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OBAMA’S COMPLAINT: FAKE NEWS THREATENS DEMOCRACY

Published: November 18, 2016
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Soon to be private citizen Barack Obama is worried about “fake news” on Facebook, especially when it disputes climate change.

Obama told The New Yorker non-corporate produced media “means everything is true and nothing is true … An explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll. And the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal—that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation.”

It’s a bummer. Large and growing numbers of people refuse to believe what the government and its on-payroll experts demand we accept as unvarnished truth.

“Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” said Obama. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”

Facebook wasn’t around when the Bush neocons used corporate media to spread lies about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The New York Times and its propaganda specialist, Judith Miller, sold the invasion with a pack of lies. No mention of this in Obama’s little tirade. The lies and fabrications cooked up by a cabal of neocons that resulted in the murder of a million and a half people and destroyed a nation are not considered propaganda, merely an “intelligence failure.”

The damage produced by neocon lies “is not limited only to adoption of whatever policies the manipulators are promoting. The substantial lingering misconceptions among the public make for broader damage. The persistent mistaken beliefs among more than a third of Americans about Iraq and al-Qaeda greatly inhibit public understanding about terrorism, about the Middle East, and about how their own government has operated,” writes Paul R. Pillar for The National Interest.

The Washington Post decries the “post-truth” era and says Facebook has a problem.

“One thing readers can do is to read what they’re sharing, and after that if you read something and have a strong reaction to it, read more about it, rather than just accept what you originally read as complete information,” Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, told the newspaper.

Good idea. But not one encouraged when corporate media had an iron grip over the dissemination of news. If it appeared on the pages of the Times or Post, or aired over CNN and the alphabet networks, it was considered truth. Prior to the internet, it was difficult to counter establishment propaganda, misinformation, and lies.

It’s going to be difficult for Democrats in a Republican dominated Congress to reintroduce some kind of “fairness doctrine” to combat news that deviates from the propaganda put out by establishment. Prior to Obama’s complaint, Democrats were saying so-called climate deniers should be prosecuted.

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