Fake news is supposed to mean non-media entities parading as legitimate news, but as I shown in 2005, legitimate outlets have been spewing fake news for years.
The Associated Press did just that when they mischaracterized an on-air blunder on Fox News Channel’s MediaBuzz hosted by Howard Kurtz (the original story is archived here and here, while the corrected version is here and here):
Fox News inadvertently posted a graphic showing it lagged other cable news networks in trustworthiness.It happened during a segment Sunday on “Media Buzz.” Host Howard Kurtz was talking about a Monmouth University poll about whether the media regularly or occasionally report fake news.But the graphic on the screen showed results from another question about what cable news outlets do respondents trust more. Fox News was last at 30 percent.Kurtz realized the mistake. He said “that is not the graphic we are looking for. Hold off. Take that down, please.”
This wasn’t a case of “gotcha.” This wasn’t a story at all.
Kurtz pointed out the distortion, while Left-winged partisan outlets, such as AlterNet took full advantage of the original flawed piece as did BoingBoing. Other outlets, such as the Washington Post covered the incident as did MarketWatch. Some others have been having a fit over AP’s antics.
The kerfuffle is over a very flawed and melodramatic partisan study from Monmouth University that makes a huge leap in logic that “‘Fake News’ Threat to Media; Editorial Decisions, Outside Actors at Fault.”
The AP story proved that fake news is a problem inside the old guard outlets. The FNC is a partisan outlet, as I chronicled in 2005, but here is a case where a bad study wasn’t questioned, and then another media outlet ignored the methodological flaws of the same study and could have brought MediaBuzz to task for not scrutinizing the study. Instead they misrepresented a mundane error and polluted the information stream.
Journalism has a serious trust issue. While the Monmouth study did reveal that people do have trust issues with the news (a no-brainer observation considering that news media use has been eroding for years), how they did it, and the questions they asked leave a lot to be desired. It is like using a psychic to determine if the man whose bone is protruding out from his leg has a broken limb.
But these are the screwy times we live in. There is a profound disrespect for facts. It is all about a narrative that is used to force people to believe the same ideology you believe in — and of course, this ideology completely benefits your backside. It is driven by folksy logic — the belief that life is a parable where fictional patriarchal story structures are logical and natural, and drive reality.
And it’s not.
You have to fight to find facts. They are raw and unprocessed. It is the reason why we need a profession that ignores the narratives to find those nuggets that show us what is really happening.
And when you have a program that takes a study for granted because they appeal to authority, and then have a wire service misrepresent the program, there can be no deep trust. Everything becomes babble, and our instincts to see truth from lies becomes dulled, and we begin to lose our way…