When Is Real News Fake News?

Fake news used to be a term we applied to the stories you’d see in supermarket tabloids about alien abductions and bat boys. Very recently the term transformed into a way to discredit any news story that either goes against a person’s ideology or shows that person in an unfavorable light. With charges of fake news being made on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, how are we to know whom to trust?

I’ve been watching an inordinate amount of coverage across all the news platforms this year as part of a new web gig I have and it is quite disheartening to see how even the simplest of news stories are being presented through such glaringly different journalistic prisms. For example, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is in the news everyday, justifiably so, but the coverage of his interactions has been wildly bi-polar. On the more liberal channels and websites an interaction with a reporter may be headlined as “Reporter Catches Sean Spicer In Obvious Lie” while on the more conservative platforms they’ll claim “Sean Spicer Slams Reporter As Fake News.” If you actually watch the interaction both articles describe, it’s a generic exchange between reporter and spokesperson that has been taken out of context to fit whatever media narrative they are trying to support.

This dichotomy is the new normal in TV news. For every reporter trying to call out the current administration on its behavior, there’s another reporter sticking up for it and calling out the media biases. Everyone seems to be taking sides, but who is accurately reporting the facts?

One seemingly innocuous news chat this week was a perfect example of the problem with much of today’s news reporting. Fox News journalist Tucker Carlson appeared on Fox & Friends on Monday morning to discuss the wiretap allegations that came out last weekend. During his appearance with the popular morning show’s co-hosts he said this -

“Notice the reflexive position of the press, which is that the intelligence agencies are always right. I can’t tell you the number of interviews I’ve done in the last month where people have said ‘All seventeen intelligence agencies believe Russia interfered in the election.’ Well the obvious question is, do we have seventeen intelligence agencies? Can you name them? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? No! Of course, you have no idea.”

First off, yes, there ARE seventeen intelligence agencies. The seventeen everyone keeps referring to is made up of The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Intelligence Community, which is made up of these sixteen agencies.

Secondly, I was able to find these seventeen agencies AND the joint statement they released about Russia’s interference in our election by doing a Google search that took less time than it took Mr. Carlson to sarcastically scoff at their existence. Now if this was just a random interviewee or political pundit buffoonery, I would let it slide as party bias, but Tucker Carlson is supposed to be a real journalist. He hosts an hour of primetime on one of the biggest news networks in the world and after ALL of those interviews he said he conducted where people stated that “seventeen intelligence agencies” claim, he never thought to actually do some research? Or, at the very least, have a Fox News intern do it?

According to its page on the Fox News website, here’s the mission of “Tucker Carlson Tonight”

“We're the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and group think. We ask the questions that you would ask - and demand answers.”

Sworn enemy or shining example?

Tucker Carlson isn’t alone in this type of “journalism”, it’s pervasive across all the news networks, but if the folks we’re getting our facts from aren’t checking the facts themselves, where does that leave us?

Here’s the author taking Tucker Carlson to task on Wednesday’s episode of Yesterday Today.

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