Beware of fake news and biased reporting

In December 2016, a screenwriter named Edgar Welch read online that Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in Washington D.C., was harboring young children as part of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton. Welch believed the false conspiracy theory and took it upon himself to visit Comet Ping Pong, unleashing an AR-15 rifle on the workers there. By some miracle, no one was hurt and the police arrested him. He was snookered by fake news.

In the U.K. a post on Facebook purported that places of worship are exempt from council tax—but only if the worshippers are Muslim. The post claims followers of Islam who use their living areas as a place to pray do not need to pay council tax. The image attached to the post shows a copy of the petition dated 2013. The fake story was finally expunged in 2018 when the House of Commons officially stated, “It is not possible for owners of domestic property to avoid council tax by claiming that their property, or part of it, is used for religious purposes.”

Fake news is completely false information, photos, or videos purposefully created and spread to confuse or misinform. Not surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter are the two main conduits for the spread of fake news. Fake news is not a new nemesis (consider supermarket tabloids that have been published for decades), but the internet has allowed it to increase exponentially.

I think most of my readers are astute enough to recognize and reject fake news, but many of us may be inordinately swayed by biased reporting in which a news source does report facts (or selected facts) but presents them in a biased way such that the reader is intentionally manipulated toward a certain persuasion. 

That’s why I never watch FOX or MSNBC news channels. Though they may not promulgate fake news, I find their biased reporting to be misleading. If you get a steady diet of either source, you’ll eventually be swayed to an extreme position. CNN and NBC are slightly left of center but are more careful about the stories they choose to report and how they present them. 

Here’s a good article on how to recognize a fake news story.

Here’s a graphic showing the ideological leaning of familiar news sources.

[reminder]What are your thoughts about this essay?[/reminder]


10 Replies to “Beware of fake news and biased reporting”

  1. You state, “Here’s a graphic showing the ideological leaning of familiar news sources.” Yet, unless I am mistaken, the graphic displays the ideological placement of each news source’s AUDIENCE – which is different.
    CNN may have a more mainstream audience, but that does not make them more mainstream in terms of the stories they present. Anyone who looks at CNN’s stories on a daily basis knows that they are relentless in their criticism of Trump and have on more than one occasion had a huge negative Trump scoop that turned out to be false. Anyone with a “steady diet” of CNN would not, in my opinion, see both sides of the story. In contrast, Fox’s opinion people are very biased, but (in my opinion) the Fox News coverage is much more balanced than the other major networks.
    If you want accurate news, read the Wall Street Journal.

    1. Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to write. You’re right about the graphic, though I think the way it was developed indicates the tenor of the source. Liberals are not going to watch Fox news and conservatives are not going to read the New Yorker, so I think the structure of the graphic does speak. I enjoy reading the WSJ; I read the Sunday New York Times.

  2. Enjoy your topics !! This one is political- I believe that CNN & NBC is out of touch – I’m a Fox fan – I cannot go withCNN -NBC pro abortion thoughts & constant Russia hits on President Trump; Fake news comes from the Washington swamp:

  3. I prefer One America News, OAN. Their news story are pretty straight ahead and they also have right of center commentary shows.

      1. One America News Network is on cable. On Verison Fios they are 616.
        If you google it, it will tell you the various stations on Direct TV, etc.

  4. While it’s not listed, “Good Morning America” (an ABC program) is ridiculously biased (left). I watched the show for years, but a year ago, quit watching. Couldn’t tolerate it any longer. To show I’m not bashing ABC, I do watch “ABC Nightly News” (David Muir)-excellent 30 minute news of the day.

    As far as your recommendation of CNN, I’ll just say I refer to it as the “Communist News Network”.

    1. Hi Brian; thanks for taking the time to write. I’ve not watched ABC. Your comment about CNN underscores my point that most news sources are biased.

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