‘Russian hacking’ used as dog-ate-my-homework excuse
Co-founder of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales has announced plans for WikiTribune, a resource that would include articles from professional journalists and fact-checking from volunteers.
There have been a lot of examples of information distortion in some mass media outlets. For example. The Sun newspaper in the UK ran a video under the headline "racism in Russia," while the images were showing fans of the Ukrainian football team Dynamo Kiev staging a racist rally against rival team Shakhtar Donetsk. However, the mistake was amended later.
RT: What is considered to be fake news, do you think? Everybody's talking about it today.
Lionel: First of all, this is one of the biggest cons ever. It’s not fake news; it is called lies. Let’s get this right off the bat, let’s clarify something: It’s not fake news – it is a lie… What has happened was – somebody a long time ago, I guess, came up with the word ‘propaganda.’ The ‘propaganda’ eventually melded into ‘fake news.’ And they loved the concept. What is interesting is – now for the first time, and this is brilliant, Russia is calling on the UN and world leaders to do something once and for all finally about fake news. What is fascinating about that – because of those people, who were accusing Russia and Russian, I guess, counterparts in the media, are saying “Wait a minute, you can’t demand an end to fake news, that is our job. You’re fake news!” And Russia says: “No, you are fake news!” Everybody is pointing fingers at everybody else. This is just laughable…
RT: Do you think establishing said dialog is crucial to deal with the phenomenon of fake news?
L: … We have this joke [in the US]: “the dog ate my homework.” It is when a kid doesn’t turn in in his homework, and the teacher says: “Where is your assignment?” And the kid says: “My dog ate the homework.”‘Russian hacking’ has been “my dog ate the homework.” It’s this perfect excuse. Hillary Clinton has a pathetic campaign – she loses. What does she do? She could blame herself, but better yet, blame Russia: “You did it. You hacked.”
Now you’ve got the French elections. Again, I guess that was Russian interference when Mr. [Emmanuel] Macron, who was claiming: “[Russia] favored Marine Le Pen!” But why did you win? It doesn’t make any sense.
Meanwhile as up today’s date, as we approach May of 2017 I still have not heard the slightest bit of evidence, and I’m a lawyer, I like evidence, I haven’t heard one person, from one organization, even hint as to how Russia stole the election. The ‘blame Russia’ meme or trope, I hope, is gearing down, or wearing down, or dwindling away, because it is going nowhere…
One of the reasons why many people suspect that Clinton might have lost was because she and her fake news battalions put out the news that she was doing spectacularly well; that she was winning in the polls, that there was 80-90 percent chance that she would be president. And a lot of people said: “She’s is going to win. No need for me to vote.” And it was her own fake news that many suspect were also responsible for her loss. Do you see how deliciously, intoxicatingly complicated this is? I love this!
That is to say; they don’t create news out of whole cloth and post it. They have news with a point of view, and that is not the same thing.
‘No major outlets producing fake news'
Media outlets all over the place are accusing each other of doing fake news, Ted Rall, political cartoonist, told RT. He disagrees though that major news outlets produce fake news; they have news with a point of view, he says.
RT: Fake news has become a recent phenomenon, and everybody's talking about it. What has prompted it?
Ted Rall: Fake news began as something that has changed definition over the last 12 to 18 months. In the world of journalism ‘fake news’ was, I would say as of 2015, an article that was written completely from scratch, out of pure fiction and then disseminated with the idea of trying to change a point of view…
There is a lot of confusion now, especially among viewers, listeners, and leaders as to what fake news means. These days fake news pretty much means a news story that you disagree with in terms of a point of view. Or perhaps it could be anything from completely made up or an opinion that you don’t feel that you agree with. Part of the problem with this discussion over fake news in this debate is – that nobody can agree on the terms. When people are arguing over what constitutes fake news, we are not even necessarily talking about the same thing.
RT: Outlets worldwide have been pointing fingers, throwing "fake news" accusations around. Do you think it's their way to discredit each other?
TR: Fake news to me still relates to the old meaning of an article that was made up completely. The thing is there are tons of other iterations of this. For example, there have been articles that appeared in satirical newspapers like “The Onion” here in the US, and similar satirical newspapers that have been disseminated and have begun to be considered to be real stories. Now, is that a fake news story? No, it wasn’t written as a fake news story, because it was written as satire in a medium where everyone understood that it was satire, but then taken out of context and disseminated through social media outside of the context, or perhaps overseas, where, for example, other people in another country might not be familiar with the publication and might not even know that its origin is satirical, are confused willfully.
There is a tendency these days in the hyper-partisan atmosphere even internationally between media organizations, particularly those that are affiliated with nation-states like the BBC, like Voice of America, like RT – that are particularly virulent. This is going all over the place, where media outlets are accusing each other of doing fake news. The truth is really no major news outlets are producing fake news. I personally don’t agree with what much of Fox News has to say, but they don’t produce fake news. That is to say; they don’t create news out of whole cloth and post it. They have news with a point of view, and that is not the same thing.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.