‘Fake news’ from ‘enemies’ who ‘don’t love our country’

One hundred and sixty billion dollars in estimated damages as I write, more than three times the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Gasoline prices up at least a dime a gallon here in Grand Junction when I filled up last Thursday, just a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, and surely headed higher due to storm impacts on 25 percent of the nation’s refinery capacity.

Dozens confirmed dead. Up to 1 million cars destroyed. Schools on hold. More than 80 percent of the homes in Houston’s Harris County without flood insurance. Explosions and toxic fires rock a chemical plant.

Death and destruction all along the southern coast of Texas.

Not to worry. It must be “fake news.” From “biased” reporters and outlets.

Where do those who buy into the “fake news” fairytale go to vicariously share the horrific experiences of millions of residents of the nation’s sixth-largest city and surrounding areas? Despite the blathering of those working hard to diminish the stature of the news media, we’re all riveted to our televisions and anxiously awaiting our morning paper to stay informed.

We look in the same places we all go to learn what’s going on in Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world. To the same sources we seek out to find out what our city council and county commissioners, our local cops and first responders, our school boards and drainage districts are up to.

To reports by the same “enemies” who “don’t love our country” and deserve to be targeted at political rallies and called out in news conferences for pointing out actual “fake news” perpetrated by those calling them out.

You’ve heard their “real news” about former President Obama’s birth certificate. Some argue that those planes didn’t bring down the Twin Towers, that planted explosives were responsible. Science may be right about the eclipse but most of the world’s scientists are dead wrong about climate change and vaccinations.

Fortunately, there are still real journalists going to work every day, trying hard to put aside their own feelings and report the facts despite critics who prefer that news about current events conform to their own selective politics or morality.

They’re wading through floodwaters in south Texas today, dodging bullets on battlefields around the world, fighting to stay awake in legislative hearings and city council meetings, getting up in the middle of the night when a scanner barks or the phone rings and rushing out to a local emergency. They’re helping you celebrate your kids’ successes in the classroom or on the athletic field, telling you when your favorite performers are coming to town and keeping you posted on other events of interest in your own backyard.

Much has been made of the changing news environment — of the move toward getting our news digitally rather than getting our hands smudged with ink on flimsy paper or having to plan our lives around TV schedules. You may be surprised at how those of you devoted to the world’s most popular social media platform, learn about the world around you.

It may not always be obvious but a recent study revealed that the biggest source of stories appearing on Facebook is a 171-year-old traditional source, The Associated Press. Breaking news, political stories and celebrity news from my alma mater generate 35 million “engagements” (likes, comments, etc.) every month.

You may not always be aware of the AP is the source. That’s because its history is largely as a wholesaler (the “assembly line of journalism” I used to call it with a mixture of awe and derision). Much of the national and international news you see here in the Sentinel, on CNN and other networks, originates as an Associated Press story.

It’s good to know that, even in a digital age that gives a whole new meaning to immediacy, a media organization with real reporters, editors and fact-checkers is a primary source of our information.

Facts are real. Fantasy is fake. It’s not too hard to tell the difference, if we’re honest with ourselves, regardless of our personal biases.

“We don’t go into journalism to be popular. It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers.”

— Helen Thomas, longtime United Press International White House reporter

 

During a lifetime of media work, Jim Spehar spent a dozen years with the Associated Press. Comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


COMMENTS

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Mr. Spehar is quite correct.  The problem is that most don’t even know what this country, or what any civilized society is all about.  It is about something which most do not want to see or admit to.  It is about human beings and humanity, something which many choose to ignore instead of some superlative.  In other words, they would much rather concentrate on that, than on what should demand their attention, and on a daily basis.  What is wrong in this country is that far too many have become accustomed to superlatives which is a sign of decline (and a nation or society hollowing itself out from within) and not progress.

Some claim that they want to be “great”. Well, that is nothing more than wanting to be considered “great”, either in how they view themselves or how they at viewed by others. That is not only pride, but arrogance. Those are the ones who measure their “love of country” (or lack of) by how many flags are flown or how frequently and loudly they sing some patriotic song or recite some patriotic sounding mantra like the “pledge of allegiance”.  Those who don’t do that, they consider “unpatriotic”, or at the very least, not as “patriotic” as they believe themselves to be.  Such individuals are not actually patriotic by ultra-nationalists.

Those paying close attention to what people say they are for and how they really act, will find that those are all too frequently at odds.  While they may say (and actually preach)“Love thy neighbor”, and by their actions, clearly show that they can’t stand human beings.  They claim that they believe in “human equality” but do so with qualifications.  “Yes, I believe in human equality, but (because of this or that)I am superior to those “others”.  That is someone who does not really understand or accept the concept of human equality. Otherwise, they would know better than attempt to qualify it in any way.

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