October 25, 2017

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The Twisted Truth: Fake News, Media, and Government

GETTY IMAGES VIA CNBC 

“Did you hear? Suzie told Joe that… and then Linda and Carrie… Oh my gosh, I can’t believe he did that!” Juicy gossip, exaggerated stories, slanderous lies. You would think it does not extend beyond the tanbark of the playground, but false information has made its way into the trusted institutions of the U.S. President Donald Trump claims to oppose fake news in the media, as shown through his prominent status as a notorious tweeter: “FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!” His petulant complaints attempt to redirect the spotlight away from the White House’s blunders and falsified facts.

 

Despite being a main source of the fake news, the White House has taken measures to work towards what they believe is resolving the issue of “Fake News” in the media. Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, raised many eyebrows when he chose to ban certain journalist organizations from his off-the-record briefings. Multiple journalist groups who report accurate information (e.g. CNN, New York Times, Politico) were banned for unnamed reasons. However, Spicer made sure to allow numerous conservative-leaning outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart into these behind-doors conversations. Also relevant to the matters of selectively choosing what is released to the public, President Trump recently rejected a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report on the “Muslim ban”. The rejection is credited to the reason that the DHC’s report did not support the claim of this ban ensuring national security.

 

Decisions such as these suggest a lack of respect for the valued American ideal of freedom of the press. If the American people only have access to only one bias’ view of a situation, how are we to holistically assess the validity of the situation? The dangers of relying solely on the words of the government are demonstrated in the ban of issuance of Visas to several countries in the Middle East and Africa. President Trump has justified this temporary ban because of the idea of “radical Islamic terrorists” and the 9/11 attacks. This extreme stereotype is completely unsupported by the facts. In the past 16 years, only twelve refugees and eight illegal immigrants have been involved in domestic terrorism. Since 1975, there have been zero Americans killed by Syrian refugee terrorist attacks in the U.S. In fact according to the Cato Institute, you have a 1 in 3.6 Billion chance of dying in a refugee terrorist attack. These numbers are starkly contrasted by the 190 U.S.-born citizens that were involved in domestic terror attacks since 2001 alone. Incorrectly reported statistics and misinformed people and incorrectly reported statistics have greatly contributed to fears such as xenophobia, and in turn, the growing divide in American politics.

 

It is crucial for people to evaluate the credentials and bias of sources and their authors in order to seek the truth for themselves. Words from the media should be taken with a grain of salt, but accuracy and freedom of the press enables it to be a light that exposes the truth. When the government and media show heavy bias and manipulate reality to achieve their personal agenda, it is the facts that will act as the light to expose the raw, unaltered truth.

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