Opinion: Why fake news is fake news

Stephen D’Abreau

Stephen D'Abreau

For a couple months now, corporate media outlets such as CNN have been pushing this narrative of so called “fake news.”

I hope that most people understand this as a wild goose chase and temper-tantrum from a dying corporate controlled media industry.

National polls have rated “trust in the media” at historic lows. Gallup reports that people reporting they have at least a “fair amount of trust” in the media is at 32 percent, the absolute lowest in Gallup history since they started polling this data in the early 1970s.

Traditional television is also losing viewership as competition from YouTube, Netflix and other entertainment outlets continues to grow. The cellulose newspaper has been dying for years, and this is no new trend.

The media landscape is shifting. Corporations like Comcast and Time Warner are trying to respond to this shift by painting their competitors as unreliable and “fake.”

Of course, actual humans like you and me have known “fake news” by a different name: Clickbait. It is the cyber yellow journalism with all the authenticity of “hot singles in YOUR area looking to hook up” whose stories don’t stand up to the scrutiny of when you just Google it.

Anyone who understands the internet knows the typical scams and shams, and while they can cause problems when the headlines circulate around Twitter or Facebook, they die out quick.

My annoyance at some Facebook friend’s grandma reposting an Onion article as if it is a fact, is neither groundbreaking journalism from CNN, nor is the type of thing that brings forth any new world order or change in the tides.

What people weren’t prepared for is Clickbait and salacious gossip being picked up by major networks. When CNN, an established bulwark of televised journalism, starts talking about a president-elect being caught with Russian prostitutes in a story with no corroborated evidence for such claim – a story that literally came from Buzzfeed – people simply stop trusting the media networks.

When The Huffington Post predicts a 98.2 percent likelihood of a Hillary Clinton victory, people start to wonder if they are being lied to, or if the Huffington Post actually doesn’t know as much as readers think. I watched CNN for election night coverage, but was able to see Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos call states over social media for the president-elect a full hour before CNN did.

In summation, what I’m really saying is the narrative of “fake news” is actually, well, fake news. Clickbait has been around for a long time; sure it’s annoying, but it’s not new or as dangerous as many are trying to paint it.

The issue I see is that the media networks are less concerned with facts and journalism, and more concerned with creating, pushing and maintaining narratives, like the “fake news” narrative. They have lowered their standards to that of Buzzfeed and Breitbart, now wondering why they command the authority befitting such an organization.

I hope the next generation of journalists and writers can bring integrity back to the networks, because anyone who claims that the networks haven’t lost their credibility is pushing a narrative. That’s the real fake news.

Stephen D’Abreau is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]