When Fake News is Actually Fake News

That people shared the photo thinking it was real shows how far we've fallen.

We hear a lot about “fake news” these days from someone tweeting from the White House.

Under the barrage of those tweets identifying anything the Tweeter-in-Chief disagrees with as “fake” (let’s just pick national news stories verified by multiple sources, including sworn testimony in congressional hearings as a recent example), it is easy to forget that there actually is news that is fake... as in made up... as in manufactured... as in patently untrue.

It is also tempting to dismiss the impact that actual fake news has on those who read it uncritically and allow it to feed, water and fertilize the unexamined bias and bigotry that frames their worldview. However ― given the very real threat the toxin of that fertilized polarization poses to the foundations of our democracy ― we ignore it at our peril.

Here’s an example. I saw it fly by on Twitter and thought, “c’mon, really? This is so fake it must be FAKE fake news because... seriously!”

But no. I personally went to the website (conservativepost.com) and pulled this screen cap... which purports to show the “shocking image” of Black Lives Matter protesters blocking Hurricane Harvey relief... in August... in down jackets... with snow on the ground.

I know. I can’t even. If it’s possible to get more fake than that I quite honestly don’t want to know about it.

But let’s be clear: these are the same folks tweeting their outrage that Obama failed to meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina ― which happened during the Bush administration. They are the ones who are convinced climate science is a myth ― but Genesis isn’t. And these are the voters who elected as their president someone who seems incapable of differentiating between fact and opinion ― proving that it is in fact a dangerous thing to live in a world where facts are not a thing. Particularly when you have access to the nuclear codes.

Thankfully, scripture has an antidote to this craziness: John 8:32 ... “the truth will set you free.” But in order to implement that antidote we have to activate it. So speak the truth. Call out the lies. Smoke out the fake. If we can be the change we want to see, we can also speak the truth that will set us free. Our democracy depends on it.