I’ve just about given up on some people. No matter how much evidence they’re presented with, they’re immovable.
They’ll never believe that Hillary Clinton did not sell 20 percent of U.S. uranium to Russia. She was one of nine Cabinet secretaries and other officials approving a Toronto-based company’s sale to Russia’s nuclear agency. Only the president could have vetoed the deal and, said FactCheck, only if at least one member of the foreign investment committee objected, and then only if there was credible evidence of danger to national security. Plus, the uranium mined in the U.S. cannot be exported, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which also had to approve the sale.
As FactCheck noted in its checkup on the uranium tale, “constant repetition doesn’t make a false statement true.” Not that it keeps people from trying on this and other political fabulism.
Others won’t believe that Donald Trump didn’t tell People in 1998 that if he ran for president, it would be as a Republican because Republicans are big stupid-heads. Numerous fact-checkers have taken this one on just about every time it’s appeared since October 2015. Not only was the quote fake, People found no interviews with Trump that year, and nothing close to that quote was found in any other year. CNN’s Tatianna Amatruda said of the falsity, “Dear Internet, we don’t want to scold you, but you’re making it difficult.” To be fair, the Internet isn’t sentient (yet), so maybe that should be directed at the people surfing the Net and spreading these stories far and wide.
CNN’s been on the hot seat lately thanks to a retraction and apology it issued, followed by the resignations of three investigative journalists, after the mishandling of a Russia story involving Trump associate Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci accepted the apology and was satisfied with how quickly the network took the story down. Hopefully he also accepts the apology of everyone like me who thinks of “Bohemian Rhapsody” every time they hear his name. (Will he do the fandango? Asking for a friend.)
The president, of course, is not satisfied, seeing it as vindication that CNN is fake news (or FraudNewsCNN, as the president tweeted Saturday). Well, that is when he’s not rage-tweeting at Joe and Mika, Hillary, Obama, every mainstream media outlet but Fox News …
But wait … does that mean any media outlet that issues corrections or retractions is fake? Uh, no. Correcting stories is what responsible media outlets do. CNN has issued corrections and retractions, as have Fox News (such as the Seth Rich story retracted by the network’s news side) and MSNBC, as well as broadcast networks, local stations, magazines and newspapers. With so much time and space to fill each day, it would be virtually impossible to have no corrections issued … unless there was no sense of responsibility.
If there is something actually incorrect about a story, real journalists have no problem correcting the error. CNN did the right thing here, and did it quickly without trying to play it down or cover it up.
When there isn’t a factual error and somebody just doesn’t like it (what seems to be the current definition of “fake news” rather than something intended to deceive), that’s another matter.
Every news or opinion item will offend someone, but that doesn’t mean it’s fake. And remember my frequent admonition about attributing the behavior of a few individuals to a larger group? It’s the same thing here; one retracted story (which in the case of CNN hadn’t been run by an executive editor nor fully reviewed by the legal team as internal rules say it should have been) does not mean that all other coverage is false. And it certainly doesn’t merit the president tweeting himself “tackling” CNN in a poorly done video clip.
It does, though, signal that CNN and other news organizations must be vigilant in ensuring their journalism passes muster.
Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, told the New York Times last week: “There have been so many attempts from so many quarters to decertify the press. The best thing that a news organization could do is to constantly revisit its standards and practices and constantly review the level of performance.”
Novel concept, eh? And one that actual purveyors of fake news (like the president) have no interest in doing.
Yeah, I have no idea if that fake Time cover is still hanging in the president’s clubs. He really has no more standing to call anyone fake than he does to call anyone disrespectful to women … or the free press … or the working poor …
Along with all the jokes last week about the guy who broke all 10 commandments at once at the Arkansas Capitol (well, in the pictures, the monument looked to be in about three or four pieces, so …), I was struck by a couple of thoughts.
First, besides not making a monument look like a gravestone, perhaps the artisans should have thought about a design change since it appears the Oklahoma City commandments monument (reportedly taken down by the same guy) broke in pretty much the same way. Maybe, just maybe, they might think about tapering out the bottom to provide a wider base and lower center of gravity rather than something that is the same (relatively thin) depth all the way through. Just throwin’ that out there. I mean, if a Dodge Dart can take it out …
And second, since the commandments monument opened the door to other religious imagery on the public property of the state Capitol, I’m considering starting my own religion: The Church of Wholly Wordnerdism. I look forward to placing my monument (I’m open to ideas, people!) alongside the commandments, should they be replaced, as well as Baphomet, Lord Hanuman (hey, a monkey god who loves grammar!), Buddha, and any other religious or anti-religious symbol someone thinks should be on the lawn.
Or we could just not. Yeah, let’s do that.
This past week was just nuts on the Trump Twitter beat, between his insults to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, CNN and other mainstream media (not counting Fox), and his constant need to prove he’s really a good boy and deserves those two scoops of ice cream, things were hoppin’. Because, you know, it’s all about him. Oh, and Heterosexual Pride Day (?????).
And Mr. President, it’s still your lawyers, the GOP, advisers and family who want you to stop tweeting, not the media. We don’t care.
There were a few responses this past week that have won my devotion, including one from one of Trump’s targets. Some of my favorites: