Saturday, 11 February 2017

Fake News Phenomenon Not New

Fake News seems to be in the news quite a lot recently as though it is a new phenomenon but it has been with us for as long as i have been reading and watching news and we then called it satire.
There was even a newspaper, The Sunday Sport, which was nothing but fake news with front pages such as 'WW2 bomber found on Moon' and 'NHS Pay For Rippers Sex Change'.
With the rise of the internet and social media, fake news seems to be escalating the problem as the general public seems to have developed a capacity to believe anything that’s put in front of them.
We had Brass Eye, a brilliant show which was massive in the 90s which was a parody of a news show and would dupe big name celebrities in supporting absurd, outrageous campaigns such as the anti-paedophile charity Nonce-Sense leading to the amazingly brilliant TV moment where Phil Collins solemnly looked at the camera and saying the immortal words: 'I'm talking Nonce Sense!'
Anyone with half a brain cell would know that the likes of the Sunday Sport and Brass Eye were satirical and not to be taken seriously but fake news has been around in 'proper' journalism since the printing press was invented.
The tabloid newspapers in the UK are renown for less than truthful stories, Jasper Carrot made a career on the basis that The Sun was printing absurdly inaccurate stories and despite the high profile Leveson Inquiry, still do today.
Fox News is a byword for laughably bad journalism to prove it isn't just the gutter press that indulges in the process of 'making stuff up'.
What we once called satire or parody is now presented as fake news but when the President or Prime Minister says it, it has an ulterior motive because more than anything, they don't want journalists reporting anything that may show them in a bad light so if they bandy about the 'fake news' title, then all journalism gets tarred with that brush and is diminished in the eyes of the readers and viewers.
So Presidents and Prime Ministers can come out with the most outlandish claims and wag a finger at anyone who questions them but that is exactly what journalists should be doing, questioning.
If we don't, we end up in a situation after 9/11 where George W Bush and his administration ride roughshod over the truth and the poor American media failed to fully question the absurd claims and we cartwheeled into unjustifiable wars.
The internet may have amplified it but fake news has always been with us and i refuse to believe that the public has lost the ability to recognise satire from proper news and the whole 'fake news' thing is a way for the powerful to try and shut down debate on their own absurd claims and outright lies.

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