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20 Jul, 2020 16:49

Grab a shovel, America! This election season the fake news, hoaxes and tell-all books are flowing fast down the pipe

Grab a shovel, America! This election season the fake news, hoaxes and tell-all books are flowing fast down the pipe

Amid an epic political battle for the White House, Americans can no longer believe what they read and hear in the media. This is a dangerous reality for the nation, which needs accurate information to meet a flurry of challenges.

Every four years, the US mainstream media should be required to carry a surgeon general’s warning on its TV and print publications that states: ‘Consuming mainstream media in an election year may critically impair a voter’s ability to make rational decisions due to skewed information. Use at your own discretion.’

Anyone who doubts that statement may wish to consider the impressive hatchet job that CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta performed last week when quoting White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

In an effort to explain that the Trump administration was in favor of opening schools amid the Covid crisis, McEnany told a press conference: “The science should not stand in the way of this… the science is very clear on this... We encourage... localities and states to just simply follow the science. Open our schools.”

Despite the straightforwardness of the message, Acosta tweeted out to his 1.7 million followers just 10 words from McEnany’s monologue, the part where she said: “The science should not stand in the way of this.” That deliberate distortion prompted thousands of misinformed people to accuse the Trump administration of practically being neo-luddites and ‘anti-science.’

Was Acosta’s shoddy reporting just an oversight, or could it be chalked up as a politically motivated hit job against the Republicans with presidential elections just over 100 days away? Considering the mainstream media’s well-known history of negative reporting on Donald Trump, it is very tempting to go with the latter explanation.

Speaking of coronavirus, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much anxiety in the home of the brave over getting kids back to school if the American people were getting reliable data on the disease. Thus far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Amid fears that the number of Covid cases is being padded, possibly due to the political incentive, it was revealed that a 20-year-old Florida man who died in a motorcycle crash was listed as a Covid-related death. How many other deaths are being wrongly dropped into the Covid category is anyone’s guess, but many high-ranking officials believe there are serious problems with the tallying of numbers.

It’s this sort of willingness to jump to unreasonable conclusions over a highly sensitive issue that may have led NASCAR race driver Bubba Wallace to confuse a garage door opener for an actual noose, thereby inflaming racial tensions at the worst possible time. Was there any sort of political motivation behind the claim, which has been debunked by an FBI investigation, that a ‘hate crime’ had been committed? That is hard to say, but it cannot be ignored that the incident – coming at the very same time America’s streets were being overrun by Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death – sparked a war of words on Twitter between the African-American NASCAR driver and Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, amid the ongoing hysteria over Covid and race relations, Russiagate may seem like ancient history, yet that didn’t prevent it from floating to the surface again last week. It happened as Attorney General William Barr declassified two documents that proved beyond reasonable doubt the FBI was aware of some dozen inaccuracies in a 2017 New York Times report, the most devastating being that Trump officials were having contacts with Russian intelligence officers. 

The discovery presented a nice opportunity for America’s purported ‘paper of historical record’ to set the record straight with regards to the political witch hunt, prompted by unfounded accusations in the so-called ‘Steele Dossier,’ which hounded the Trump administration for four long years. Yet the New York Times has chosen to cling to its story, refusing to provide either an apology or a retraction to its readers.

“We stand by our reporting,”said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman.

And then there were, of course, the books – tell-all screeds from confidants and even family members close to Donald Trump – with their tantalizing tidbits of information that the media promised would sink the US president’s political career once and for all.

Former US national security adviser John Bolton, for example, who Trump dismissed in September 2019, released ‘The Room Where It Happened’ in June. As regularly occurs in Washington DC, which has arguably the worst plumbing in the world, a copy of the manuscript was leaked online in January, at the very same time – surprise, surprise – Trump was facing an impeachment inquiry. Despite the heated anticipation over the prospect that the book’s revelations would help drive Trump from office, the fanfare trickled out when even Bolton himself admitted he had no ‘silver bullet,’ as it were, to help the Democrats’ cause.

Another election-year blast, entitled ‘Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man,’ was released by none other than Trump’s niece. Where Bolton hoped to demolish his former boss with a cheap he-said, she-said expose from inside of the White House, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, hoped to accomplish the same by detailing aspects of Trump’s family life.

At one point in the book, Mary Trump revealed how her father’s family had been left out of her grandfather’s will, with the bulk of the family fortune passing to the favored Donald. After that revelation, she writes: “Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can’t let him destroy my country.”

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Could Mary Trump’s book be dismissed as a case of sour grapes, or even ‘fake news’ by a disgruntled Trump family member? It seems entirely possible. That is precisely the problem with such tell-all memoirs; the veracity of the claims is difficult to prove since they rely on the hazy recollections – not to mention the personal prejudices – of the storyteller. In any case, both books, which have gone on to sell millions of copies, provide fodder against the US president in the most hotly contested US presidential election in many years.  

This leads us to the question: what can the American voter truly believe this election year? The answer seems to be ‘absolutely nothing.’ From fudged reports emerging from White House press briefings, to the muddled memories of former Trump confidantes and relatives, it seems that everything is tainted in some way by political intrigue. As happens every four years, truth has fled the American house.

The difference this time around, however, is that an ominous cloud of violence, unrest and upheaval hangs over these elections like never before. Therefore, with every fake news story that gets circulated, the chances that the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election will turn ugly only increases. After all, people are not stupid, and they are very good at understanding when they are being fooled. Yet the only thing Americans can put their faith in these days is that the uncertainty will only continue, straight up to November 3. What the morning of November 4 will look like in America is anybody’s guess, but I doubt fake news will be able to conceal it.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.