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Posted: December 6, 2017

Trump is right about fake news

Kootenay Crust

By Ian Cobb

(Op-Ed Commentary)

I had the honour of speaking to the Cranbrook Rotary Club last week about the state of journalism, with a foray into the reality of fake news.

Yes, reality of fake news.

It’s a thing. “Donald Trump is right.” I heard myself say that to the Rotarians. It wasn’t in my notes; but it was in my head.

Let me explain, because while number 45 is correct in noting there is fake news, he also uses the term to continue to dupe the dopes and dogs who comprise the base of his support.

Once upon a time there was a profession called journalism. Founding principles included: a compassionate eye for all; a desire to improve society; unflagging devotion to telling a story as fairly and squarely as possible; taking the necessary time to get a story correct; an ability to write clearly and concisely; courage to hold fast to all founding principles and above all else – always be truthful and hold the truth higher than anything else.

From the get-go, journalists have been screwing up. No person is perfect, though we expect our journalists to be perfect when it comes to presenting the truth. But overall, the profession – whether print media, radio or television – was kept in relatively safe hands with varying levels of capable mentorship, until corporate boards overran the world in the mid 1980s.

From that point on, as big money sought to become massive money, newspapers became real estate investments as opposed to… newspapers.

Tabloids were already well entrenched and tended to reap more profits than serious broadsheets, as was clearly seen in Great Britain, and such ‘newspapers’ began to become the norm.

Why tell a detailed, thorough story when the average person, with the reading comprehension skills of a Grade 6 student, only really reads the headline anyway? And boobs! Get ‘em in there! It’s the only way to get the boys to buy!

And hell, considering how well the National Enquirer was doing, newspaper editors found themselves being pressured into ‘tweaking’ stories to make them more interesting. These orders came from up high; not from the journalists.

I tell you this for fact; have seen it in action; have had my own work turned upside down and spun away from the truth by out-of-control, gutless pukes who valued their pay cheques over the truth; the corporate weasels so valued by boards of directors that will one day make them obsolete as well.

A steady march ensued beginning in the mid 1990s whereby ‘newspaper people’ started to be replaced by bean-counters or business management types who sought to squeeze as much out of given markets as possible with the least financial output (or their bosses would roll the crap logs down the ladder on them). This happened at the same time the Internet began encroaching on society.

From then and into the 21st Century, inspired massively by tabloidism, Internet-based bloggers have sprung up, like pimples on a soggy bottom.

And that lot has taken the grey area ‘fake news’ that has been pumped out by media outlets – where a couple of the Ws are right but don’t bank on the rest being squared away – to the point of wailing insanity whereas it is a vast sea of blithering bullshit.

Thanks to the average denseness of a given cross-section of humans, the world of fake news has become ‘mainstream’ while the ‘mainstream media’ has become vilified, mostly by those who think Donald Trump is lord and saviour of the America when it held slaves, attempted genocide on First Nations people and above all else worshipped money and the right to make it with guns in hand, amen.

The modern ‘news sphere’ to many includes: pharmaceutical abusing conspiracy theorists; bloggers with unchecked mental illness; propaganda machines owned by massively powerful lobby groups with deep pockets; marketing tools selling everything but actual news; clickbait nonsense ghouls seeking to buffalo as many as possible; illiterate memes created usually by political or hate groups; humour sites that the naïve believe; vlogs about yada yawn; millions of YouTubers seeking fame and fortune; and something representing every interest group conceivable.

Add all that to the ‘mainstream’ media, rightfully vilified for cutting corners, rushing unverified material out in order to ‘beat the competition’ and tweaking stories to ensure more readers/views/listeners, and I am afraid it is true when Donald Trump’s vast orange pie hole spews “fake news.”

All that said, I believe the current awareness of fake news will lead to a significant repair job in the media world. It will require the public-at-large to demand of the established media operations to do better work.

The shake down from traditional print news delivery to digital has reached the point of no return for those relying on printing presses to sell advertising.

When we started e-KNOW in 2011, I guessed that print media would be “dead in five years.” I was wrong. It is not dead; but the padre has been summoned from home.

A large vacuum is forming all across the world as communities find themselves under-serviced by actual, real media outlets where professionally trained people hold the societal mirror up and chronicle the passage of history, as opposed to angry nitwits with axes to grind who care not a whit about their fellow man.

With each passing year, the old way of doing things will subside and hopefully more online ‘newspapers’ will take root, providing employment for out-of-work journalists and bringing standards back to the point where governments are properly covered and news presentation is again professionally vetted and the truth becomes supreme once again.

Some form of accreditation should be created, and that is likely to come.

It is too late for Donald Trump and his icky ilk. Their views will never change. Imagine how many times Trump has been thoroughly shredded by glaze-eyed hacks who couldn’t stitch two facts together if their shallow lives depended on it. Trump was little Lord Fauntleroy; a rich boy his entire life. He has been in the public eye his entire life; so just think about the volume of factless dreck that has been published/aired about him.

Unfortunately, little Lord Fauntleroy has grown up to become an orange Darth Vader who takes counsel from the likes of this guy and this guy. Because Trump is also the ugly, lazy American personified, things seem perilously bad. And that isn’t fake news. Things are bad; they could get much, much worse as long as a clown educated and inspired by factless nonsense is in charge. The great American tragedy; where a nation’s selfishness and laziness burns it down. And when it is reported, no one will believe it because there will be 2,367 versions of the story.

Another thing Trump has helped inspire is the stampede to trample sexual abusers, fondlers, squeezers, rapists and other foul rat bastards in need of good neuterings or lobbings off cliffs.

Trump’s braggadocio about grabbing any woman’s pussy he wants because he is rich and famous did not resonate with half of America’s voters (wonder which half?) but it seemed to galvanize women and those who have been victimized by sexual predators and the dominos, which perhaps Bill Cosby helped set in motion, began to fall faster and it seems by the week another cad is being paddlewhacked for his sick, soulless behaviour.

And that’s a good thing. Just remember the fake news thing and seek out other sources of information before sharing and furthering the mess created by those who are quite literally anti-journalists; those who share lies for profit (whether financial or political).

Snopes.com is a great place to start if you think BS is afoot, which these days it usually is.

Note: As I publish this Time Magazine has announced the 2017 Person of the Year and it is: The Silence Breakers – those whose voices have launched the movement against sexual harassment.

Sometimes it takes a bad thing, like Donald Trump, to ignite a good movement. I wonder what other movements ole Trumplywumpler will ignite?

In closing, thanks to Stephen Wik for inviting us to address such an august community treasure as the Rotary Club. I hope I didn’t ramble too much.

Another take away from the Rotary Club meeting is confirmation that James Chiu is a powerful and courageous person. His communication to fellow Rotarians Nov. 30 required a humble strength that is rare in today’s world. You got this James; kick its ass.

Ian Cobb is owner/editor of e-KNOW.


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