2017 Resolution: a Better Free Press


 by Marion Marks

“Surprises” in presidential, as well as other, elections are the norm, and 2016 was no exception. The spaceship did not come down from Mars and impregnate Nancy Reagan! But, WHOPPERS this year were really not difficult to clarify so we could focus on facts, even if the facts didn’t support our desires.

The issue of these fake stories, and the Russian hacking was that too many people spent too much time and resources away from the central issues of the democratic election process. It should be as simple as teaching a child to bat in baseball or  softball: Keep your eye on the ball! 

Here were two very disconcerting rumors that made the news and election cycle in late October and early November along with rebuttal facts:

Khizr Khan was paid $375,000 by the Clinton Foundation after speaking at the Democratic National Convention. – NOPE – FULL STORY.

ORIGIN:The speaking appearance of Muslim attorney and Gold Star father Khizr Khan at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, at which he criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump for his lack of empathy for immigrants, unleashed a firestorm of rebukes and attempts to discredit him, including unsubstantiated allegations that Khan has “deep legal and financial connections” to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

One of those attempts hinged on an image (see in linked story) purporting to show a Wells Fargo bank statement in the name of Khan’s law firm which lists a $375,000 wire transfer from The Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton’s nonprofit organization devoted to addressing global issues. Exactly how and where it originated is unknown, but the image made one of its first appearances on a page dated 4 August 2016.

Hillary Clinton had cancelled a campaign event due to chants of “lock her up” was shared as genuine news. –NOPEFULL STORY.

ORIGIN: On 1 November 2016, the web site Red State Watcher reported that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had canceled a campaign event in Florida after Donald Trump supporters bombarded with “lock her up” chants.

clinton-rally-alleged-scared-to-get-out-of-carRed State Watcher published two pieces of “evidence” to back up their claim: a photograph from the New York Times showing Hillary Clinton walking through a crowd as some people held “Trump/Pence” signs, and a Facebook post from an anonymous person claiming that Clinton was too afraid to get out of her car.

The web site failed to note that these two pieces of evidence contradicted one another — if Clinton was too afraid to get out of her car, how was she also photographed talking to the crowd, clearly not in a vehicle?

2016 was certainly a year for fake news to flow along the internet. It must be a resolution for more citizens that 2017 becomes a year when the truth is more important that juicy gossip and rumors designed to support political gain.

Democracy must maintain a foundation of accurate media that is NOT governed by political ambition. A free press, however it is supported, was and is a sign of vibrant democratic process, open to ideas and the evolution of political, economic and educational growth. Just as government should not censor the press, the premeditated interjection of fake news into the stream cycle abuses the intent and principle of freedom of the press.

The path of least resistance too many media outlets is to republish press releases, because it’s far easier to pass along cheap, free stories that satisfy the prurient interests of news addicts. Investigative journalism requires laborious digging that the rapid news cycle does not reward.

It may be a naive expectation, but my wish for 2017 is that the public will have greater respect for journalism and a desire for accurate reporting. My toast is to those who live this life and believe in the principles that a democratic country will respect a media committed to these principles.