Good Advice in the Face of “Fake” News Mania

In the month that has followed Donald Trump’s surprise presidential win, you might have noticed a whole slew of stories about “fake” news.

There were liberals decrying fake news outlets posting sponsored items to social media… saying those had tipped the scales in Trump’s favor.

There were whole listings of “fake” news sites that, not surprisingly, focused primarily on conservative news outlets… and especially outlets of conservative opinion.

So what is the deal behind the whole fake news flap?

A few things are happening. First, the Hillary campaign welcomed another reason to explain why they lost that didn’t have to do with Hillary’s shortcomings as a candidate. The fake news story lets them say people are too stupid to determine the difference between made up news stories and real ones… and so they voted for Trump in reaction to a bunch of fake stories published on fake news sites and then shared across social media.

Second, fake news sites do exist. But they aren’t all just a bunch of right-wing conspiracy sites. There plenty of fake left-wing sites out there, too. These news sites publish fake or embellished articles with click-bait headlines. And sometimes these stories spread like wildfire through social media.

One example is the story about a D.C. pizzeria that was running a child slavery ring out of its basement. Just in case you hadn’t heard, this pizzeria was not a front for child slavers. But this fake news story got traction to the point that a man went to the pizzeria with a loaded gun in order to investigate.

Third, the left-wing media is only too happy to have a reason to discredit any news sites that don’t agree with their agenda… Breitbart — that’s fake news. Fox — fake. With the fake news story dominating the news cycle, it becomes easy to dismiss any site you don’t like as fake.

The question is, what do you do with all this?

I like the recommendation in this article over on Townhall. “Don’t take the word of any source as gospel; if something piques your interest, check it. If something seems crazy, it probably is. And if someone is portrayed as the second coming, dig deeper.” The full article is a good read, so check it out.