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):
Back in the mid 1990’s, I was sent by the Air Force Academy to the University of Michigan to pursue a Ph.D., after which I returned to the USAFA faculty to continue teaching. During that grad school stint, we chose to live in a small town about 45 minutes north of Ann Arbor. We enjoyed the small town atmosphere, including Fourth of July parades with lots of tractors and summer youth concerts in the town square. And thank you, kindly tax payers, for affording me that opportunity. It was great!
It played a significant role in our last presidential election, possibly swaying the result. It’s easily spread far and wide on social media platforms. It’s even often used by President Donald Trump to fire back at media outlets after negative press. It’s become a buzzword in our modern politics. Fake news.
Experts argue media literacy is the answer to countering misleading content. Now, the Denver Public Library is joining the fight against fake news — offering classes to help students build the literacy skills required to consume media and cull out what’s fake.
Appropriately called How to Spot Fake News and offered through the library’s reference services, the course will arm students with tricks and tools for looking at websites, news articles “and their crazy uncle’s emails with a more critical eye.”
In designing the course, the library will use tools from the International Federation of Library Associations including an infographic, based on a FactCheck.org article, with tips for spotting misleading news.
“Fake news and other misinformation spreads because people share it without realizing what it is,” the library said in a post on the City of Denver website. “That means the only way to stop it is to learn to spot it, so we can stop it in its tracks instead of helping it spread.”
The library is offering instruction in the classroom or at the Central Library and even the lesson plan to educators. Email Robin Filipczak for more information.
After news broke this week that three CNN reporters had been fired because of problems with a story about Donald Trump and Russia, former Republican Colorado Sen. Shawn Mitchell entertained the notion in a social media post that "the guillotines will be kept busy" taking care of "hack reporters and seditious leakers" if there's karmic justice in the world, though he later said he was just kidding.
A political quarrel erupted earlier this month, garnering the attention of national media, after a state Republican lawmaker accused his hometown newspaper of publishing “fake news” and was subsequently threatened with a lawsuit.
At the center of the fray: Sen. Ray Scott, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the delay of a hearing for Senate Bill 40, which would update the state’s open records law.
Scott told The Colorado Statesman that as chair of the state Senate’s Veteran and Military Affairs committee, he was asked for the delay to address security concerns brought forth by legislators and a "substantial list" of public entities.