The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Real "Fake News"

As Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media continue to rail against "Fake News," suggesting that all news be "curated" so that crazy stuff never reaches the broad citizenry, it's worth considering exactly what "fake news" really is. Despite their contention that "fake news" originates in the fever swamp of right-wing (or for that matter, left-wing) conspiracy nuts, that's not the problem at all. I contend that the real "fake news' comes from what are normally considered reliable sources:
  • An administration that spins economic data to serve its political needs (think: the celebration of an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent when a labor participation rate is at historic highs and millions are under-employed.
  • Government agencies that aggressively hide information that has been legally requested via FOIA or suggest that high level policy, when uncovered, is merely "confusion" by low level functionaries (think: the IRS scandal of the past three years.
  • A State Department that knowingly falsifies intelligence data to mislead the public for political purposes (think: the Benghazi terrorist attack)
  • Regulatory agencies that knowingly suppress information that might unsettle the public or threaten the products of companies they regulate (think: the dishonest manner in which Standard & Poor's or Moody's rated CDOs just prior to the crash of 2008)
  • Media organizations that do everything possible to relabel domestic terrorist attacks as something else (think: the Fort Hood attack)
  • Congressional leaders who blatantly lie about an opposition candidate and then have those lies promulgated by media allies without so much as a critical evaluation of their truth (think: Harry Reid's provably false 2012 statement that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes, trumpeted by "reliable" news outlets like the NYT, WaPo and CNN)
All of that (and much more) are "fake news" but because the source is "reliable" that doesn't count.

Richard Fernandez comments on the inherent dangers of "fake news" that comes from  "reliable" sources:
... The most dangerous fake news may not be the stuff churned out by Macedonian teenagers but that promulgated by official sources. "China’s statistics chief admits some economic data are false," according to the Financial Times. ... The Chinese economic miracle, like Obamacare, the recovery of the last 8 years and "smart foreign policy" may be less impressive than it's cracked up to be.

The possibility that data is being manipulated not only by China but even by the West was raised by the political disasters which met Clinton and Brexit. After all, they based their strategies on "real news" and that information led them to the crash. How much of what we think is true is fake; what proportion of our portfolio of Hope is real if even Hillary can be fooled? Just how completely they were snookered is exemplified by Lawrence O'Donnell who genuinely perplexed at Hillary Clinton's loss, argued that America had been steadily going up, up, up when SUDDENLY everyone decided on Nov 8, 2016 to cut their own throats and betray their best interests. He expressed the hope that Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris will restore the electorate to sanity in 2020 ...

Nowhere does he explain why, if people's lives had indeed been going up, up, up -- in Brexiteer Europe, in Trump America -- voters should have suddenly decided to commit collective hara-kiri unless the world has been seized by madness. What must have happened was people were in actual despair, reeling under falling incomes but that fact was undetected by the elite until they rudely discovered it via the ballot box ...

When the best informed establishment figures wreck their careers by relying on "real news" it raises the possibility that public policy and economic management is based upon a information corrupted by years of political manipulation. It would be like an airline pilot realizing, as he is hurtling down the runway, that the view through the windshield was a matte painting and not real. That means the world could potentially be flying blind with jagged terrain just beneath it without anyone knowing how close it is because we have filtered it out.

That is intolerably dangerous. The facts are necessary for safety. They are necessary for survival. We must learn how to face the truth again and calculate upon it, however hard and ugly it may be. No more Narratives. Never again should we have Narratives, either of the Left or Right variety.
Hillary Clinton is correct in her claim that "fake news" cost her the election. It's just that the fake news she should be talking about comes from "reliable" sources. In fact, it may have been the manner in which Donald Trump broke through the prevailing narratives that won him the election. Too many people in too many states recognized that they were being fed "fake news" about the economy and jobs, about immigration, about middle eastern immigrants, about trade, about Islamic terror, about foreign policy, and about health care. Those same people pushed back against the "fake news," and the result was an election upset of epic proportions.