Fake News

Fake News 

By Patrick F. Cannon

I think we can define “fake news” as news we don’t want to hear. President Trump hears a lot of it, which makes me wonder why he just doesn’t turn off his television sets and cancel his subscriptions to the New York Times, Washington Post and National Enquirer.

I should have thought – like most of his dwindling list of supporters – he would limit himself to Fox News and the more reliable right wing commentators like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and the reliably annoying Ann Coulter (although some of them have begun to wonder what they have wrought). But he seems to revel in wallowing in every news report about himself as a means of seizing many more opportunities to yell “fake news!”

In a way, I suppose you have to give him credit for watching and listening to news outlets that cover him closely (I doubt if he himself actually reads anything). Most of his supporters don’t want to read or hear anything that might cast doubt on their beliefs and opinions. One hears endless complaints about the New York Times and Washington Post being biased in their coverage of the President; this from people who probably have never read either of them.

If you get your news exclusively from either Fox or MSNBC, supplemented on the radio by the loudhailers of the right and left, your view of the world will be narrow and incomplete. Unfortunately, the numbers of people who regularly read a daily newspaper continues to decline. A common complaint posits that newspapers can’t be trusted because all journalists have a liberal bias. Certainly, more journalists tend to be politically liberal than conservative.

I have been reading newspapers for more than 60 years. The only one I now read every day is the Chicago Tribune, but over the years I have also regularly read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.  All of these venerable institutions have made mistakes in their coverage, some grievous. But each generally strives to get the facts straight and publish them in a coherent manner in their hard news columns. The editorial and opinion pages are just that and readers understand that the publisher may use them to express one view or another. As it happens, both the Tribune and Journal have conservative bents, while the Times is reliably liberal. All of them, however, give opinion space to alternative views.

Publishing a daily newspaper is an expensive business. Dwindling advertising and circulation revenue have put many out of business and caused almost all to tighten their belts. As they go away, there is no one left to do the digging that other media depend upon for their own coverage. Do you really think the network news programs do all of their own reporting? In any event, how much news can you possibly cover in 20 minutes once a day? And local television news is mostly a joke. By the time they cover the weather and promote their network’s entertainment shows, they have very little time left to cover real news, even if they actually know what it is.

So, people need to ask themselves this question when they complain about the media – just exactly who is the biased one here?


Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon




3 thoughts on “Fake News

  1. You are right. Every news outlet has a political bias. And presidents rarely enjoy critical coverage. Obama despised Fox News and anyone, for that matter, who disagreed with him. Trump would like to pull the plug on CNN and MSNBC. Like much of academia and the entertainment industry, the media, based in left-leaning New York City and Washington DC, is overwhelmingly liberal in its politics. That’s just a fact. I’m not sure Trump is especially conservative (National Review and Weekly Standard don’t think so). But he has more vocal enemies on the left than on the right, and they seem to have a louder voice in the so-called mainstream media.

    The media, for its part, has become a major form of entertainment and marketing. The reason is obviously money. Whether print media or electronic, they need to sell not only their product but advertising for an audience, preferably a younger audience. And they sell through entertainment to an entertainment-addicted population. Even the WSJ now covers sports and movies, and has regular sections devoted to human interest stories and features on relationships, fashion, cooking and the like. So it should come as no surprise to see media outlets push stories about conspiracies, gossip, corruption and the ever-popular good vs evil melodrama. it’s good theater.

    We live in an age of expediency and subjectivity, where absolute truths are regarded with skepticism if not derision. In politics there is no compass, and Trump will go with conviction a whim of iron in any direction that works for him. In this, he is like most people, and that may be why they elected him!

    As for me, I usually gloss over the news and go to the opinion columns on both sides of the spectrum for information. There I can find more thorough analysis and can better judge issues on the force of the respective arguments. If I’m reading a lot of rhetorical narrative, speculation and appeal to emotions, I can sense the writer is faking it. Maybe that’s the benefit of studying literature. When you see fiction, you know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I see reporting and hear media opinions everyday about Trump, always attempting to be professional and of value to their listeners. Sorry, but that’s just really dumb.
    Trump operates from a truly separate and faraway universe of beliefs. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about being professional. He has no familiar behavior patterns that our quiver of arrows can ever, ever hope to target and hit. We should be dealing with him on the level he’s in: subterranean thinking that only requires animosity, overconfidence to the point of delusion of grandeur, and such heartless, cold, amazing understanding of his audience that enables him to manipulate them with ease and flair – not dissimilar to the very clever, horrific and sick mind of Adolf Hitler. All the words in print and coming from the mouths of the talking heads continue to be an incredible waste of time. Someone with power needs to fight against him, getting the dirt on him big time and putting it out there where his audience is – in cold, hard, basic words that anyone can follow, anyone like Joe the Plumber, not this flowery careful prose that journalists use and rely on.
    Until we realize that he is not one of us but instead might be the worst of us, and already has the power we’ve given him, we’re doomed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What you say about Trump is true. I can assure you that the liberal media is spending every waking hour (and maybe in their dreams too) investigating every possible way to bring him down. They are, as they should be, restrained from actually just making it up as he does. If he’s ever impeached, tried and removed from office, it will be because his transgression will be so great even Republicans will be forced to abandon him, just as they abandoned Nixon. In the meantime, the media will keep digging, as will the FBI. And he will be restrained by both the Congress and the courts. Notice even he has not defied the courts. By the way, his die hard supporters will not abandon him, just as Nixon’s did not. But they will dwindle.



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