Can a Trump supporter explain to me how fake news works?

I am no longer a Trump supporter. Go ahead, take your shots. I’ll make no justifications, or provide any response to related inquiries. But to the fake news topic…

First you need to understand the colloquial meaning of the term “news” has changed. The entire “news” paradigm has shifted significantly in the past couple of decades. What is often being presented as news is really veild attempts to manipulate your thought process. People have learned that even factual reporting can be slanted to evoke an emotional or even irrational response.

After you realize that just about everything you see and hear in the supercharged all-electronic global thing that is current awareness for anyone who matters represents attempts to mold your response in pre-defined ways, you start to get it.

You say that as if this is a recent thing. Sensationalizing the news to drive up sales has been around, and even had a name, since the 1800’s.

It’s not new, it’s not hard to deal with, it is just that it seems every generation or so, people think that this is some new thing, because they hadn’t heard of it before.

The people who write the news are humans, humans with opinions. They also need to decide what to report on. Is it bias that they reported on the school shooting, but didn’t report on the hundreds of thousands of schools that didn’t have a school shooting that day? At some point, someone has to make a decision as to what is newsworthy, and just because you disagree with it, doesn’t make it fake.

That is why the MSM is far better than fringe outlets. The MSM polices itself. If ABC gets a story wrong, NBC is more than happy to provide a correction. News outlets love to scoop or correct another reporter’s story, so the reporter wants to get it right, and if they find an error, they want to correct it before another outlet does.

Then you have your Foxes or further to the fringe. Fox doesn’t care that they are called out constantly for getting stories wrong. They know that their audience won’t ever know about it, and anything that they do hear will be dismissed as “MSM lies”. Getting even further out to breitbart’s or infowars, and you have just complete fabrications with no basis in reality being presented as factual news.

So, you are correct that the meaning of “news” has changed, but it has only changed for the parts of the country that want to be assured of what they believe, and don’t want to be challenged to consider their beliefs, so fake news is anything that doesn’t fit with their personal narratives.

I also disagree that these right wing outlets “veil” their attempts at emotional manipulation in the slightest, or that they bother to do so with “factual” reporting.

I don’t think this story ever occurs. Do you have a link to an example?

FOx News is pioneering what fake news is. They have an alternative set of values pushing the stories. The ostensible reason for this is “Her emails!..” basically forever, without cease. Their Reichstag fire just consists of mentioning a defeated opponent over and over until it seems like an existential threat. If there is something undeniable on CNN then they place it in the lead softly, tying it in with some more fake story.

You are conflating the notion of a similar thing from a bygone era to what is happening now, and could not be more wrong. Electronic communications, media, the Internet and global reach for anyone with a cellphone has completely changed the game to cross international borders on an unprecedented scale. Categorizing the different flavors of news is just the glossary of terms used by exploiters with varying motives.

Consider the rate of change and how many generations have passed since grandma’s only window to the outside world was a newspaper she may not even see on a daily basis. I count about 1 or 2 at most.

Technically, no. The original popular fake news outlet has to be The Onion, which did spawn a few imitators, but The Onion is pretty up front about their content being fictitious, even though the site is entirely devoid of disclaimers – the silliness of the content speaks for itself. But it provided the RW a platform from which to launch their FAKE NEWS! cry, because there truly is a source out the that is unabashedly made-up.

Even so, I find the content of The Onion to be more useful and revealing than the tailored plop that comes out of Newscorp.

No, I am not. It is a similar thing because it is a similar thing. The fact that they are similar is what makes them similar.

So we get it quicker and faster, it is still people telling stories. Still people making decisions on what stores to report on. Still people making decisions on what outlets to give credibility to.

Since what, radio? That’s at least 4 generations back, even TV gets you at least 3.

You also are rather insulting to the past. Most cities had more than one paper of record, and you could get a newspaper from NY in Chicago, even if it was a few days behind the times. City dwellers were very well informed, and reasonably well inoculated against “fake news”.

What you are talking about is very rural areas, areas where they still may not see a newspaper on a daily basis. I can agree that these people are very poorly equipped to handle the critical thinking and filtering that most of us do almost unconsciously to separate fact from fiction, which does explain why these are the demographics that most fall for the Fox News and republican distortions of reality.

You are the one that is making the claim that the fundamental nature of news has changed. I will agree that the way that we get information has changed, and that there are more avenues and abilities for people to put their thoughts out there, but it’s the same exact issue we had that Thomas Jefferson was complaining about.

Explain how your complaint is substantially any different from the one from centuries ago.

Like I said, it’s not any different now, it’s just that when people discover something that they didn’t know before, it is new to them, so they think that it is new to everyone. It is not.

I’m not a supporter of that guy you’re talking about, but look at it this way: If you’ve already decided to support him, “Fake News” can mean any or all of these things, depending on the situation.

When he calls something “Fake News”, his supporters can look at the story and decide which definition(s) of “Fake News” could be most credibly applied, and claim that’s what he meant, without wavering in their support.

That means you can ask fifteen supporters what he meant when he called a story “Fake News” and get fifteen wildly different answers.

And this is why you’re never going to get an actual answer to what he means when he says “Fake News.” If he defined it with any precision, it wouldn’t serve his purposes anymore.

Fake news is not new and has always existed. Even the most so called impartial news outlets around the world have agendas. So, it is real. It’s just getting recycled more and presented in more “fancy” ways which fool some people.

People’s ability to take what they hear and read with a pinch of salt has decreased.

People over 25 should not be on social media, this junk is for kids and always was. Kids quickly move on to the next thing Myspace to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to those chat things and whatever else. So we’re left with most active users in the west on Facebook being middle aged people and above. Lame.

I can understand how they might feel that way about news on the economy or global warming. But Trump has been saying recent reports on shootings have been fake news.

Okay, so the mail bomber was a false flag operation. What do they think is the truth about the Pittsburgh and Louisville and now Tallahassee shootings? Are they saying that there were no such shootings? Or are they saying people were shot but these were also false flag operations? What do they feel is fake?

Not in so many words, no. But the example is inspired by the Toronto Star, a popular, mass-circulation somewhat-left-of-centre newspaper that follows the “Atkinson Principles” established by its publisher Joseph E. Atkinson. From here:

Emphasis added by me. When we dig a little further into the social justice part of the Atkinson Principles, we find this:

Under that principle, wouldn’t you agree that the Star just might publish a headline that states, “Tax Cut: Welfare Moms and Kids to Suffer”? Unfortunately, in my many years of living in Toronto and reading the Star at least once every few days, I have no link to anything in particular, but I can assure you that I have seen such headlines in that paper. I guess you’ll have to trust me on this one.

I don’t agree with everything Trump does, and I’m not sure I understand him, but I think an example would be something like this:

After Charlottesville, which was a demonstration between primarily people who wanted confederate monuments removed and those who wanted to keep the confederate monuments. Of course with any demonstration, a few radical idiots showed up, modern day Nazis, KKK members and a guy who killed a woman with his car. The protests became violent.

When commenting on the event, Trump made one comment out of many that there were “good people on both sides.” It seems clear that the only fair reading of that comment, even at the time and without Trump’s subsequent statements, that Trump was talking about the two mainstream sides of the protest itself. Many people who want confederate monuments removed are good people; many people who want to keep confederate monuments are good people.

But some media outlets improperly implied or outright said that Trump claimed that there were good Nazis or KKK members. When Trump explains that hell no that’s not what he meant, the media doubles down. Then when there is the shooting in Pittsburgh, some in the media claims that maybe, just asking questions here, that Trump saying that there were good Nazis caused violence against Jews.

If the “real” news was reported, then we could have a civil debate over whether good people could support keeping confederate monuments.

Instead the “fake” news causes division and violence such that GOP supporters get coffee thrown on them at a college campus and are subjected to a profanity laced tirade that they are Nazis.

This isn’t the only event. Some examples:

  1. Grab 'em by the pussy. What’s always left out of that is the very next statement when he says “when you’re a star, they don’t care.” We could have a civil debate over whether that statement was hyperbole or whether it is morally right to use one’s star power to bed women or commit adultery. What we get is the statement that Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.

  2. Does Trump want to enforce immigration laws or does he hate brown people?

  3. Does Trump want to combat voter fraud, or less charitably have fewer Democrats voting–or does he wish to bring back Jim Crow and disenfranchise black people?

  4. When the separates children from their parents who cross the border illegally and are arrested is this a necessary but unfortunate consequence of the criminal justice system, or is he placing children in concentration camps?

IMHO, the “fake news” is the latter in these examples. They needlessly throw unsupported invectives into these debates which cause rock throwing and vicious hatred on both sides instead of prompting civil discourse. IOW, it is nothing Trump is saying or doing causing such a vicious divide, but the “fake news” media creating these narratives and causing the divisions.

We can debate whether Trump’s policies are right or wrong, absolutely we can do that. But we can do it without resorting to ridiculous and unsupported deductions from what he actually said.

Of course, both sides are guilty of it. The problem is that when the GOP does it, we have a few crank websites and sometimes Fox News does it. When the Dems do it, they have the support of the major media outlets like the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC and the list goes on.

That is Trump’s point. I don’t agree with the entirety of it, but there is a kernel of truth to it.

I disagree. The VAST amount of information and the ability to select the news source causes people on the extreme of each side to go to their favorite source.

One hundred years ago, even if a person was living in a large city with a morning and evening newspaper, the newspaper, in order to stay in business had to appeal to a large segment of the population to stay in business. It cannot be a partisan rag or else half the population would quit reading it. So the paper does what it can to present the issue in the fairest way possible or at least be charitable to the opposing side. Further, these were trained journalists who had some semblance of ethics.

Of course, there were exceptions to this, but they were notably in times where the country was about to split: 1) at the founding where you noted Jefferson’s opinion regarding Federalist papers in New England, and 2) prior to the Civil War. During those times, the New England papers could be “fake news” for the Federalists and the Southern papers could be “fake news” for the South.

But today we not only have access to vast amounts of information but so many different platforms, and with the 24/7 news cycle there is a need to fill the time with more creative stories. It is not like a newspaper that would print one article on say, Trump’s proposed executive order to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants. Not at all. Today we have hundreds of websites, talk radio programs, blogs that cannot all just repeat the same thing: they need to be different from others to survive.

Therefore you get a variety of stuff, some written by knowledgeable people, some written by complete cranks. And the public can choose to view, listen, or watch any most or none of these different opinions. I can keep abreast of current events without hearing a single Democrat’s opinion if I want.

In many ways, this is great because I don’t have to read only what the local newspaper tells me to read. In many other ways it is bad because I only see what I want to see. That was not possible, even 30 years ago.

This is a fascinating study in actual fake news. Do you happen to remember where you read/heard the framing in which the fascists simply showed up at some pre-existing milquetoast protest and ruined what was otherwise a civil discussion about statues? Because that’s…not what happened. The fascists directly organized and planned the event themselves.

This is not an accurate depiction of the rally. The “Unite The Right” rally was organized by Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, a pair of neo-nazis. Groups involved include:

Among the far-right groups engaged in organizing the march were the Stormer Book Clubs (SBCs) of the neo-Nazi news website The Daily Stormer,[49] The Right Stuff,[50] the National Policy Institute,[51] and four groups that form the Nationalist Front:[48] the neo-Confederate League of the South,[48] the neo-Nazi groups Traditionalist Worker Party,[52] Vanguard America,[52] and the National Socialist Movement.[48] Other groups involved in the rally were the Ku Klux Klan (specifically the Loyal White Knights branch) ,[19] the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights,[52] the American Identitarian group Identity Evropa,[53] the Southern California-based fight club Rise Above Movement,[54][55] the American Guard,[17] the Detroit Right Wings – misappropriating the name of the Detroit Red Wings NHL team, which usage was condemned by the team,[56][57] True Cascadia,[58] the Canadian-based ARM (Alt-Right Montreal) and Hammer Brothers,[59] and Anti-Communist Action.[17]

Prominent far-right figures in attendance included National Policy Institute Chairman and white supremacist Richard Spencer,[60] entertainer and internet troll Baked Alaska,[60] former Libertarian Party candidate Augustus Invictus,[61] former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke,[62] Identity Evropa leader Nathan Damigo,[63] Traditionalist Workers Party leader Matthew Heimbach,[60] Right Stuff founder Mike Enoch,[60] Eric Striker of The Daily Stormer,[64] League of the South founder and leader Michael Hill,[9] Red Ice host and founder Henrik Palmgren,[65] The Rebel Media commentator Faith Goldy,[66] Right Side Broadcasting Network host Nick Fuentes,[67] YouTube personality James Allsup,[67] editor Daniel Friberg,[68] former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson,[69] Right Stuff blogger Johnny Monoxide,[70] Daily Stormer writers Robert “Azzmador” Ray and Gabriel “Zeiger” Sohier-Chaput,[71] Daily Caller contributor and rally organizer Jason Kessler,[72] and Radical Agenda host Christopher Cantwell.[73][74] Gavin McInnes, the leader of the self-described “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys group, was invited to attend but declined because of an unwillingness “to be associated with explicit neo-Nazis”.[18] In June, ahead of the rally, McInnes declared that “we need to distance ourselves from them”, but “after backlash to the original disavowal flared-up from Alt-Right circles, the statement was withdrawn and replaced with another distancing the Proud Boys from the event yet also encouraging those who ‘feel compelled’ to attend”.[75]

You make it sound like this was a conservative rally that coincidentally had a few nazis show up. The reality is the opposite - this was a neo-nazi rally that had a few conservatives show up. They organized it. They were the bulk of the attendees. And I have no kind words for people who notice that they are marching alongside people carrying nazi flags and decide, “Well, not my problem, gonna keep marching”. As one of my colleagues here in Germany put it, if you have a group of 100 people marching together, and one of them is carying a swastika flag, you have a group of 100 neo-nazis, because anyone else wouldn’t be marching with the fuckhead who brought a swastika flag. If you march with that person, you have no right to complain when someone calls you a nazi.

So that’s the context here - Unite The Right was by neo-nazis, for neo-nazis, and a great many of the participants were, in fact, neo-nazis. Then this happened:

Given the context of a neo-nazi rally where neo-nazis beat a black man and drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, the statement that “there are good people on both sides”… No, there aren’t. One side contains white nationalists, neo-nazis, and people willing to march with white nationalists and neo-nazis. There is nobody in that group who is a good person. There just isn’t.

Do you have any examples of this? Because a quick google search finds articles from NewRepublic and TheAtlantic which explain exactly the context I’m explaining here, and explain why Trump’s statement is insane, but do not misrepresent him as defending Nazis or KKK members. In fact, they even quote him as saying “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists”! What they did was (accurately) point out that it’s totally bullshit.


The real news is that Trump looked at an event organized by and for neo-nazis and white supremacists, where a counterprotester was killed when a nazi drove his car into a crowd and at least one man was brutally beaten by a mob of nazis, and thought, “Hey, I should say something defending these people”. Maybe he was too stupid to figure out that it was mostly neo-nazis at that event, maybe he didn’t care. Either way, it was a fucking horrible thing to say. This statement wasn’t just panned by the mainstream media. Republicans in congress also responded with disgust:

That evening, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the march organizers were “100 percent to blame,” adding, “Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.” Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio), accused the president of deflecting attention from the killing of Heather Heyer “by a bigoted follower of the white supremacist movement.” Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, another 2016 primary rival, tweeted that this was a time for moral clarity. “I urge @POTUS to unite the country, not parse the assignment of blame.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., that the president’s moral authority has been complicated by his response to Charlottesville. Saying Trump had tried to draw “moral equivalency” between the white supremacists and the counterdemonstrators, he told the paper, “I think you are either missing four centuries of history in this nation or you are trying to make something what it’s not.”

On Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, took the criticism another step by questioning the president’s “stability” and “competence.” He said that Trump has not shown that he understands “the character of this nation” and that without that understanding, “Our nation is going to go through great peril.”

What - did they fall for the “fake news” too? Or did they (rightfully) see the president defending a mob of violent racists and fascists and say, “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?!” Oh, and Trump eventually walked that statement back, in a speech he considered the biggest mistake of his presidency.

Actually, virtually every single news source I can find that discussed the tape included that statement you claim is “left out”. The NYTimes included it. ABC included it. Slate included it. Vox included it. The Guardian included it. I am honestly struggling to find a news source that left out that statement you see as so exculpatory. Where are you getting your left-wing news from?

The problem here is that this really doesn’t paint him in as good of a light as you think it does. “I just go in and grab them by the pussy and they won’t stop me because I’m rich, famous and powerful”… Yeaaaah, that’s still sexual assault. It really doesn’t help that some 22 women have accused him of sexual assault.

Okay so part of the problem here is that these are questions that need to be asked. “Are we putting children into concentration camps” is not something you’d hope we’d have to ask, but, unfortunately, it is - we’re separating countless children from their parents at the border in a new and virtually unprecedented policy, and the reality essentially boils down to kiddie jails. “Are republicans intentionally and systematically trying to disenfranchise democratic and black voters” - again, not a question you want to be asking, but there’s not really an alternative explanation for republican behavior on voting rights that makes any goddamn sense whatsoever.

The media could just ignore these unfortunate implications, but this would be a completely untenable dereliction of duty from the press. Like, remember the IRS scandal? If we were to take your advice on this, why should the media even investigate this as if there were something there? It’s so unfair to assume wrongdoing, I’m sure there’s a legitimate explanation for it. (As it turns out, there was. Didn’t stop the news media from harping on it for ages and ages.)

But beyond that, no, it’s really not the media’s fault that there’s such a vicious divide. The problem is not “the media reported that Trump said there were good people on both sides of a neo-nazi rally”. The problem is that Trump actually said there were good people on both sides of a neo-nazi rally! The problem is not that the media reported that Trump’s nominee for the supreme court had allegations of sexual assault against him, the problem was that Trump’s nominee for the supreme court actually did have allegations of sexual assault against him. The media isn’t creating these divisive issues. It’s just reporting that they exist.

See, it’s funny you mention that, because “a few crank websites and Fox News” is a group that includes the largest media websites in the world (Breitbart is shockingly huge), the largest news broadcaster in the world, and also the entirety of the right-wing media sphere.

It’s also funny you mention it, because the problem is that when the GOP does it, what they’re doing is actually fake news. Not just stripping something of the context (which, by the way, doesn’t really happen in the way you accused the mainstream media here) or questioning what possible nefarious conclusions could be behind something for which there’s no clear honest explanation, but just actively making shit up. One of the most memorable cases recently was the Seth Rich case, where Sean Hannity picked up an insane conspiracy theory regarding the death of a DNC staffer and then proceeded to ride it until Seth Rich’s parents literally fucking sued him.

Or how about the whole “migrant caravan” thing which Fox has been pushing with the help of the president? It’s an absurd non-issue, to the point where even Shep Smith felt the need to call out his own network for bullshit fearmongering. And of course, Fox has made up all manner of just completely insane lies about the caravan - one Fox News guest went so far as to say that the caravan was carrying “smallpox, leprosy, and Tuberculosis”. Fucking really! I’d laugh, except this guy said this while being presented as a guest expert on the largest cable news channel in an attempt to fearmonger over a group of refugees some 1000 miles away, which sort of dampens the hilarity of the statement.

In fact, there have been numerous studies into this, the majority of which have found that Fox News viewers are among the most ill-informed people in America. Watching Fox actively makes you dumber in many regards. And that was before Trump.

But this is kind of an off-topic aside, so I won’t harp on it further. But really, what you’re calling “fake news” is bias and spin. What I’m calling fake news is actually fabricated stories.

As others have pointed out, this is a comically inaccurate depiction of the events in Charlottesville.

Unite the Right rally

Do you still want to argue that there are good people on that side? Or that some bad people just happened to show up?

They can, doesn’t mean that they will. If they were already predisposed to go with the news that supported their assumptions, then that is easy, they have friends and family and neighbors who talk and gossip. They believe the things that reinforce their opinions, and dismiss those who challenge them. Nothing new.

And what you are saying is that there are no longer any papers that are not partisan rags or that have trained journalists who have any semblance of ethics?

Sounds like you have made up your mind, and that you will only go to your favorite source.

Those were the only contentious times? Those were the only times when the news was criticised?

We’ve always had controversy, and we have always had a distrust of news that doesn’t fit our world view.

Nothing new.

Sure, the pace of information has increased. A rumor can spread much, much faster than it could when communication was no faster than a rider on horseback. But people have always made up rumors, they have always spread those rumors.

Nothing new.

If you live in a farming village in Ohio in 1823, you can do the same.

It was always possible. If you didn’t want to see things that you didn’t want to see, you didn’t look at them. There have been people printing papers since the printing press was invented, making pamphlets and flyers, all to tell people the slant that they want to put out there.

Sure, if you read a paper of record of the time, then you may encounter articles that conflict with your world view, but that is the case today as well. There have always been alternative news sources that people could turn to if the comprehensive news sources did not meet your fancy, if you though that that paper written by the elites was out of touch, and that the pamphlet put out by your buddy is a more accurate representation.

None of this is new. It is only that it is new to specific people and populations who do not understand that it is not new, and find it confusing and difficult to manage and navigate, because it is new to them.

Fox News, as extensively noted here, is a disgraceful cesspool of extreme partisan bias and has been so since its founding. Its purpose is to advance the Republican agenda, period. So it does not “lead to” questions about legitimate news organizations practicing real journalism. Your reasoning makes no sense.

I haven’t seen Samantha Bee’s show and I haven’t watched the Daily Show since Jon Stewart left, but I can comment on that show when Stewart was there, and on the current Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The approach there is to report on real news events that are ridiculous or outrageous and put a comedic spin on them, but they don’t just make up the events – the events are real, and I’ve seen Democratic politicians ridiculed as well as Republicans. Where’s the bias? It seems to be that a lot more Republicans tend to make fools of themselves, especially in the era of Trump, and comedians everywhere make the most of it. That’s not anyone being “biased”.

Holy fuck no it wasn’t. It was explicitly a demonstration by white supremacists that was counter-demonstrated against by people who aren’t racists and think others should not be racists too. Your mischaracterization of this makes me ignore the rest of your post.

I read his whole post, and the next one. Between those two posts there’s like 20-30 falsehoods.

His argument that there is a kernel of truth to Trump’s cries of “Fake news” required him to believe and pass along 20-30 false statements.

That is how fake news works.