CNN repeatedly attempted earlier this week to force executives of Facebook to explain why they haven’t banned Alex Jones’ Infowars from using the social-media platform to publicize its stories and videos.
At a meeting where the social-media giant’s execs tried to explain their new battle plan to fight fake news on the platform, the network’s Oliver Darcy attacked Infowars with the clear purpose of forcing Facebook’s hand.
The story is posted at CNNMedia under the tendentious headline, “Facebook touts fight on fake news, but struggles to explain why InfoWars isn't banned.” The webpage does not alert the readers that what appears is Darcy’s opinion.
Facebook Attacked, Then Infowars
Darcy punched twice: once at Facebook, then, of course, at Infowars.
Facebook officials struggled on Wednesday to explain why it permits InfoWars, a media organization that is one of the world's leading purveyors of conspiracy theories, to have a page on its platform.
The company's failure to produce a satisfactory answer on the matter came at an event Facebook organized in its Manhattan offices where the company aimed to tout its commitment to combating fake news and misinformation.
Darcy’s assumption is that Facebook owes him a “satisfactory answer,” an interesting assumption for a writer billed as a “reporter,” as opposed to one billed as a columnist. Reporters, we are told, are supposed to dispassionately report the news; columnists offer opinions.
Darcy also offered this:
When asked by this reporter how the company could claim it was serious about tackling the problem of misinformation online while simultaneously allowing InfoWars to maintain a page with nearly one million followers on its website, Hegeman said that the company does not “take down false news.”
CNN’s “senior media reporter” continued the attack with a paragraph accusing Infowars of being “notorious for spreading demonstrably false information and conspiracy theories on a host of issues,” and using Facebook “to spread baseless conspiracy theories.”
Maybe that’s true. The question would be why CNN’s “senior media reporter” is taking sides. Perhaps because that’s what the media have been doing these days, even if they disguise their biases with passive voice, as Darcy does in closing his piece.
“In recent months, InfoWars has been drawn into the spotlight,” he wrote, and “has found itself under pressure.”
That locution permits Darcy, a former editor at TheBlaze, to avoid admitting that “reporters” have “drawn” Infowars “into the spotlight” and applied the “pressure.”
AFP Worries, Too
Meanwhile, Agence France-Press offered its own take on “fake news,” noting that “false information is saturating political debate worldwide and undermining an already weak level of trust in the media and institutions, spreading further than ever on powerful social networks.”
AFP took particular note of President Trump’s successful campaign to finger the media for spreading fake news.
Trump, AFP reported, “has hurt the credibility of the US news media and led some to describe the current period as a ‘post-truth era’ — an age without a shared reality.”
Concerns about “shared reality” are somewhat strange coming from the media, given their warm embrace of those whose “shared reality” includes believing, mistakenly, they are members of the opposite sex.
“The truth is no longer seen as important,” said John Huxford of Illinois State University, whose research focuses on false information, adding that “lies and fabrication even seem to bolster one's reputation and political prowess among their core supporters.”
Oddly, AFP didn’t report on any of the fake or even simply biased news that undermine the media’s credibility. A recent example is the Reuters editor who flatly blamed the president because a homicidal maniac opened fired in the newsroom the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland:
This is what happens when @realDonaldTrump calls journalists the enemy of the people. Blood is on your hands, Mr. President. Save your thoughts and prayers for your empty soul.
Nor did AFP mention erroneous stories from major newspapers as one possible explanation of the president’s concern about “fake news.” One example: The New York Times veteran congressional reporter who did not know when the vice president can vote in the Senate. Other stories might contain three or four errors requiring a cascade of corrections.
AFP is tracking, however, the laws against spreading “fake news” that some countries have adopted, noting that “critics warn of the danger to freedom of expression and the media.”