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Whose Fake News Gets a Pass? NYT Advocates Internet Censorship


#1

Whose Fake News Gets a Pass? NYT Advocates Internet Censorship

Robert Parry

In its lead editorial on Sunday, The New York Times decried what it deemed “The Digital Virus Called Fake News” and called for Internet censorship to counter this alleged problem, taking particular aim at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for letting “liars and con artists hijack his platform.”


#2

This is the type of "news" the New York Times feel "responsible journalists" provide.


#4

Censorship of the press is not being proposed. Another internet fake news story.


#5

And so it starts the first shot at free press has been fired....Many more to come....Trump hates the press but loves Fox news...Whose news do you think will be called false news....I believe it will be any news that is negative toward the GOP and Trump.


#6

There has to be a system that differentiates between facts and lies.

I'd like to see all internet articles classified as follows:

  • News: this is where there is independent verification of facts and figures. So the whole article is fact checked.

  • Commentary: this is opinions about fact checked news

  • Blog: No facts needed. Just opinions

Fact checking can be done by any crowdsourced effort as long as they produce court class evidence. Then sources can be rated according to their adherence to the above classifications.


#7

Screw all MSM.

Many MSM are almost insolvent anyway since they peddle falsehood on a regular basis. Even Alex Jones website gets more traffic than the times since even his conspiracy theories have more material fact in them that establishment brainwashing rags. What's really bugging the New York Times is that news is free this century.

Time to sell that big useless building in NYC.


#8

Actually, even suppressing "news" that is truly false is censorship. There may be some argument for it. But I can't say that I am tempted. Who are we going to trust with that decision?


#9

Interesting idea, but the categories are not that simple. Having an opinion about what may be factual only puts the problem at one further remove.

We do have fact-checkers, though they have little institutional power. It strikes me that this may be the best of all possible worlds. How effectively does one "fact check" loaded language? So, what do we do when terrorists and freedom fighters and civilians all refer to the same people, which of course they usually will.

As another point, the word blogs already refers to a sort of PHP-driven linked and networked presentation of electronic text: this, what we are doing. Despite the reputation, there is little to drive its being more or less factual or accurate (not the same, is it?) than professional or academic verbiage except for the economic factors distorting those systems.


#10

The NYT dislikes competition and wishes to use its long-term embedded and in-bed status with government to shut its competition down.

The NYT has even called for criminal prosecution of its own sources--and never once, to my knowledge, the prosecution of any one of those who have proven incorrect.

20th-Century-style "objective" journalism has largely failed. The idea at the time was that factors of name and status and responsibility would motivate institutions to reliably produce accurate reporting. Academics and others could then cite sources that could be regarded in a rough and practical way as "factual" because the source had a vested interest in being reliable.

This fails increasingly as incomes and wealth become unequally distributed; this happens because institutional motivation coincides more and more with sources of money and because these sources ally themselves with power. As of 1989, when Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky brought out Manufacturing Consent, the NYT and similar papers already got some 60% of their money from advertising. I suspect that most of us will find the five filters that they name for news to be pretty self-explanatory, at least at the level of first approach:

  • Owners (it has to please the boss)
  • Advertisers (it has to please the money)
  • Sources (Regular news comes from regular sources--government, military, business; if the source dislikes the treatment, it dries up)
  • Flak (criticism by a vocal part of readership)
  • Anticommunist ideology

This was at the end of the cold war. I suspect that we might substitute "imperialist ideology" or "neoliberal ideology" and be approximately accurate, but just ideology is probably the most universal.

Even at the apex of so-called "objective reporting," objectivity was generally understood by practitioners to mean representing "both sides of the story," which in American political reporting was generally taken to mean Republican and Democrat. At any point that official party lines strayed from the truth, then, objectivity was taken by the industry as a whole to mean self-imposed inaccuracy, whether by omission or other distortion.

Of course there were triumphs of reporting in which individuals stood on principle and convinced institutions to tell the truth, often despite risks. Of course, as incomes and power become more centralized, the market-driven and government-driven obstacles to honesty become greater, and the chances of successful opposition reduced.

It is very telling that the NYT wishes to characterize falsehood as something digital. Digital productions, as a whole, are under reduced sway by commodity markets because it does not cost as much to produce or distribute content digitally over a network as it does to print and deliver news or to film and broadcast. A small oligarchy can oversee monopolized information systems with relative ease. That is harder where one can write and not be rich. Cases of oligarchic reporting that we here are likely familiar with include the NYT cheerleading for invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 into 2003, including the oft-repeated lies around WMD and so forth. Another is the major news services taking copy from Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a mutual effort to sink the Sanders nomination this summer--and quite likely from the start of the campaign.

It is way past time to bury this notion that large or rich institutions produce accurate news. It is also past time to bury the idea that the apparent withholding of detail and belief and personality and context from reporting assures a reader of "objectivity" or accuracy. It is probably also time to bury the presumed primacy of the NYT and WaPo and CNN and (good heavens!) Fox and other institutions that play so unkindly on these antique notions.

The NYT wants to stop being scooped by the likes of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and Glen Greenwald and Wikileaks. The NYT wants to settle into a warm tub of Beltway approval. Thank goodness we no longer have to depend on the likes of them!


#11

Careful, TJ! I am sure they can repurpose the building. We don't want to convince them to blow it up or anything.


#12

I've followed Santa's flight path every Christmas Eve. Now you tell me it's fake news? Thanks alot


#13

As those who indulge in fake news seem incapable of the necessary critical thinking skills to determine truth from lies, some assistance may be required ~ just remember, Facebook isn't a government agency, they're able to do whatever they want with their platform ... you can call such corporate tyranny, if you'd like, but so long as they're even-handed in censoring the fringe, and there's recourse from a team of fact checkers for fake news providers who either change their ways or provide specific articles which are deemed factual, I'd be okay with it ... “Facebook says it is working on weeding out such fabrications. It said last Monday that it would no longer place Facebook-powered ads on fake news websites, a move that could cost Facebook and those fake news sites a lucrative source of revenue. Earlier on the same day, Google said it would stop letting those sites use its ad placement network. These steps would help, but Facebook, in particular, owes its users, and democracy itself, far more. Facebook has demonstrated that it can effectively block content like click-bait articles and spam from its platform by tweaking its algorithms, which determine what links, photos and ads users see in their news feeds. … Facebook managers are constantly changing and refining the algorithms, which means the system is malleable and subject to human judgment.”


#14

Oh, no. I didn't mean to trash-talk Santa.


#15

Oh sheet!

I hadn't thought of that, I'm afraid! Big useless buildings are their favorite target! And the anniversary of Pearl Harbor is in a few days! With a failing world economy...

I retract my last post. What I meant to say was that I love the New York Times. I'm going to go out and buy a copy right now (if I can find anyone in 7000 miles who still sells it!)


#16

Newspapers are becoming dinosaurs. That is what bugs the N.Y. Times. Also, one reason the N.Y. Times advocates internet censorship is it's habit of being nothing but a stenographer for the war profiteers and a mendacious cheerleader for the Empire; which the net exposes.