So the news this week has been all about fake news.
A significant factor in the American election, we were told, was the proliferation of news sites deliberately propagating made-up stories.
Channel 4 had an exclusive. Ciaran Jenkins, ITN’s Northern correspondent, was in a small town in Macedonia where, he claimed, much of the material comes from.
The piece involved a series of interviews with people in the town, including two teenagers who admitted to disseminating fake news.
Prior to the interviews he gave examples of the kind of stuff he was talking about: “Some falsely report that Hillary Clinton is a paedophile,” he said, “and that she sold arms to ISIS.”
This last statement was accompanied by a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a picture of Julian Assange. Underneath was written: “Julian Assange: 1,700 emails proves Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS in Syria.”
The implication is clear. News about Clinton’s support for ISIS is as absurd as news about her being a paedophile. Like the Macedonian teenagers, Julian Assange is also in the business of spreading fake news.
But this was an example of deliberate misdirection.
Say what you like about Assange, it is not fake news he produces, it is leaked information, pretty well all of which is true.
Furthermore, while it can’t be shown that Hillary Clinton sold arms to ISIS, leaked memos reveal that she was fully aware of the fact that US allies were funding ISIS, and she turned a blind eye to it.
Underlying the news about fake news is the assumption that our Western media produces real news.
It doesn’t take much digging to show that this, too, is a false assumption.
Remember those weapons of mass destruction? A lot of that information came from a dissident Iraqi Taxi driver who has since admitted he was lying.
Much of the news from Libya and Syria has also proved, at best, unreliable, at worst, completely untrue.
It’s not that the Western media concoct fake headlines: it’s that they repeat unquestioningly false information fed to them by Western Intelligence Agencies.
As one of my friends on Facebook put it: “I tend to think of the news as propaganda; now I’m being warned not to listen to fake propaganda.”
They are a shameless lot: They lie their teeth out, then wax vehemently righteous when someone declines to fall for their lies. Thank you, Christopher, for a super, very necessary article.
Thanks Sophie. It was written as a column for the newspaper I write for, the Whitstable Gazette, but they didn’t use it. I only have 350 words, so it’s quite a hard job to say everything that’s necessary in such a short space, but I do my best. I’m glad you appreciated it.