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Old 05-16-2020, 11:49 AM
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Should the term "Fake News" be regulated in it's public use?


The term "News" is publically regulated, in that you can't call yourself a news channel at will. You may be disqualified and not be able to describe your self that way.

I have noticed though, that channels which are not news channels, and can't be called that in the US, have started calling others, that I think are legitimate news channels, "Fake news."

Should there be a public cost or punishment?
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Old 05-16-2020, 12:05 PM
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Yes, anyone who uses the term "fake news" to refer to legitimate news channels should be impeached.
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Old 05-16-2020, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by drad dog View Post
The term "News" is publically regulated, in that you can't call yourself a news channel at will. You may be disqualified and not be able to describe your self that way.

I have noticed though, that channels which are not news channels, and can't be called that in the US, have started calling others, that I think are legitimate news channels, "Fake news."

Should there be a public cost or punishment?
Is the term "news" actually publicly regulated in the United States? Are there any laws or regulations about what can or cannot be called "news channels" in the United States?

I'm pretty sure the answer to both those questions is "no" (with the caveat that over-the-air broadcast TV and radio channels are subject to more regulations than cable channels).

So, anyone have a cite for the assertions in the OP that in the United States there is some kind of legal regulation of what programming can or cannot be called "news", or who can or cannot call themselves a "news channel"?

(And I personally loathe Fox News, and do not remotely consider them to be a trustworthy reporter of news.)
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Old 05-16-2020, 01:14 PM
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The term "News" is publically regulated, in that you can't call yourself a news channel at will. You may be disqualified and not be able to describe your self that way.

I have noticed though, that channels which are not news channels, and can't be called that in the US, have started calling others, that I think are legitimate news channels, "Fake news."

Should there be a public cost or punishment?
There should be a public cost, in that the public should hold accountable agencies that put out false information.

As far as accountability imposed by the government? That's a scary proposition, considering the people in charge of the govt right now.

And I do not know that it is the case that I cannot put together my own youtube channel, or public access show, or even smoke signals in morse code, and call it a news channel. It may be that the FCC has rules about it for shows that are broadcast on the airwaves, and qualifications they need to call themselves news, but most media is not actually carried that way anymore.
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Old 05-16-2020, 03:11 PM
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Definitely not. Freedom of speech is one of the most important pillars of democracy. It should be protected even when it is being abused. If people are lying or making false accusations, the best solutions are to tell the truth and vote the liars out of power.

On a more practical matter if you open the door on regulating speech, the reality is that no matter how good the initial intentions are, we will end up having speech regulated by the people in power in ways that support their interests. If we had laws that prohibited the use of terms like "fake news", the Trump administration would be using those laws to close down media outlets that are delivering what they declare is "fake news".
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:24 PM
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Who do you suppose we should assign to run the Truth Police?
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:44 PM
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The term "News" is publically regulated, in that you can't call yourself a news channel at will. You may be disqualified and not be able to describe your self that way.
I join MEBruckner in calling "cite".
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:53 PM
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The term "News" is publically regulated, in that you can't call yourself a news channel at will. You may be disqualified and not be able to describe your self that way.
That doesn't seem to have affected The Onion ("America's Finest News Source").

There are a slew of "news" outlets that in varying degrees present highly dubious or outright false stories in pursuit of political or economic objectives. In the case of "Natural News", that bastion of conspiracy-mongering and quackery, there's an overt political message as well as an overriding goal of making money off suckers.

So the real question is, do we want to ban all websites and other outlets that claim to offer "news" but have a really poor track record in providing accurate information? Where do we draw the line? Is it sub-90% accuracy, sub-50% or Hardly Ever Right? What if there's a pundit/blogger who typically posts crap, but every once in a while has a line on something real? Do we start censoring message boards in which there are commonly threads promoting nonsense?*

Short of libel, slander and direct threats to individuals or public safety, we should err on the side of free expression, as painful as it is to those of us who Know The Truth.

*not singling anyone out.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 05-16-2020 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 05-16-2020, 05:36 PM
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OK, my mistake.

We're not going to do well.
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Old 05-16-2020, 05:52 PM
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We'll do a lot better than countries that attempt to control what people say. You are essentially trying to regulate criticism of media sources. Can you not see how that could go horribly wrong?
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Old 05-16-2020, 05:53 PM
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We'll do a lot better than countries that attempt to control what people say. You are essentially trying to regulate criticism of media sources. Can you not see how that could go horribly wrong?
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:31 PM
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We'll do a lot better than countries that attempt to control what people say. You are essentially trying to regulate criticism of media sources. Can you not see how that could go horribly wrong?
Yes we could be redundant.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:31 PM
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There is a limited amount of the broadcast spectrum available so the government, via the FCC, regulates who gets to broadcast. Television stations are required to have a license and demonstrate that they will use their portion of the spectrum in a manner that benefits the public interest.

I don't know if there's an official requirement that television stations broadcast the news but I think it's one the criteria used to determine if a specific station is using its license well. So stations are strongly motivated to broadcast news coverage.

So what constitutes news coverage? I believe there are FCC regulations which limit what a broadcast network can call "news". For example, CBS could not not call broadcasting episodes of Survivor news reporting. But can a network broadcast a sports event and call it news coverage? Regular news shows report on sporting events. I don't think this is allowed but I'll admit I can't find the relevant regulations online.

One thing I did find is that the FCC does regulate the broadcasting of news which is a hoax. That seems pretty close to a "fake news" standard. But top avoid the appearance of censorship, the definition of what constitutes a hoax is narrow; the station had to know what it was presenting as news was false, it had to foresee that its false information as news would cause public harm, and actual substantial harm had to result.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:36 PM
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We'll do a lot better than countries that attempt to control what people say. You are essentially trying to regulate criticism of media sources. Can you not see how that could go horribly wrong?
Are you claiming that there is no high-ranking figure in the American government who attempts to control what the media says about him on a regular basis?
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Old 05-16-2020, 08:03 PM
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OK, my mistake.

We're not going to do well.
Why would you start a thread in Great Debates based on a false premise?
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:22 PM
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There is a limited amount of the broadcast spectrum available so the government, via the FCC, regulates who gets to broadcast. Television stations are required to have a license and demonstrate that they will use their portion of the spectrum in a manner that benefits the public interest.

I don't know if there's an official requirement that television stations broadcast the news but I think it's one the criteria used to determine if a specific station is using its license well. So stations are strongly motivated to broadcast news coverage.

So what constitutes news coverage? I believe there are FCC regulations which limit what a broadcast network can call "news". For example, CBS could not not call broadcasting episodes of Survivor news reporting. But can a network broadcast a sports event and call it news coverage? Regular news shows report on sporting events. I don't think this is allowed but I'll admit I can't find the relevant regulations online.

One thing I did find is that the FCC does regulate the broadcasting of news which is a hoax. That seems pretty close to a "fake news" standard. But top avoid the appearance of censorship, the definition of what constitutes a hoax is narrow; the station had to know what it was presenting as news was false, it had to foresee that its false information as news would cause public harm, and actual substantial harm had to result.
The problem is that cable isn't broadcasting. So spreading hoaxes is ok now.

Broadcast standards were around so long (for boomers for instance) that we forgot how vulnerable we might be in another set of facts.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:46 AM
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You or someone LIKE You?


And who do you think should possibly be put in charge of what YOU call "Regulating" its use? Let me guess... You or Someone LIKE you?

Why do so many liberals nowadays want to control what everyone can say ( and do to a big extent - ( except when a woman wants to kill her unborn kid ))

No. Your thoughts, and ideas and skill at communication should be plenty enough to combat incorrect claims of "Fake News". It will also help if your media would get out of bed with their favorite politicians and begin "Just Reporting" the news instead of trying to steer the narrative.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:04 AM
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Thanks for your post. I just got BINGO on my "ridiculous conservative responses" bingo card.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:53 PM
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One scandal rag calls itself news. The other calls it's opponent "fake news". This is literally as old as the United States (and, of course, much older).

Hamilton founded the New York Post pretty much to attack Jefferson. “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” Jefferson replied.

The amazing thing is it's actually OUR JOB to figure out what is true and what is not true. If the citizenry is not up to that task then you pretty much can't have a republic.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:39 PM
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One scandal rag calls itself news. The other calls it's opponent "fake news". This is literally as old as the United States (and, of course, much older).

Hamilton founded the New York Post pretty much to attack Jefferson. “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” Jefferson replied.

The amazing thing is it's actually OUR JOB to figure out what is true and what is not true. If the citizenry is not up to that task then you pretty much can't have a republic.
We have never seen a major tv network call another one fake news. Ever. And we are not the americans of 1840. We have been lulled into sleep by the fairness doctrine which we thought was forever and came from God. But really it was just a window.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:40 PM
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And who do you think should possibly be put in charge of what YOU call "Regulating" its use? Let me guess... You or Someone LIKE you?

Why do so many liberals nowadays want to control what everyone can say ( and do to a big extent - ( except when a woman wants to kill her unborn kid ))

No. Your thoughts, and ideas and skill at communication should be plenty enough to combat incorrect claims of "Fake News". It will also help if your media would get out of bed with their favorite politicians and begin "Just Reporting" the news instead of trying to steer the narrative.
Are you yelling into the mirror?
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:16 PM
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We have never seen a major tv network call another one fake news. Ever. And we are not the americans of 1840. We have been lulled into sleep by the fairness doctrine which we thought was forever and came from God. But really it was just a window.
"Never"? What does that even mean? Major TV networks have only existed for, what, 90 years?

Before TV, news was radio and before that newspapers. And they have been calling each other fake since the beginning. Propaganda has always been a thing, and calling for the government to somehow regulate it is asking for the foxes to run the hen house.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:17 PM
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"Never"? What does that even mean? Major TV networks have only existed for, what, 90 years?

Before TV, news was radio and before that newspapers. And they have been calling each other fake since the beginning. Propaganda has always been a thing, and calling for the government to somehow regulate it is asking for the foxes to run the hen house.
Never meant never.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:14 PM
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The amazing thing is it's actually OUR JOB to figure out what is true and what is not true.
But thinking is really hard. It's so much easier if I let the fine people at Fox do all the thinking and then they can tell me what I should believe is true.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:19 PM
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We have never seen a major tv network call another one fake news. Ever. And we are not the americans of 1840. We have been lulled into sleep by the fairness doctrine which we thought was forever and came from God. But really it was just a window.
If you want a turning point, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was it.
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Old 05-19-2020, 10:59 AM
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Never meant never.
I guess I don't understand your point then. By "major network" do you mean CBS, NBC, and ABC? If so, why is it important that they haven't called each other "fake news"?

What is the problem you are worried about, and why do you think it is new? If you ban the term "fake news", won't Fox News or Trump or Brietbart or whomever just come up with another term? It's not like their supporters will suddenly think "Oh, I guess CNN was telling the truth all along because now nobody is calling them fake".

If you are concerned about media bubbles, the replacement of news with propaganda, and the fact that we can't debate the correct course of public policy without having some set of common facts, then I'm all in agreement. Regulating speech isn't likely to get us there, in my opinion.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:54 AM
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I guess I don't understand your point then. By "major network" do you mean CBS, NBC, and ABC? If so, why is it important that they haven't called each other "fake news"?

What is the problem you are worried about, and why do you think it is new? If you ban the term "fake news", won't Fox News or Trump or Brietbart or whomever just come up with another term? It's not like their supporters will suddenly think "Oh, I guess CNN was telling the truth all along because now nobody is calling them fake".

If you are concerned about media bubbles, the replacement of news with propaganda, and the fact that we can't debate the correct course of public policy without having some set of common facts, then I'm all in agreement. Regulating speech isn't likely to get us there, in my opinion.
The point is that there was not enough aggregate power in the media to create the level of influence that "major tv networks" exert, before there were such things. So this kind of public pathology matters, now more than in Andrew Jacksons time. And there are a number of reasons for that having to do with the industrial revolution, a couple of world wars and modernity for instance.

What about the term "news"?
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:57 PM
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Are you claiming that there is no high-ranking figure in the American government who attempts to control what the media says about him on a regular basis?
I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. I made no claims whatsoever about the current occupant of the White House, whose inanities have nothing at all to do with the wisdom of regulating speech.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:10 PM
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The point is that there was not enough aggregate power in the media to create the level of influence that "major tv networks" exert, before there were such things. So this kind of public pathology matters, now more than in Andrew Jacksons time. And there are a number of reasons for that having to do with the industrial revolution, a couple of world wars and modernity for instance.
Hm, that's an interesting idea. I'm not sure I'm completely convinced that the ability of TV news to influence the electorate is any more powerful than the major newspapers at the time of the founding of the country. I'd need some evidence of that claim.

I actually think the far more nefarious force isn't the TV news networks but the tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube that curate what we see and consume to align with what we have seen and consumed in the past. This creates systems where if I tend to mainly watch/read/consume The Guardian and John Oliver (for example) I have to make a genuine effort to find opinions, facts, and stories representing a different viewpoint than what might be called the "middle-left consensus".
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What about the term "news"?
Seems to me that if you regulate a word they will just come up with another word. Fox News can't call itself news? They'll just call themselves Olds and their fans will say it's the real news.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:40 PM
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Hm, that's an interesting idea. I'm not sure I'm completely convinced that the ability of TV news to influence the electorate is any more powerful than the major newspapers at the time of the founding of the country. I'd need some evidence of that claim.

I actually think the far more nefarious force isn't the TV news networks but the tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube that curate what we see and consume to align with what we have seen and consumed in the past. This creates systems where if I tend to mainly watch/read/consume The Guardian and John Oliver (for example) I have to make a genuine effort to find opinions, facts, and stories representing a different viewpoint than what might be called the "middle-left consensus".
Seems to me that if you regulate a word they will just come up with another word. Fox News can't call itself news? They'll just call themselves Olds and their fans will say it's the real news.
I agree about facebook. I've seen it turn people. How can a normal american who voted for clinton and obama all of the sudden become so in love with their own fumes that they say the same things as William Barr and dt, about Mueller and russia and impeachment? They are not offended by the presence of dt in the white house!!! That is a big shift. Because there are bigger fish to fry I suppose. Like hating HRC, and watching the world burn.

It has to be noted. People who I used to have a beer with and share normal stuff, are not exercised about gettting dt out of office.

But you have to admit the synergy between these things is the deadly aspect. Bubbles are reinforced. Facebook becomes deadly in the synergy with Fox news, a true fact free bubble, and a major news network that is on all cable platforms and is seen in gyms, hotels and other public places. I can't see how newspapers in 1840 have relevance us now except for those "It was always this way" kinds of claims. It wasn't always this way for me. I have a great respect for the stuff that has happened since 1840 and don't think it's the same now. I don't think we are the same as we were 5 months ago to be honest.
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:51 PM
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To come at this from another angle, why is it that Fox News is so careful to paint itself as an entertainment organization rather than a news organization, at least officially? Is it to avoid lawsuits from people who rely on Fox News's pronouncements to their detriment?
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:42 PM
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I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. I made no claims whatsoever about the current occupant of the White House, whose inanities have nothing at all to do with the wisdom of regulating speech.
I, of course, did not come to that conclusion. I was pointing out the flaw in your argument.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:49 AM
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To come at this from another angle, why is it that Fox News is so careful to paint itself as an entertainment organization rather than a news organization, at least officially? Is it to avoid lawsuits from people who rely on Fox News's pronouncements to their detriment?
But is Fox News officially "careful to paint itself as an entertainment organization rather than a news organization" in some way that CNN or MSNBC aren't? In what way does Fox News do that?

I agree that Fox News is propagandistic and full of lies, but I really am not aware of any indication that they are somehow officially self-aware about their own awfulness. Really, some of these arguments are in danger of becoming some kind of "FOX:NEWS capitalizes its name and punctuates it funny, plus that flag has a gold fringe on it, therefore Fox News is exempt from the Secret UN Illuminati World Law on What News Is".
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:20 AM
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Yes, anyone who uses the term "fake news" to refer to legitimate news channels should be impeached.

What constitutes a legitimate news channel?

I think if you put restrictions on what can and can't be reported, and how vetted it would need to be to be classified as "legitimate", there wouldn't be many MSM "news channels"
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:52 AM
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But is Fox News officially "careful to paint itself as an entertainment organization rather than a news organization" in some way that CNN or MSNBC aren't? In what way does Fox News do that?
Also let's not confuse "Fox News" with "Fox Network", which is part of the same conglomerate and carries material from Fox News Media, but is also clearly entertainment-oriented as the home of Simpsons, Masked Singer, Gotham, etc.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 05-26-2020 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:06 AM
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Right. And of course that's not in the least bit unusual; CNN is a corporate sister to HBO (and both are ultimately owned by The Phone Company); CNBC is part of the same media conglomerate as the SyFy channel (and both are owned by The Cable Company), and so forth. (Whether all this media conglomerating is good for democracy is certainly debatable, but would also be a different thread, I think.)
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:48 AM
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To come at this from another angle, why is it that Fox News is so careful to paint itself as an entertainment organization rather than a news organization, at least officially? Is it to avoid lawsuits from people who rely on Fox News's pronouncements to their detriment?
I think you've mistaken Fox News with Rush Limbaugh, who does point out that he's an entertainer. He does that to illustrate that we can't trust the "drive-by media" who try to hide their bias behind the label of "news."

Nevertheless, I'd prefer we fight over what is or isn't "fake news" on message boards than to put the power to decide in the hands of a government body with the power to silence what it doesn't agree with.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:08 PM
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But is Really, some of these arguments are in danger of becoming some kind of "FOX:NEWS capitalizes its name and punctuates it funny, plus that flag has a gold fringe on it, therefore Fox News is exempt from the Secret UN Illuminati World Law on What News Is".
I don't get what this means.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:13 PM
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Hannity dances on the line all the time. He's in the twilight where he claims credibility on real world events, but emphasizes he is only an opinion host when he needs to, entirely situational.
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:34 PM
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I don't get what this means.
What I mean is, in this thread there seem to be a couple of ideas, which sort of verge on a Conspiracy Theory:

1. That there are some kind of Official Federal Regulations about what "news" is, but that
2. The "Fox News Channel", in spite of its name and its entire "brand" as a news channel, is somehow secretly evading the Official Federal Regulations by cleverly specifying (somehow) that they are really "entertainment"--even though their name is Fox News and their entire corporate identity, as a channel, is as a "News Network".

As far as I can tell, none of this is true. There are no Official Regulations in the United States about what "news" is (or isn't), it would be unconstitutional to attempt to enact any such regulations, and furthermore, it would be a really bad idea in any event.

I mean, think about who's in charge of the U.S. federal government right now, and imagine, if there were such Official Regulations, which news channel would be able to smugly display its Official Presidential Seal of Approval as a Real News Channel, and which news channels and other media organizations would have to run some kind of disclaimer:

In accordance with the Communications Act of 1937, we are officially classified as "Fiction/Entertainment".
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:35 PM
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What I mean is, in this thread there seem to be a couple of ideas, which sort of verge on a Conspiracy Theory:

1. That there are some kind of Official Federal Regulations about what "news" is, but that
2. The "Fox News Channel", in spite of its name and its entire "brand" as a news channel, is somehow secretly evading the Official Federal Regulations by cleverly specifying (somehow) that they are really "entertainment"--even though their name is Fox News and their entire corporate identity, as a channel, is as a "News Network".

As far as I can tell, none of this is true. There are no Official Regulations in the United States about what "news" is (or isn't), it would be unconstitutional to attempt to enact any such regulations, and furthermore, it would be a really bad idea in any event.

I mean, think about who's in charge of the U.S. federal government right now, and imagine, if there were such Official Regulations, which news channel would be able to smugly display its Official Presidential Seal of Approval as a Real News Channel, and which news channels and other media organizations would have to run some kind of disclaimer:

In accordance with the Communications Act of 1937, we are officially classified as "Fiction/Entertainment".
We have not been living in the same communications environment since 1937.

There were standards before, in many of our lifetimes, and they are gone now. "Fairness" was the aim. There was a limited spectrum that the fairness referred to. "Fairness" is gone, because the spectrum is not precious anymore.

All this 1984 totalitarian stuff you are talking about, it was normal stuff under a limited broadcast spectrum. Do you remember?
  #42  
Old 05-26-2020, 04:12 PM
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There was a limited spectrum that the fairness referred to. "Fairness" is gone, because the spectrum is not precious anymore.
The scarcity of the broadcast spectrum was precisely the justification for the Fairness Doctrine. There is no scarcity of cable channels, or scarcity of websites. And the Fairness Doctrine never did apply to newspapers--nowadays, newspapers and "cable" news are all in the same "place".
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All this 1984 totalitarian stuff you are talking about, it was normal stuff under a limited broadcast spectrum. Do you remember?
Whatever his flaws, Ronald Reagan was no Donald Trump. Howard Baker was no Mitch McConnell.



So, just to be clear, you are advocating that the United States government should promulgate regulations declaring which media channels or organizations are "news" and which are "fake news"?
  #43  
Old 05-26-2020, 05:20 PM
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The scarcity of the broadcast spectrum was precisely the justification for the Fairness Doctrine. There is no scarcity of cable channels, or scarcity of websites. And the Fairness Doctrine never did apply to newspapers--nowadays, newspapers and "cable" news are all in the same "place".

Whatever his flaws, Ronald Reagan was no Donald Trump. Howard Baker was no Mitch McConnell.



So, just to be clear, you are advocating that the United States government should promulgate regulations declaring which media channels or organizations are "news" and which are "fake news"?
I'm asking whether you remember any restrictions on broadcasters "news"? How old are you?

We have certainly lived under regulations about what is an opinion, what is news, what is an opposing opinion, etc, for most of our lives, most of us. At that time, it seems to me, democracy was in much better shape.

I don't know what Reagan is referring to.
  #44  
Old 05-26-2020, 06:31 PM
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I do not think giving Donald Trump (and William Barr) the power to officially decide what counts as "news" (and what counts as "fake news") will improve the health of our democracy.
  #45  
Old 05-26-2020, 08:07 PM
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I do not think giving Donald Trump (and William Barr) the power to officially decide what counts as "news" (and what counts as "fake news") will improve the health of our democracy.
It wasn't mooted.
  #46  
Old 05-27-2020, 11:45 AM
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The majority of what is broadcast today on all news channels is editorial. There is very little true fact reporting, that leaves the viewer to come to their own opinion.
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