Competition for Lies and Distortion

A few stories about Fake News have crossed my well-worn desk this week.
One is from America the Good and the Bad, and it looks like they’re quoting another source on this:

IN THE PAST six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

The other example is from a site called Church Militant (written by and for Catholics) and the group and its message was examined by the New York Times. They claim the Times distorted the views of someone quoted in the article:

The Times did this in this report by using a quote from Theology Professor John Cavadini at Notre Dame, whose responses they manipulated to try and give the impression that we here at Church Militant are distorting the actual theological meaning of the Church Militant. Professor Cavadini gave a superb explanation of the Church Militant in theological terms, which exactly coincided with the one I gave during the interview.

He also told the Times that sometimes there is an intersection of this theological concept with the secular world, as he put it, that spiritual struggle sometimes requires social and political correlates. But they chose not to print that further explanation. How do I know? Well, I communicated with Professor Cavadini after the article came out, and he told me that he told them that. [There is a transcript of Cavadini’s interview. Never talk to a reporter without your own recorder running the whole time! — Dave]

The Times created an area of disagreement where none existed, according to the Church Militant. By the way, they’re not militant in the military way.  They seem to believe in a fairly active presence of the church in public life.

The specifics on either of these stories don’t matter to me. Journalists should be the last folks asking for Fake News to be stopped. Clearly the Times, the Washington Post and every outlet the news business have screwed up a time or two. In some cases laziness is to blame, and at times reporters carry their own preconceived notions to the story.

At Times, they are just lying twerps.

There are bad actors trying to twist opinion with fake news and unsubstantiated stories. The difference now is that The Times, Post, and the TV news outlets have competition for lies and distortions.

And they don’t like it.

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