Every time I read the news, I hear about so-called “fake news.” “Fake news” spread Russian propaganda. “Fake news” invented Clinton scandals. “Fake news” elected Donald Trump. “Fake news” has destroyed American democracy. And now, the mere mention of a “fake news” story could cause the loss of life.
Hysteria over “fake news” reached a fever pitch with the election of Donald Trump. The mainstream media had repeatedly declared there was no way Trump could win. It tried to upend his campaign, denigrated and ridiculed him on a daily basis, issued phony polls, and cited so-called experts who predicted astronomically low odds of victory. Yet, those whom the mainstream media now deem as propagators of “fake news,” Infowars for instance, accurately reported the mainstream media’s misdeeds and were vindicated on Election Day. Feeling threatened, the mainstream media now wants these propagators to be silenced. They want Facebook and other social media to crack down. Even the Senate has become involved on behalf of the mainstream media. This open and pervasive disdain for free speech is troubling; troubling even more than the off-the-cuff tweet from Donald Trump about flag-burning, a topic for a later date.
The mainstream media’s attack on “fake news” is akin to its attack on Trump’s use of Twitter. It has nothing to do with the spread of false information, which the mainstream media routinely does itself. Rather, the mainstream media fears losing power and influence over public discourse. If Trump can speak directly to the American people he can avoid the media filter. Therefore, the media cannot spin his message into its own narrative. It cannot influence public discourse in a manner that will favor the establishment and maintain corporate interests. Likewise, the purveyors of “fake news,” often citizen journalists like myself, threaten the mainstream media’s monopoly over the news. Citizen journalists have just as much a right to free press as the mainstream media. In fact, citizen journalists frequently provide a pathway to truth. Without citizen journalists, we are left only with the narrative of the mainstream media.
Hillary Clinton 9/11 NYC pic.twitter.com/q9YnsjTxss
— Zdenek Gazda (@zgazda66) September 11, 2016
In this past election, it took a citizen journalist named Zdenek Gazda, the Abraham Zapruder of our time, to reveal the reality of Hillary Clinton’s health condition. The mainstream media insisted Clinton’s health was perfect. Anything saying otherwise was “fake news.” This fiction was destroyed when Gazda’s video of Clinton collapsing (shown above) after leaving the 9/11 memorial negated the myth that she had left early due to “overheating.” Because of citizen journalism, which the mainstream media considers “fake,” the fact that Clinton was suffering from pneumonia became public knowledge. It laid bare the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign and its protectors in the mainstream media. At the very least, it partially contributed to the election of citizen candidate Donald Trump, whom voters saw as antithetical to political correctness, the political establishment, and the mainstream media.
Today, the mainstream media considers “fake news” the bane of humanity, something that must be suppressed at every level. However, before the election, it expressed fear over the supposed threat Trump’s treatment of journalists posed to the First Amendment. Apparently, the mainstream media only cares about the First Amendment when it protects its own power and influence. If it actually cared about the First Amendment it would defend the rights of citizen journalists, even if that necessitated a defense of the dreaded “fake news.” In a free society, free people can decide for themselves if news is fake or not. Government must not involve itself in this issue any more than it already has. Government erosion of First Amendment rights at the behest of powerful corporate interests, not “fake news,” is the real threat worthy of our attention.