Fake news to the left, fake news to the right; here we are, stuck in the middle with you
Author: Dan Njegomir - December 22, 2017 - Updated: December 22, 2017
As we prepare to close out 2017, the mania over #FakeNews probably warrants a last hurrah before giving way to 2018’s hottest hashtags. Jason Salzman’s left-leaning media watchdog, The Big Media Blog, has released its “Colorado Fake News Awards 2017” as part of its campaign to call out those on the political right who use social media to share headlines that range from questionable to comical — as if they were gospel.
Salzman, a veteran antagonist of all things GOP, makes no secret of his partisan tilt and, fairly or otherwise, reserves his dubious distinctions for elected Republicans. State Sen. Ray Scott, of Grand Junction gets the “Crusader for a Fact-Free Colorado! Award”; the “Who the F*** Cares about the Facts? Award” is bestowed on House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, and so forth.
Salzman’s choice of offenders notwithstanding — and whether or not they actually realized at least some of their posts lacked veracity — a lot of the content itself is almost worthy of the tabloid rack at your local supermarket:
Scott refused to remove from his Facebook page a fake news item titled, “WikiLeaks CONFIRMS Hillary Sold Weapons to ISIS…Then Drops Another BOMBSHELL! Breaking News.” He also refused to delete a tweet with this ridiculous (and fake) quote from Ronald Reagan about Trump: “For the life of me, and I’ll never know how to explain it, when I met that young man, I felt like I was the one shaking hands with a president.”
Fake is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and some of the content Salzman skewers is arguably more selective than fake. Here’s his criticism of posts on illegal immigration by Colorado Springs Republican state Rep. Dave Williams (for whom illegal-immigration-bashing has indeed become a hobby horse):
… you’d think they were responsible for 83 percent of crimes committed on American soil if you only got your news from the Facebook timeline of state Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colo. Springs). … Williams’ vastly disproportionate focus on immigrant crime deceives his Facebook followers into believing that undocumented immigrants are dangerous, when in reality, they’re more likely to be law-abiding citizens, and may actually cause crime to decline in their communities.
Unrepresentative, maybe, but is it untrue? The specific crime stories Williams chooses to post may well be accurate.
Meanwhile, here’s another question: Does this kind of stuff really have the potential to sway anyone beyond the most marginal voters?
Or, is it no more detrimental to democracy than, say, news of space aliens abducting the Olsen twins?
Come to think of it, we haven’t heard from them in a while.