As Fake News Is Increasingly Not Being Bought Into, Painstaking Newspapers & Websites Are Benefiting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Co-founder David Mikkelson of snopes.com, one of the main debunkers of fake news 

Fake-news seems to be the only hard-news topic on American news channels these days. Our poster Hopeful said this about it last Thursday:

Fake news, a dreadful new trend. It makes slanted news stories seem tame in comparison with outright lies. Believe only half of what you read, stay cautious and consider the source. That will be my new mantra.

Hopeful is far from alone, it seems. Particularly in the financial industries professionals just cant risk betting on what might be myth-making. Fox News long blamed as a main cause of it is moving to a new place under the sons of Rupert Murdoch.

And the New York Times as the American newspaper of record (it is usually huge, if you havent seen a paper version) which most of the time strives for extreme carefulness is seeing a bonanza in its newspaper and online-subscriptions. This is a report by the influential Seeking Alpha investment site.

Fake News Will Boost The New York Times by Duane Bair

Apparently, in the year 2016, an alarming number of Americans are unable to decipher the difference between obscure conspiracy theories and actual world events.

While I won’t comment on how profoundly sad that statement reads, it is worth discussing its impact on traditional media. The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) remains the most read and one of the most respected news outlets in the country.

With such high levels of uncertainty regarding basic facts, Americans are increasingly turning to media brands they know and trust. The years of declining revenue may finally begin to reverse as the new normal in political discourse emerges.

The Oxford dictionary named ‘post truth’ as the word of the year for 2016. Anyone tuning into recent world events can immediately understand the context of that decision. With the seeming explosion of “fake news” and little to no desire by social media companies to rein it in, traditional media may grow in stock as it has maintained a relatively solid reputation for fact-based reporting.

In an attempt for higher ratings, many traditional media networks and newspaper have stepped into dangerous territory, by giving voice to untrustworthy sources that regularly misinform. Many in the public have been able to recognize this phenomenon. The select news outlets that resisted are being rewarded with massive subscription bumps.

As other news outlets continue to cut costs and eliminate high expense in-depth journalism, The New York Times is investing in this space. Readers are noticing and subscribing to the times while abandoning some peers. Subscribers are longer lasting and reflect a more positive outlook than simple viewer gains that are inevitable in the lead up to an election.

Over the next four years, we are likely to see an onslaught of misinformation from formerly fringe elements of the media. If the 2016 campaign period was any indication, the next few years will likely see a blurring between uncontested facts and skewed innuendo.

A recent Buzzfeed poll (don’t worry, the methodology is sound) of 3,105 respondents found that 75% of regular news consumers were unable to distinguish a fake news story from the truth. The new administration may, in part, be adding to the confusion.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/14/16 at 03:39 AM in


Comments

“Fake news” has been around for centuries. It is nothing new. Roman histories are full of “fake news” by authors who had axes to grind in one way or another. What is new is that people have found they can make a profit from it on the internet (rags like the National Enquirer and other sensationalist tree-wasters have been doing this in print for years.

Guicciardini’s history of Italy is also full of “gonzo journalism”, but Giucciardini has a good tendency to clearly state his opinions.

Most people don’t know how to handle the crap on the internet. Since the days of Compuserve, fake ‘chain emails’ have circulated far and wide and many people likely believed the fiction purported in them.

There are ‘fact-check’ sites like Snopes, but they are not exhaustive and too few. The first step is always to confirm a story against other sources, to carefully consider the premise of the story and to weigh its reasonableness.

Pete’s links to the PPP poll is a glimpse into what I’ve suspected for some time. People cite ridiculous sites like Breitbart or Infowars or nutty left-wing sites as reliable sources. All garbage.

I try to refer to mainstream sources that are as neutral as possible. Christian Science Monitor, the BBC, the Economist, il Sole 24 Ore, Corriere della Sera, have been reasonable sources for me that don’t have obvious political leanings. I also tend to check domestic and international sources. Google news is a convenient way to do that by just doing title scanning.

One should always try to go to the source, or to the reporting closest to the event. Many times, cited documents are misinterpreted or incorrectly emphasized (especially scientific ones.) If you’re relying on a report of a report of a report, you’re likely not getting the complete or even correct picture.

Everything on the internet needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I disregard just about everything posted by others on Facebook. If I see an interesting title or meme, I always try to triple-check it in some fashion. Otherwise I just scroll past.

That said, just because a reporter, has an agenda or acts stupidly on occasion doesn’t automatically disqualify all of his or her work.

Posted by Olleosnep on 12/14/16 at 03:47 PM | #

Very interesting Olleosnep. As the Wiki and TJMK reach critical mass (result of thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of translations) main media should turn to being our very good ally. Heads of journalism schools too. And the outfits that do fact-checking - like this one.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/real-time/Penn-based-FactCheckorg-partnering-with-Facebook-to-expose-fake-news.html

Facebook of course has carried its share of fake news on the case. That could use some spring cleaning.

For the record the box at the top of the page reads thus:

Headsup: Fraud Knox lies again about “interrogation”. There was zero interrogation  that night, nobody hit or yelled at Knox, as admitted at trial she was treated well and she insisted on writing all 3 “confession” statements.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/15/16 at 07:04 PM | #

12/16/16 Daily Mail online headline: “Amanda Knox pens essay claiming ‘women confess to crimes under police interrogation because they are conditioned to please men’ “. 

Knox cites the case of Melissa Calusenski, a former daycare worker, who was sentenced to 31 years in prison for the death of a 16-month-old boy. Calusenski confessed after a grueling 9 hour interrogation.

Knox says the public will blame women whenever a child dies due to unspoken code that women are natural caretakers.

Knox cites other cases, and claims women are more likely than men to have false memories implanted in their minds.

Daily Mail says “now Amanda Knox is writing on behalf of female convicts whose confessions were coaxed under circumstances that are in dispute.”

The article is accompanied by a 2013 photo of Knox with long hair, wearing a peach colored blouse.

And before I saw this, I was starting to have a rather jolly holiday. Meredith’s approaching late December birthday was also coming to mind. Knox times her trumpet blasts to distract from all things Meredith.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/16/16 at 01:28 PM | #

Knox writes - “According to the National Registry of Exonerations, women represent 11 per cent of exonerees involving a false confession compared to 9 per cent of exonerees overall. This may suggest that women are slightly more likely to be convicted of a crime they did not commit based on a false confession”

2 per cent more likely than men? Hardly a solid foundation for the hypothesis that women are more likely to make a false confession particularly when compared to the obvious statistic that men must constitute 89 per cent of exonerees involving a false confession.

Posted by James Raper on 12/17/16 at 12:09 AM | #

Hi Hopeful

Just see it as a diversion from finding “the real murderer”!

Hi James.

Great point. We actually have a category for this in the right column - false memory - last added to by Chimera responding to Knox’s lengthy false claims in her book.  Take a look. We’ll repeat one post.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C844/

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/17/16 at 02:04 AM | #

Breaking: Yes, advocate Francesco Maresca will be in court to represent the Kerchers at Rudy Guede’s appeal hearing in Florence December 20. We can look forward to his insights as well.

Posted by Ergon on 12/17/16 at 08:55 AM | #

Re: Knox claims hers was a coerced confession and cites women who were likewise bullied by interrogators. Odd that she doesn’t mention that after a day of rest and reflection in lockup, she then wrote a note standing by her supposedly coerced accusation of Lumumba which placed her at the crime scene. Nobody had bamboo shoots under her fingernails at that point when she wrote the note for police.

There is a silhouette of Knox’s inner thoughts in the cases she wants to write about and focus on. First of all she chooses young females roughly the age Knox was when Meredith was killed, 18-20 years old. Knox picks for her examples of poor victim villains one white, one black, and four Latino and lesbian. Is Knox in solidarity with the marginalized?

Knox discusses:

Melissa Calusinski, young daycare worker who confessed to slamming baby Ben Kingan to the ground in a fit of frustration. Ben was first thought to have died from skull fracture. That X-ray plus Melissa’s confession led to guilty verdict; but the child was a head banger and there were complicating circumstances that led to an appeal.
We know Meredith’s head was hit against a wall.

Sabrina Butler, black woman from Mississippi (murderpedia claims she was borderline mentally retarded which complicated an assessment of her, but now I see she is supposedly writing lucid articles and helping innocent causes?? a great IQ shift upward).

Sabrina was 17 years old at the incident, 18 when convicted of killing her 9-month-old son Walter Dean Butler.

Murderpedia.org describes her as borderline mentally retarded, but the site FindACase/SABRINA BUTLER which details Sabrina Butler vs. State of Mississippi is worth looking at. It discusses how Sabrina lied to police from the very beginning. Like Knox.

Sabrina invented a story of a non-existent babysitter, who even had a fictitious son who brought the news to Sabrina that the baby had died.(echo of Oh, it was all somebody else’s fault, a la Patrick)

When police investigated and found no such person as Ester Hollis in Sabrina’s apartment complex, Ester the imagined babysitter to corroborate her story, Sabrina confessed that she had lied to them out of fear.

Then she proceeded to spin another yarn for them and later another one, then amended that version, up to 3 or 4 stories. Only in the final one she admitted to slamming the baby’s stomach once with her fist when he wouldn’t stop crying, then giving him Tylenol mixed in a bottle of milk. He was brought to hospital D.O.A. with internal injuries; peritonitis had already set in.

Sabrina’s exoneration status now has her working for the innocent on death row. (raised eyebrow here)

We know Knox invented Patrick Lumumba’s involvement in a crime scene he was nowhere near and that Knox kept amending her stories.

Knox also incorporates the dreadful and confused case of “The San Antonio Four”: Ramirez, Rivera, Vasquez, and Mayhugh.

Elizabeth Ramirez, age 19, had two nieces aged 7 and 9. The girls stayed with her and her lesbian friends for a week. The girls later told their grandmother of sexual assaults upon them in which they were held down by wrist and ankle while the women did things to them in a tequila-fueled orgy.

On the defense side and I think rightly so, but who can be sure, the girls’ stories were inconsistent and should have been dismissed. Worse still: two years earlier they had also accused someone else of sexual assault!? Their father Xavier who had been rebuffed in his many efforts to romance Ms. Ramirez, had a history of accusing others of sexual assault. His bitter resentment of Ramirez and a desire to destroy her and her lesbian friends was probably the culprit in this miscarriage of justice, if it was one.

The accusations of the San Antonio Four came amid a satanic ritual panic in the U.S. fueled by prosecutions of child care workers in the 80s and 90s, particularly the California McMartin preschool case.

So the San Antonio Four case smacked of homophobic revulsion as well as claims of satanic ritual abuse. The satanic and Halloween theories were also considered in the attack on Meredith Kercher. Meredith had been held by her wrists, as Rudy’s bloody fingerprints on her blue jogging suit sleeve attest.

Well, these are the cases Knox wants to talk about: victim hit in head, victim hit in stomach, female victims held down and raped and all the defendants found innocent at last. Did all those things happen to Meredith, for instance hit in head, hit in stomach, held down by more than one assailant?

Knox’s article about women confessing to crimes to please male police interrogators, see 2 comments on it in Daily Mail:

Malaga, Spain
“Let’s not confuse her (Amanda Knox) with a person that does not tell lies.”

London, UK
“oh please…she’s had all this time to think and now comes up with this pc rot to explain her confusion”

Posted by Hopeful on 12/17/16 at 10:27 AM | #

Regarding the 4 in Houston, they got exonerated. Strange is that the second niece did not recanted, she just denied to witness on the appeal. Strange is also, that the femal gynecologist recanted her findings after years. Doctors use to be neutral. The role of the father is also strange. Why let her daughters with Ramirez? There are surly doubts, so exonaration is ok. There are even more pro and contra doubts.  But that case got solved and has nothing to do with the murderess Knox, it seems to me.

Posted by Elisa on 12/17/16 at 10:39 PM | #


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