‘Who decides what’s fake news and what isn’t?’
When you consider what comprises fake news… do you ponder, for example, reports that there were weapons of mass destruction? Or is that flawed news? Lionel, legal and media analyst discusses the matter with RT.
The term “fake news” once used by US President Donald Trump has become a well-known term. It even might make its way into a dictionary. On Sunday night the CBS 60 Minutes program looked into the issue.
RT: What are your thoughts on the way they covered fake news?
Lionel: First of all, this has nothing to do with fake news, this is about censorship. This is a label that is being used, which ultimately seeks to quash…and to stop any voices – whether it is alternative, foreign, citizen journalism – anything that they consider to be not real. I am a lawyer and I love the definitions. What is ‘fake?’ ‘Fake’ versus ‘wrong,’ versus ‘erroneous,’ versus ‘exaggerated,’ versus ‘negligence’ – I don’t know. What you’re seeing right now was ultimately: there is going to be a move to have censorship algorithms; to have filters put on every conceivable aspect that you enjoy. When you go to enjoy, what we consider to be unfettered access to the internet. People like Facebook, they will start off with Facebook and Twitter. They can pick up somebody such auspicious and well-known organizations to filter the truth like Snopes or PolitiFact. And you one day type something, and it will reject it. After all we’ll say: “This is fake.” Who gets to decide what that is?
What is also amazing: when you consider what is fake news is, shall we consider, for example, reports that there were weapons of mass destruction? Or is that wrong news? I don’t mean to be persnickety about definitions, but it means a lot. When you also consider the fact that this country starting in the 1950’s, the Operation Mockingbird utilized the CIA to work hand in hand with mainstream media to conduct, to carve, and to create specific news also known as propaganda. Do you know the irony of having some of the same people today call for this purging of fake news? This is some of the most dangerous stuff that we as American citizens have ever been presented. When you see 60 minutes presenters, people then are going to say: “Yes, get rid of the fake news.” Who decides?
RT: We’re not just talking about news that might be wrong, we are talking about news that is being put to the public that looks like it comes from a credible media organization, and its purpose is really to fool the public. Do you support the liberty of being able to promote, spread and disseminate fake news?
L: Absolutely. The First Amendment of the Constitution deals with an unfettered ability for you and me and citizens to put out what we like. Now I may call a parody. If you go back and look sometimes at what these folks consider to be fake news, it was parody and satire…That was misunderstood. How dare anybody tell me what is real and what is not. Here is what we do. If we don’t like a particular site … then what they do is they go elsewhere, or complain, or sue if there is liable, slander, defamation, or any kind of defamatory statement. But to have somebody come in a priori through some type of initial form of censorship, some prior restraint and to cut off somebody’s ability to speak because they have been tattooed or labeled as purveyors of fake news. This goes to the very essence of what freedom of speech is. Who is it who decides what fake and what is not?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.