Saturday, December 03, 2016

The "fake news" con: a case study...

The media have found a creative new way to explain away Hillary’s Clinton’s crushing defeat and their own humiliation. They have dubbed the agent of their mutual undoing “fake news” and talk about the phenomenon as though it made real sense.

In an all too typical New York Times opinion piece this week Michael Lynch defines “fake news” as “pure fiction masquerading as truth” and presents it exclusively as a “right wing” phenomenon. Like many of his colleagues, Lynch suggests the Russian government was involved in planting fake news items and believes that such items, regardless of source, may have cost Hillary Clinton the election.

To test Lynch’s thesis, we might profitably select a presumed “fake news” item and follow its course through what the Clintons once called the “communication stream of conspiracy commerce.” In August 2010, the Times identified a news item simple enough and seemingly fake enough, “Obama uses a phony Social Security number,” to makes a useful case study.

Tracking this story, one finds its source not in in Russia, but in Ohio. The person responsible for surfacing the number is a licensed private investigator named Susan Daniel. In 2009, troubled by the drift of the country under Barack Obama, she and fellow investigator Neil Sankey began to plow through proprietary databases and investigate Obama on their own time. What they discovered is that from 1986 on Barack Obama has been using a Social Security number that seemed to originate in Connecticut. Full story...

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