Fake news‘You can’t be trusted to decide what’s real and what isn’t…’

Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Shocking fact. Did you know that 92% of Leftist activists live at home with mother into adulthood? Yes, all those anti-Trump protesters, demonstrating against the presidency of the man who was, after all, endorsed by the Pope, clearly prove that “protesting snowflakes need home-made cheese melts and free room and board in order to continue their life’s work of agitation.”

If you’re offended by these words, don’t blame this writer. That “statistic” is lifted directly from the website, yournewswire.com , whose editor, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, joined Sean O’Rourke on the Today programme to discuss the very pertinent issue of fake news. (The Pope’s endorsement of The Donald came from elsewhere, but was widely circulated through social media, despite being utterly without merit).

As editor of a website whose headlines include, “Pamela Anderson Is a Russian Spy Sent to Bring down Assange”, Sean Adl-Tabatabai took particular issue with suggestions that news aggregators such as Facebook, Twitter and Google should do more to eliminate obvious fake news stories from people’s newsfeeds.

“I’m being told ‘you can’t be trusted to decide what’s real and what isn’t, so what we are going to do is tell you what is real and what isn’t real, suppress information on your newsfeed, because if enough people don’t like that story, we don’t think you should see it.”

Traditional news outlets, often referred to pejoratively as “the mainstream media”, have an arrogance about that needs to be challenged, according to Sean Adl-Tabatabai, and many very important stories are broken by smaller, independent online news outlets.

But to defend traditional media, host Sean O’Rourke turned to Kate Shanahan, Head of Journalism at DIT. She drew very clear distinctions between the approach of traditional news professionals and many so-called news websites, whether they are just indifferent to fact checking or, more worryingly, actively propagandist.

“They are not doing the legwork that the mainstream news media have done for decades. The checking, the balances, the ethics behind what they do. That’s not what’s happening with the fake news sites.”

According to Kate, there is also a huge issue around the money being made from the generation fake news, much of it earned by youngsters at computers in the likes of Macedonia, generating headlines and stories they know will get clicks, sometimes the more outrageous the better. But more disconcertingly, she expanded, these fake news stories have, in recent times, gained disproportionate traction with many supporters of Donald Trump, whose election has brought the debate around fake news to a peak.

Of course, many argue, we all live in our own echo chambers, whether left or right. As human beings, with all our imperfections, we need affirmation. Perhaps we should take comfort in this recent online report: “New DNA Study Reveals Humans Bred With ‘Alien Species”

No wonder we are the way we are. (That last headline comes courtesy of, you guessed it, yournewswire.com)

To listen to the full interview with its editor, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, and his MSM-defending nemesis, Kate Shanahan, click here.

© The Listener 2017

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