The Fact Checking Era
Can be described as the act of determining the veracity of perceived factual statements in both printed text and oral speeches.
According to Politifact: In 2016, the prevalence of political fact abuse – promulgated by the words of two polarizing presidential candidates and their passionate supporters – gave rise to a spreading of fake news with unprecedented impunity. This is further explained in their 2016 Lie of the Year article.
The Media’s Position
During the recent 2016 election, some media outlets directly called out the Trump Campaign for its blatant misinformation. While other media outlets would ONLY present the facts, allowing the reader to decide for themselves. Here are examples of some of the methods used to combat Trump’s false truths. labeled him as a liar, others did not want to use that word and instead aggressively presented the facts only so that the audience could decide for themselves.
The Huffington Post went so far as adding an editor’s disclaimer to every Trump story.
MSNBC– referred to themselves as the “Truth-squad”. Was viewed as THE villain especially by the Trump campaign and hard-right conservatives. MSNBC Network would go head to head with the lies and rhetoric that would constantly be repeated. Would quote him verbatim, challenging his spread false truths, and those lies are incendiary. (Heard the word “incendiary” MANY times during the last 18 months.)
National Public Radio took a different approach…
NPR did not want to use the word “LIAR”. Instead, they gave mostly facts, almost tirelessly, and tried to be as bi-partisan as ever.
The Associated Press avoided the “L” word as well and incorporated the facts by constructed their articles around the truth.
DID IT HELP?
In short: NOPE!
MSNBC’s Managing Editor, Rashida Jones explained that the network did conduct focus groups where they explained that the truth was missing from what the participants were hearing. Their responses were that “they didn’t care if that was the truth or not, they only cared about some ‘other thing’ their candidate of choice was going to do. When negative things came out about their chosen candidate or their candidate was called an outright liar, some would then blame the media for being untrue, biased, crooked, and that they cannot be trusted. Participants simply disregarded the truth, and most certainly would not use media networks to inform them especially because they did not trust the media, to begin with.
Social Media and Misleading News Headlines:
It’s scary how easily something that is not true can go viral. This is because social media is becoming more and more like an echo-chamber. Defined by Wikipedia as a place where “information, ideas or beliefs are amplified by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In fact, the very algorithms used by Facebook, Google and Twitter help to reinforce our personal echo-chambers. The algorithms show you MORE of the same content you click on, view and share the most.
As a result, social media is the perfect place for misleading information to be passed along. The language that is used in the media blurs the truth too.
The word “contrarian” means to reject popular opinion. However, EPA transition head Myron Ebell says climate change is a hoax, and nothing to worry about. Instead, Ebell should be called a “Climate Change Denier” because he does not believe in climate change at all. This would be the appropriate label.
This headline, again, is misleading. A West Virginia Mayor was forced to resign after agreeing with another West Virginia resident that they are happy that a “truly classy” woman will now be the first lady, after having to watch 8 years of an “Ape in heels”, referring to our First Lady, Michelle Obama. Let us call a spade a spade here. The mayor is a bigoted racist. NOT controversial.
HOW DO WE COMBAT THIS?
In this election, the question is where does it go from here? How will the press address this new presidency and overall shift in providing the truth?
Instead of checking the facts on every single thing that Trump says, especially because he lies 90% of the time, we’re now going to have to look at his speeches, tweets, outbursts as “what is he trying to say overall? What is he trying to say by lying MOST of the time?” Trump’s usage of lies is essentially saying “I claim to say whatever the h*** I want to– because it is a part of my power, that people believe my lies.” (The weaponization of misinformation) They must always write about the bigger picture. They must still call him out on his lies. Tell the truth and NOT just report the facts. It must be figured out how to close up the gap from what’s being said and the actual truth of it.
Facebook, Google and Twitter are going to try to work together to curtail the misinformation. Facebook is currently beta testing and third party fact checkers are now going to sift through the news.
But in the end, YOU, must be your own fact-checker. Check the source, question the author, google the information— and then google it again. Check the deep web if you have the capability to as well. (Paid for search engines other than Google.)
Finally, the Fourth Estate says, “we’re not going to stop. If not us then who [will]?”