Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fake News, Unfortunately, No, it is Too Real.

I grew up during the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal. I know a little about government generated misinformation. I lived through the Reagan administration. The great manipulator in chief. A man who could smile and "aw shucks" his way out of the Iran-Contra crimes with a simple "I was napping at the time," sort of claim. Trump, however, is in a league of his own.

Speaking to the military at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida he made the claim that terrorist attacks are being ignored by the press. Saying, "and in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that." No, they probably don't understand that Mr. President.

I certainly don't, Mr. President. Perhaps they, the "very, very dishonest press" are too busy making up "fake news" about the things you said, Mr. President. Though, there is no way any dishonest reporter, no matter how creative, how feverishly imaginative, could ever match the news you actually create.

If, during the Obama presidency, or either of the Bush presidencies, Reagan, Carter, Clinton, any of them, the press would have reported the president threatened to invade Mexico it would have seemed like "fake news." Today it seems like "news." Troubling, terrifying news, but real news.

If the press would have reported that Bush, who launched an invasion in Iraq, would have instituted a ban on seven predominately Muslim nations, including Iraq, thereby infuriating almost one half of the world it would have seemed like fiction, sensationalistic journalism. Now it just seems like journalism. 

If, during any presidency I can remember the president's senior adviser had called the press the opposition party and advised the press to "keep its mouth shut," it would have seemed like fiction. Today, obody has any trouble believing it as fact. 

Telling the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of National Intelligence they were being replaced on the National Security Council by a presidential adviser, and then having the press secretary justify the action by citing his short, unremarkable career in the navy people would have scoffed, calling it rumor. Until now. Now it almost seems predictable.  

No, Mr. President, it seems the real problem with the press is not how little they report, but how much. At least how much they report that defines the damage you are doing. And the more we know the better.