Fake news abounds and now it has been rewarded

Published 6:56 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

By Bobby Tingle


Fake news is not new, but it certainly has been in the news recently. The best place to get fake news, in my opinion, is on social media.

Social media experts please join in the conversation here. I am no expert on social media.

But I am well enough versed to detect a suspicious post. I believe these are commonly called ‘click bait’. Generally these contain provocative images or headlines designed to compel a ‘mouse click’. A handsome man or beautiful woman improperly dressed by ‘Victorian’ standards will usually fill the bill. Of course, the subject is generally lean where they should be lean and bulging where they should be bulging. Or, it could be an outrageous phrase, often too weird or wild or unbelievable to be true. To verify ‘click bait’ all you have to do is give in and click.

This week the President of the United States released his ballyhooed ‘fake news awards’ for 2017. At the top of the heap was New York Times’ Paul Krugman followed by ABC’s Brian Ross.

CNN, Time magazine and the Washington Post rounded out the top five.

A total of 11 awards were presented by Trump. Predictably CNN got top honors garnering four of the top 10 awards, followed by Newsweek with two awards and the New York Times, ABC, Time and the Washington Post receiving one accolade each for their excellence in ‘fake news’ reporting.

Last but not least Trump deemed the ‘Russia Collusion hoax’ in his list of fake news winners.

News reporting is by nature biased. Objectivity is extremely difficult to achieve.

Local sports reporting and play-by-play broadcasts demonstrate uninhibited bias. For example, West Orange Stark travelled to the Reservation to take on the Indians in a preseason football scrimmage last August. Orange Leader Sports Editor, Van Wade, and Port Arthur News sports reporter, Chris Moore submitted news reports on the game. If you read each article you notice a difference in perspective. Wade focused on the Mustangs while Moore on the Indians.

Not a thing in the world out of line there.

Had West Orange Stark travelled to Nederland for their season opener media bias would have surely been on display in radio broadcasts. KLVI typically broadcasts Bulldog football play-by-play while Gary Stelly does the same for the Mustangs via KOGT radio. Had you listened to a sample of both broadcasts I suspect you would have noticed a marked difference in the two broadcasts. Stelly, I strongly suspect, would have been all about the Mustangs and not so much about the Bulldogs.

Not a thing in the world wrong there either.

Actually, we expect bias in news reporting and generally choose where we consume news based on our bias. We want to hear about events presented in a way that most matches our bias. Or, we want to know what is going on in a local news arena.

For example, again in my humble opinion, The Orange Leader is the best source for local hometown Orange County news.

One national news source recently reported in depth about Trump’s then anticipated fake news awards. The report even hinted at his encroachment on the United States Constitution’s provision for freedom of the press. Bashing the press in this way somehow infringes on our rights to a free press. What makes this report even more interesting is what the report left out.

You see, in the same week, former President Barak Obama reportedly made a statement about a competing networks viewers ‘living on a different planet’. He attributed his assessment to their adherence to a different set of ‘facts’, which form the foundation of their news reports. If Obama is accurate then one set of facts are lies. There can only be one reality.

The former news reporter may have attempted to sway his audience by leaving out the Obama revelation. Or maybe he just didn’t know.

The winners of Trump’s ‘fake news awards’ were worthy. Each of the top 10 winners has had their reports proven false and in some cases reporters have been demoted or fired. Whether collusion with the Russians is a hoax or not has yet to be officially determined.

Displaying bias in news reporting is totally acceptable, in my humble opinion. Making up news is never acceptable. Lying is human nature and we all do it. We should strive to eliminate lies, against our nature, for the sole purpose of promoting our bias. Let the facts speak for themselves.

News consumers of the world should be on guard.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com.