I could write volumes about the “fake news” scandal.
The stories began breaking in major media outlets while I was out of the country over the last two weeks.
What we euphemistically call “the mainstream media” were looking for explanations for how Donald Trump won the election, despite their best efforts to label him a “predator,” a “fascist,” a “racist,” a “jingoist” and a “misogynist.”
A young, obscure assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College gave them the ammo they needed – only it turned out she was firing blanks.
Melissa “Mish” Zimdars put together a list of what she categorized as “fake news sites” – among them WND.com, Breitbart.com and the heroic Project Veritas founded by James O’Keefe. In other words, she smeared the most aggressive watchdogs on government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption, those who challenged both the political and media establishments, journalists who didn’t run with the wolf pack of the “progressive” partisan apparatchiks.
And what were Ms. Zimdars’ credentials for smearing pioneering new media enterprises as “fakers”?
It turns out she had never actually worked in the media – only researched it and taught it. In fact, her experience in academia consisted of 15 months of teaching what she had never done professionally.
Let me unashamedly contrast her “experience” with my own.
For 20 years, I was an investigative reporter, editor, foreign correspondent, editor in chief of major market dailies, expert witness in journalistic standards and practices, journalism professor at UCLA, magazine editor, founder of a non-profit journalism center and winner of awards for headline writing, honesty and integrity in journalism and religion writing, a consultant for major media outlets including NBC, Paramount Pictures and New World Media. After that, I founded the first independent online news operation, which I have run to this day – the one you’re reading now, served as a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, wrote a nationally syndicated column and contributed to the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, TV Guide, the Sacramento Bee and the Boston Globe among dozens of other journals. On the side, I wrote or collaborated on more than a dozen books that sold millions, founded a book publishing company that has boasted the highest percentage of New York Times bestsellers of any in the world over the last 15 years and produced 10 documentaries including the best-selling faith movie of 2012 and 2013.
I provide this brief biographical sketch to pose this question: Between Ms. Zimdars and me, who do you think is in a better position to determine real news from “fake news”?
If someone would like to sponsor a debate on the subject of “fake news” between me and Ms. Zimdars, I think it could provide some good entertainment and enlightenment on the state of the media world.
I understand she can be reached at the following email address: email@example.com.
Let me make my position on “fake news” clear. It does exist. It is most evident in the revolving door between politics and the media – a phenomenon that doesn’t bother the establishment media or establishment politics one little bit.
One thing you will note about my bio and the resumes of other news professionals at WND.com is the absence of any interest in partisan politics or the desire to be part of government.
That’s the nexus of where most “fake news” actually starts. When political activists can move seamlessly from election campaigns to directing newsrooms and back again, the line between news and political agitprop is blurred to the point of journalistic prostitution. Yet, it takes place at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and every other corporate media outlet, as well as the semi-official, government-subsidized mouthpieces like NPR and PBS.
I do, however, thank Ms. Zimdars and the major media that touted her “list,” however misguided and wrong-headed it was. Why? Because there really is such a phenomenon as “fake news.”
It’s found in scandalously phony reports like the one published by Ms. Zimdars and broadcast nationally by outlets thrilled by the condemnation of their anti-establishment competition. (To her credit, following WND’s report on Ms. Zimdars’ effort, she pulled it from her own website, though it circulates forever on, ironically, “fake news sites.”)
It’s found in websites without names and addresses associated with it that I strongly suspect are fronts for those who seek to undermine enterprises like WND.com. (One notoriously exploitive example is called WorldNewsDaily, which intentionally and shamelessly seeks confusion with the oldest, enduring similarly named site you are reading now.)
How do we put an end to it?
In one word – discernment.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.