Who really is to blame for “Fake News”?


People have lost faith in media outlets for reporting “fake news.” Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Mayra Figueroa Vazquez, Co Editor-in-Chief

Recently it seems that everything in the media gets pegged as “Fake News”, but who really is to blame for this? The idea of “Fake News” isn’t really new, it’s been around since the beginning of newspapers. It’s been weaponized as propaganda and used as a form of advertisement, the only reason it’s being talked about so much is because the internet has increased its velocity and reach.

For the past two months, according to CNN, media outlets across 42 states have released statements to disprove President Donald Trump’s accusation that journalist are to blame for all of this, but just how off are his claims?

Journalist are held up to a code of ethics. As the San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Team claims, “journalists seek the truth and report it while minimizing harm every day. They don’t promote any single person, ideology or political agenda. Their only agenda is the truth.” While this statement does apply to most journalists, it’s important to know that they are still human, prone to make mistakes.

Discredited journalists like Stephen Glass who published lies for over three years, Sabrina Rubin Erdely who published an article of false gang rape accusations or Brian Williams who exaggerated and changed a story over time, have casted a dark cloud over the reputation of all journalist.

Despite this there are journalist with integrity who try and inform the public and protect them of their right. For example, Daniel Ellsberg, exposed the truth about what was happening in the Vietnam War by obtaining the Pentagon Papers or Bob Woodward who broke the story of Watergate.

The public’s faith in the media has slowly decreased over the years, but what has really discredited the media is the current administration. Trump since before he was elected into office has been bashing on the media. On February 17, 2018 Trump published on his twitter “the FAKE NEWS media,” in reference to organizations such as The New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, CNN and others, “is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

Since his placement in office his claims have not slowed down, labeling almost everything as “Fake News.” In a debate hosted by the Intelligence Squared podcast, author, american lawyer and professor at Columbia Law School, Tim Wu stated, “you have a commander in chief who has understood the most powerful techniques of propaganda, frankly a fascist enterprise, to try to force the people to listen to what he has to say all the time.”

Trump has managed to hinder the voice of the people, turn them against one another. He has created an environment where people can’t communicate hindering their ability to direct change in policy. Michael M. Grynbaum published an article in the New York Times responding to Trump’s allegations. Grynbaum stated that “the language that Mr. Trump deployed (is) more typically used by leaders to refer to hostile foreign governments or subversive organizations. It also echoed the language of autocrats who seek to minimize dissent.”

Regardless of the fabricated stories and the factless allegations all the blame can’t be pinned on the journalist and administration. The public is also at fault because they don’t conduct any research of their own, they believe everything they read and fall for ‘infotainment’ claiming to be news.

This generation of readers tends to get the majority of their news from social media websites rather than reliable sources. They lack the initiative to think critically and question everything. Facebook should not be you main news source.

“Fake News” is rapidly spreading and everyone is part of the problem.