Saturday, January 14, 2017

CNN and Trump Battle Over the Existence of Reality (Video)

President Elect Donald J. Trump and CNN are at war to determine who are the real purveyors of fake news. In a muddy game of uncertainty where the delineation between truth and fiction are blurred CNN is standing up to the President-Elect and taking on the darkness of his post factual dystopia.

The President-Elect is once again furious that media is airing stories that are unfavorable to him. Trump's most recent outburst was directed at CNN and took place at his first news conference since winning the election. Trump was enraged that CNN reported on a story from an online media outlet claiming that the Russians have compromising information on Trump.
The unverified kompromat was first mentioned by Mother Jones writer David Corn in late October. More recently Buzzfeed's Ken Bensinger wrote a piece on the leaked dossier which is ostensibly the work of a former British intelligence official (now in hiding). The dossier states that the Russians have information on Trump that could be used to blackmail him. It specifically states that the Russians have been "cultivating, supporting and assisting" Trump for years. The dossier also includes allegations that there was contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives during the campaign. To see the full document click here.

As reported by Katie Herzog in Grist, climate scientists have been contending with fake news for a long time. "The notion of ‘fake news’ is hardly new to climate scientists like myself," Penn State climatologist Michael Mann told Grist. "We’ve known about it (and written about it) for years."

Trump hates real news because it inevitably discredits him. His latest vendetta has targeted CNN. The President-Elect refused to answer questions from CNN journalist Jim Acosta at the recent news conference calling the channel "fake news". This is an old tactic that Trump has used throughout the campaign. He always accuses his adversaries of the very thing he himself is guilty of (remember "crooked Hilary").

To their credit, CNN's reporters are standing up to Trump and standing for truth in the process. Anderson Cooper called out Kellyanne Conway saying, "Given what’s happened today… it seems like that’s a better question for her. I agree with Kellyanne Conway. If we were wrong, we would admit it. But we were not wrong. She was. The question is will she hold herself and her team to the same standard?"

Jake Tapper summarized Trump and his team when he said, "this has been the modus operandi for President-elect Trump and his team, to say what they believe to be true even if it is disputed by facts, and then stick with it… It’s a fact-free campaign."

Jim Sciutto referred to Trump's, "hostility to facts… and a concerted effort by Donald Trump and his team to call into question the very existence of facts, the very existence of non-partisan news."

Jim Acosta added, "There’s something worse than fake news and that’s the denial of real news… They’re just not in command of the facts. This has been a pattern for the Trump campaign and now the Trump transition where they don’t like the news that’s being reported and they go after the messenger."

While the President-Elect calls news outlets that he does not like fake news, some, including Micheal Moore have called Trump the godfather of fake news referring to the birther scandal that the President-Elect was instrumental in fomenting.

When CNN takes on accusations of fake news and calls out Trump and his team they are doing important work. This is not only about defending democracy, this is about fact based reality. It is absolutely essential for voters to make informed choices based on reason and it is even more important that elected officials make science-based policy decisions.

Fake news interferes with our understanding of facts and science. It offers a non-factual narrative that serves an ideological agenda and/or commercial interests. Fake news leads people confuse falsehood and fact. For example, even though Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by the largest margin ever, many people believe Trump when he says that he won in a "landslide". The Hill's Juan Williams quotes a poll that indicted 52 percent of Republicans think Trump won the popular vote.

Sophisticated fake news apparatuses have been created by some of the most powerful interests in the world. This includes governments like Nazi Germany and modern day Russia. It also includes industries like big oil, big tobacco and big sugar.  Fake news is also produced by lobby groups like ALEC and think tanks like the Heritage Fund and the Cato Institute. Traditional media has also inadvertently helped fake news by publishing and airing sensationalist stories to sell copies and increase ratings.

Trump and other conservatives use fake news to control the narrative. However, conservatives are hardly the first or the only group to try to control people's perception of reality. Fake news is as old as journalism itself. It has been present throughout the early history of the press dating all the way back to early news ballads. However the global reach of digital media is a game changer that amplifies the power of fake news exponentially.

Fake news helped to get Trump elected by creating an environment in which the facts did not matter. This helped many voters to ignore the long list of solid reasons why Trump was unfit to be president.

This kind of fake news has set progress back years, if not decades, Mann said. It’s a “crime against the planet,” he told Grist, and a “crime against humanity.” All the news that’s unfit to print

The fact that he has managed to control a portion of the narrative thus far does not make Trump a brilliant master manipulator, it simply means that he is a bully who knows no bounds. He is audacious to be sure, but he has yet to offer any indication that he has anything remotely resembling a strategy. While Republican lawmakers may have a plan Trump is fumbling his way from one day to the next. The President-Elect is a deer in the headlights who is dreaming that he is a lion.

Fake News is Serious but so are Efforts to Combat it 
The Science of Storytelling: Making Facts Matter in a Post-Factual World

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