Fake news is a trending news story. Fakesters create mockups of popular websites where they post news stories created entirely out of thin air. People believe these fake stories and share them because they appear on websites that look just like CNN or the Washington Post. The fake stories have even led to a shooting incident known as Pizzagate.
Jim Geraghty, writing for the National Review says that no one knows what to do about the phenomenon of fake news. Which is completely ridiculous. Because it's clear that putting the fakesters out of business begins with looking at root causes. And the root cause of fake news is media bias.
Media bias is dishonest news which is just another kind of fake news. It is media bias that led to the popular perception that Hillary Clinton was going to cream Trump in the recent presidential election. We believed it because the media led us to believe it. It was a fake news story that sucked us in all the more so because it didn't appear on mockups of the CNN or Washington Post websites but on the real deal.
The media hoped to convince us that Clinton would win so that no one would want to waste a vote on Trump. In fact, it's quite possible that many people voted for Clinton thinking that a vote for Trump would be a throwaway vote. After all, Americans are taught from grade school on up to maximize their votes. Trump might indeed have won the popular vote as well as the electoral vote had the media not persuaded us beyond all doubt that he didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election.
It was a concerted, conscious effort to divert votes to Clinton through one mammoth and ongoing lie to the public.
And as long as the media can lie through its teeth and we just drink it in, fake news will continue to explode on our screens and dupe us into believing all kinds of stupid stuff. And it doesn't help when government officials feed these news sites their lying lines.
Take, for instance, the first line of this Wall Street Journal story that appeared in my Google newsfeed on Sunday:
"Secretary of State John Kerry sharply criticized Israel’s continued construction on contested Palestinian territory and didn’t rule out administration support for action at the United Nations on the Arab-Israeli conflict before President-elect Donald Trump takes power."
If the author had spoken of "contested territory," that would have been a fairly neutral statement in line with good journalistic standards. The use of the phrase "contested territory" would have suggested that both Arabs and Jews claim the territory as their own, which is true. With the phrase "contested Palestinian territory," however, the author plants the seeds of bias in the very first line of her piece so as to poison her readership against Israel in favor of the Arab narrative. With this phrase, the author suggests that while Jews claim the land, it actually belongs to the Arabs. This is media bias by description: "Palestinian territory."
The author posits no proof of her assertion that the territory is "Palestinian," merely states this as if it were a fact. Because the article appears on a distinguished website, the Wall Street Journal, many readers will indeed absorb the idea as a fact: that there is such a thing as "Palestinian territory" and that Jews are wrong to build homes therein.
The author would have you believe that Jews have no rightful claim to the territory, only an unreasonable demand. She wants you to think that Jews are stealing the homeland of another people by building homes there. This idea is certain to generate righteous fury in readers with a bent for social justice. Which is why the author uses inflammatory language that prejudices readers against Israel and for the Arabs.
It's a fake news story as much as the fake news story that brought on Pizzagate, because the territory in question is Judea and Samaria. Judea and Samaria are not only indigenous Jewish territory, but land that rightfully belongs to Israel according to international law. The word "Jew" is English for "Yehuda" which is what "Judea" means. There are biblical, historical, and archaeological proofs of this fact. Jews are to Judea as Arabs are to Arabia.
What is "Palestinian territory," on the other hand? According to David Bukay:
"Palestinian Arabs, as opposed to Arabic-speaking residents, have not been in the area west of the Jordan River from the Islamic occupation, from the Ottoman Empire, or even from British rule since 1917. No Palestinian state has ever existed, and so, no Palestinian people has ever been robbed of its land. There is no language or dialect known as Palestinian; there is no Palestinian culture distinct from that of surrounding Arab ones; and there has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians at any time in history. For these reasons, Palestinians have been driven to fabricate a past by denying and expropriating that of Jews and Israel."
If there never was an Arab-ruled state known as Palestine with a distinct language and culture, then how is it possible for there to be something that is "Palestinian territory?" And if there is no such thing as "Palestinian territory," then how can one consider the territory to be legitimately "contested?"
An honest news piece would need to account for all of these ideas for the sake of balance.
And of course, the author is lucky enough to have no less than Secretary of State John Kerry lending credibility to her slanted viewpoint with his, as she puts it, sharp criticism of Israeli construction. This is media bias by selection of sources (Kerry). There's Kerry's bold threat: if Jews don't stop building homes on land Arabs want, President Obama may help the UN unilaterally declare a Palestinian state in his few remaining lame duck days in office. Because with Trump coming in, implies the author, we lose our last chance to help these poor Arab people get a state (aside from Jordan, Gaza, and the sections of Judea and Samaria that are under the PA).
All that in the first sentence of her piece. And much more as the article goes on to outline key points from Kerry's speech at the Saban Forum.
Kerry, the author says, speaks of the Obama administration losing patience, because the situation is "getting worse." In other words, Jews are building yet more homes! Kerry "cannot accept the notion that [building Jewish homes is] not a barrier to peace."
Kerry phoned Netanyahu over 375 times but said Bibi ignores U.S. criticism regarding Jews building homes. “We issue a warning today when we see a settlement’s going up. Nothing happens.”
The article continues with false assurances that the Iran deal somehow helps Israel with this followed by the reminder that the U.S. finalized a new military aid deal with Israel, which, the author tells us "significantly boosted" American support for Israel. Which is yet another lie. The new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) shows no serious improvement over past agreements and serves more as a freeze of the status quo. Also, under the terms of the new agreement Israel cannot request additional funds and in the event that Congress would approve more funds for defending Israel against missiles or tunnels, for instance, these funds would be deducted from the total sum of U.S. military aid to Israel. Netanyahu thought long and hard about whether to agree to these terms, not knowing whether things would be worse under, for instance, a Clinton administration, or better under a Trump administration.
The author implies that the U.S. is good to Israel but Israel is bad to the U.S. The U.S. made a deal with Iran that helps Israel, according to the author, who begrudgingly quotes Netanyahu's dissent. She fails to outline why everyday Israelis do not see the Iran deal as a good thing but as a major existential threat. She tell us that relations between America and the U.S. hit a new low when Bibi "went around" the White House to speak against the deal to Congress (media bias by spin).
The author also implies that Obama made an unprecedented military aid package to Israel, without giving readers the context that the aid package is a freeze and that it comes with the condition that Israel may not request additional assistance should war break out, God forbid.
The author leaves these details out because they do not further the poisoned perspective she wishes her readers to adopt. She further leaves out any mention of constant Arab terror, which is, after all, what constitutes the absence of peace. Israel had to evacuate 75,000 people from their homes due to Arab arson in recent weeks. There have been constant stonings of Jewish cars by Arab terrorists on the roads of Judea and Samaria.
Kerry does not cite Arab terror as an impediment to peace. Only the building of Jewish homes. And the author parrots this crazy narrative, leaving out any mention of homes burnt down, or lives lost to terror. This is media bias by omission.
It's sickening, frankly. What's more sickening is that thousands of people will read and believe this crazy, unbalanced fake news piece. Worse yet, no news outlet with a significant readership will call out Kerry or the Obama administration for disseminating its antisemitic propaganda: namely that building Jewish homes serves as an obstacle to peace.
Count the lies in this piece that appears in a distinguished news outlet:
1. Jews are building homes on Arab land
2. Building Jewish homes is an obstacle to peace
3. Judea and Samaria are Arab territory
4. The Iran deal helps Israel
5. The new MoU regarding U.S. military aid to Israel is unprecedented in its scope
The omissions? The lack of context? No mention of Arab terror. No mention of the fact that the MoU was widely regarded in Israel as a bad deal for Israel. No mention of the fact that the Iran deal facilitates nuclear breakout time.
If we want to stop the trend of fake news cold in its tracks, we're going to have to demand an end to this sort of egregious media bias. We need to call out authors who fail to lend balance to their pieces. We need to call them out for pushing opinion as news.
And we're going to have to be loud.
It's time to take back the media and get real.
Starting right now.