soldiers were actually found to have intentionally done what was claimed. However, this story took a far more negative turn the next day when world-wide news institutions reported:
· US admits Koran abuse at Cuba base
· Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantánamo Bay
· U.S. confirms Gitmo soldier kicked Quran
· Local Muslims protest Quran abuse
· Quran Desecration: Far Worse than Abu Ghraib
Just like the serpent, these media outlets turned half-truth statements into fear and anger, by implying this was not only a U.S. Military strategy, but these actions were a reflection of our government and of all Americans.
Trump Promises Covid-19 Relief by Easter
March 23, 2020: According to several media outlets, President Trump promises the “lock-down,” due to the pandemic, will end by Easter. This was not what the President stated. Call me shallow or state that I don’t have a life, but I was listening to the news conference live. What the President said was that he “hoped” the nation’s dramatic response to the coronavirus pandemic will be scaled back within weeks to revive the economy and pack churches by Easter Sunday. “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go,” Trump stated. “Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked into a house or an apartment or some space,” Trump said. “It’s not for our country, and we are not built that way. “I think that would be a great thing for our country,” Trump said. “We’re all working very hard to make that a reality. Easter is a very special day for a lot of reasons. What a great timeline that would be.”
Obviously in hindsight this didn’t occur but there are two issues here – it was reported as an affirmative statement and promise, which obviously it was not. Secondly, it does not seem to me to be a negative that the President hoped, as most of us did, for the trends at that time to continue to benefit all us by a very special day.
Anti-Vaccine Posts Use Deceptively Edited Video Clip
December 18, 2020: Social media pages that share anti-vaccine messages have used a selectively edited news clip that suggests the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe. The clip shows a nurse fainting after she gets the vaccine, but it doesn’t show her quick recovery. Afterward, the nurse explained that she is prone to fainting when triggered by even a slight pain, yet her explanation didn’t make the news clip.
"Winning isn’t everything; it's the only thing"
This is a well-known quotation in sports. It is commonly referred to as a saying from Vince Lombardi, successful NFL coach and world champion. However, it is more correctly attributed to the originator; Vanderbilt football coach Henry Russell ("Red") Sanders. It is believed he first used this motivational phrase in the late 1930’s.
However, throughout all of sports, this phrase has nearly always been attributed to Lombardi. While it is true that Lombardi did indeed make the statement, on occasion, throughout his career, it’s also true that he often gets misquoted and usually did not utter this exact phrase. On one interview with the legendary coach, Lombardi stated: “I wish to hell I’d never said the damned thing,” Lombardi once told a reporter. “I meant the effort… I meant having a goal… I sure as hell didn’t mean for people to crush human values and morality.” Quoting me as making that exact statement is a little out of context. What I said is that “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is. Winning is not a SOME-time thing…it is an ALL-time thing. You don’t win once in a while …