Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What’s the Right Strategy to Deal with Fake News?

 

In 2019, Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth was involved in the fakest controversy I can remember seeing in a long while. While on air, he very plainly joked that he hasn’t washed his hands in a decade and didn’t believe in germs. His cohosts immediately laughed and the segment moved on. But those who spend their days determined to destroy Fox News and anyone associated with it pretended as though Hegseth was serious. The controversy has reemerged in the era of COVID, as enemies of Fox News have pointed to Hegseth’s anti-science views on germs and public health to attack the network.

My girlfriend (and Ladybrains co-host) Elisha Krauss recently interviewed Hegseth and asked if I had any questions for him. I was dying to know one thing: Why didn’t he push back hard against all the headlines?

Hegseth seems to believe that it was pointless to stoop down to their level, and so, he never responded to the controversy at all. I’m not sure that was the right strategy. Millions of Americans saw the headlines, but never took the time to actually watch the clip for themselves.

And then there’s the President, who has indicated he has plans to sign some kind of executive order about social media companies. I was uncomfortable when President Obama used executive orders to overreach and use the power of his office, and I’m uncomfortable with President Trump doing it too.

There has to be a middle ground on in dealing with bias between Hegseth and the President.

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Depends. 

    If his EO states that companies that curate, promote/demote certain topics or ban certain points of view are presumed to have surrendered their immunity as content hosts (under article 230) and have become publishers and will be treated as such, then I am ok with that.

     

    • #1
    • May 28, 2020, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. Sabrdance Member

    Meh. My patience is exhausted. Salt the earth.

    • #2
    • May 28, 2020, at 6:37 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. GrannyDude Member

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Depends.

    If his EO states that companies that curate, promote/demote certain topics or ban certain points of view are presumed to have surrendered their immunity as content hosts (under article 230) and have become publishers and will be treated as such, then I am ok with that.

     

    That’s a good idea! 

    • #3
    • May 28, 2020, at 6:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There is no “strategy” if you’re a victim of it. This is an internal problem for the nation’s media. They can either begin to deal with it or continue to slowly destroy themselves. 

    That said, what reforms should news organizations make? 

    1. Raise the standard for publication. The two or more source rule no longer makes sense. Technology has made possible an unprecedented ability for co-ordination of narratives, even among people who seemingly would have no connection with each other. 

    2. End anonymous sourcing. It used to work when the consumers of news trusted the news provider. “Consider the source” is old and solid advice.

    3. If you do use anonymous sources and they burn you – then burn them. It’s not enough to say, “We regret the error.” If someone feeds you bad information the world needs to know who used you.

     

     

     

    • #4
    • May 28, 2020, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Depends.

    If his EO states that companies that curate, promote/demote certain topics or ban certain points of view are presumed to have surrendered their immunity as content hosts (under article 230) and have become publishers and will be treated as such, then I am ok with that.

    It will be challenged in court, of course, and if Trump loses in November, the next president (Biden or whoever) could just reverse it anyway, as Trump did with Obama’s EOs. But all a 230 revision EO would do would be to take Twitter, Facebook and YouTube down to the levels of The New York Times, CNN or Vox, in that the social media sites would no longer get the common carrier exemption and would simply have the same First Amendment rights and risks as other publishers. If they want to edit and/or choose what information goes on their portals, then they have to face the threat of lawsuits for libel/slander over what they do allow to go out.

    It’s also why it will be interesting to see if The New York Times, CNN or Vox do a Pavlovian reaction to any Trump EO and attack his move, by making the argument that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should have greater First Amendment protections than they do, in that they can be common carriers and editors (the main fear going forward I’d have with a Trump EO here is that a President Biden in 2021 could issue his own EO not only countermanding that, but designating The New York Times, CNN or Vox as common carriers, free of all libel restraints above the Times v. Sullivan decision that made it almost impossible for a public figure to sue a media outlet for libel. The only thing that might give president Joe pause there is I don’t think even he could do a Fox News carve-out on that type of EO).

    • #5
    • May 28, 2020, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. E. Kent Golding Member

    Our country would be in better shape if both the bushes , particularly W, had pushed back against the Anti-Republican, Anti- Conservative narratives. I sometimes think they didn’t push back because they agreed with the narratives. The “Bush Lied – People Lied” narrative was particularly dishonest and harmful. I am not sure whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or not, but Saddam certainly claimed to have them, and Bush certainly believed Saddam had them. At worst, Bush was wrong, not dishonest or lying. Yet he never pushed back, which contributed to future Democrat victories. Fair or not, the Georges were a reason I was very anti Jeb.

    • #6
    • May 28, 2020, at 7:14 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Jon1979 Lincoln

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Our country would be in better shape if both the bushes , particularly W, had pushed back against the Anti-Republican, Anti- Conservative narratives. I sometimes think they didn’t push back because they agreed with the narratives. The “Bush Lied – People Lied” narrative was particularly dishonest and harmful. I am not sure whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or not, but Saddam certainly claimed to have them, and Bush certainly believed Saddam had them. At worst, Bush was wrong, not dishonest or lying. Yet he never pushed back, which contributed to future Democrat victories. Fair or not, the Georges were a reason I was very anti Jeb.

    GWB tried to use what had worked for him in Texas when he came to Washington, and his Texas strategy was based on what he saw the media do to his father a few years earlier. When Bush ran against Ann Richards in 1994, he locked in on four basic messages on taxes, crime, schools and federalism, and absolutely would not deviate from his four stump speeches, because he knew the media in Washington had carved his dad up whenever he got the tiniest bit off-message by manipulating what he said (the supermarket scanner incident with The New York Times being the best-known of those).

    Much of the Texas media eventually just stopped covering Bush’s speeches, because they were always the same. But if you were a new audience not traveling with him, they were new, and it got him elected, then re-elected as governor. But what he didn’t count on when he came back to D.C. in 2001 was that even if he stayed locked on message, the media and the Democrats in Washington wouldn’t allow that to be an obstacle, and would simply start making shirt up if Bush wouldn’t gaffe at the same level as his father. That’s expanded into the current Fake News situation with Trump, where if he doesn’t make a daily mistake, the media will make one up for him.

    • #7
    • May 28, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Locke On Member

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Depends.

    If his EO states that companies that curate, promote/demote certain topics or ban certain points of view are presumed to have surrendered their immunity as content hosts (under article 230) and have become publishers and will be treated as such, then I am ok with that.

    I’d be fine with cancelling 230 entirely. It might have been appropriate to keep the plaintiff’s bar from killing social media companies in the cradle. But they are now monopolists with billions of market cap, and taking it upon themselves to try to affect the country’s political system. There’s no reason for that protection to remain.

    What I’d also like to see is antitrust pursuit of the social media monopolists, with the goal of breaking them up. By now, I think we know that regulating them will just invite regulatory capture, effected as soon as the next left administration deliberately turns its back. Creating multiple competitors where there was one monopolist comes closer to putting the market in charge. It’s a fair question as to whether the DOJ could be trusted to vigorously pursue such cases, but then it might be a useful litmus test to smoke out more ‘resisters’ in that agency.

    • #8
    • May 28, 2020, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Roderic Coolidge

    Stop using Facebook and Twitter. There are other platforms.

    • #9
    • May 28, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. RightAngles Member

    Or maybe it’s 4-D Chess. I don’t think you need to feel “uncomfortable” at all. Unless, of course, you don’t like Trump and would prefer to see a Democrat in the White House. But if that’s the case, you might want to remember that these Democrats of today, these are not Democrats, not anymore. Be very careful what you wish for.

    “With his tweets about Scarborough’s intern, Trump set a trap for Twitter.”

     Trump is one of the most calculating, rational people ever to occupy the White House. He’s been faced with a serious problem, which is the fact that the immensely powerful social media giants, which are the gateway to most information nowadays, have already begun trying to sway the election to Biden. Legislatively, thanks to three years of Russiagate and the current hostile House, Trump has been powerless.

    So Trump set a trap. On Wednesday, the Twitter mouse took the bait.

    https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/05/with_his_tweets_about_scarboroughs_intern_trump_set_a_trap_for_twitter.html

    • #10
    • May 28, 2020, at 10:00 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Headedwest Coolidge

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Stop using Facebook and Twitter. There are other platforms.

    Agencies of my local, state and national government use both of those platforms for disseminating important information that I may need to know. If that is going to continue (and there are many advantages for use of channels like that) we are leaving the scope of a private corporation and edging toward public utility territory.

     

     

    • #11
    • May 28, 2020, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    But all a 230 revision EO would do would be to take Twitter, Facebook and YouTube down to the levels of The New York Times, CNN or Vox, in that the social media sites would no longer get the common carrier exemption and would simply have the same First Amendment rights and risks as other publishers.

    This deserves further exploration.

    Yes, it turns them into publishers.

    Which means they are liable for every comment they let pass, from every user, on the platform. The possibilities for litigation are enormous. Ex-GF lies about your breakup – sue the publisher. Published threats are then presumed to come from the newly minted publisher.

    In other words, every comment or link will have to be “moderated” – to an extent unthought of by big tech. Each error is a new opportunity for an offended party to seek damages.

    Think of the Central Park Karen – yes, what she did was wrong, but she suffered real harm as a result of the outrage mob on Twitter. Twitter becomes a publisher, those damages become recoverable.

    • #12
    • May 28, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Our country would be in better shape if both the bushes , particularly W, had pushed back against the Anti-Republican, Anti- Conservative narratives. I sometimes think they didn’t push back because they agreed with the narratives. The “Bush Lied – People Lied” narrative was particularly dishonest and harmful. I am not sure whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or not, but Saddam certainly claimed to have them, and Bush certainly believed Saddam had them. At worst, Bush was wrong, not dishonest or lying. Yet he never pushed back, which contributed to future Democrat victories. Fair or not, the Georges were a reason I was very anti Jeb.

    GWB tried to use what had worked for him in Texas when he came to Washington, and his Texas strategy was based on what he saw the media do to his father a few years earlier. When Bush ran against Ann Richards in 1994, he locked in on four basic messages on taxes, crime, schools and federalism, and absolutely would not deviate from his four stump speeches, because he knew the media in Washington had carved his dad up whenever he got the tiniest bit off-message by manipulating what he said (the supermarket scanner incident with The New York Times being the best-known of those).

    Much of the Texas media eventually just stopped covering Bush’s speeches, because they were always the same. But if you were a new audience not traveling with him, they were new, and it got him elected, then re-elected as governor. But what he didn’t count on when he came back to D.C. in 2001 was that even if he stayed locked on message, the media and the Democrats in Washington wouldn’t allow that to be an obstacle, and would simply start making shirt up if Bush wouldn’t gaffe at the same level as his father. That’s expanded into the current Fake News situation with Trump, where if he doesn’t make a daily mistake, the media will make one up for him.

    David Frum’s (yeah, yeah, I know) “The Right Man” is a pretty respectful look at GWB based on his year of being a WH speechwriter. He obviously did not like Karen Hughes, and he’s not alone. But he credits her for making Bush’s career possible, because she found housewife-y phrases and images that got women to vote for him in greater numbers, generally a conservative weakness. 

    The problem was: the Democrats in Washington were not like the Democrats in the Texas legislature, the country wasn’t all that much like Texas, and when terrorism emerged as the biggest issue of the Bush administration, it didn’t lend itself to the Karen Hughes approach. She was the one who wrote Bush’s limp Awful Office speech on the night of 9/11, and right to the end of her stay her style didn’t grow into what was needed. When Iraq seemed to be going on forever and the country got impatient with the war, all she could give Bush were lines like “We closed the rape rooms. Yes, we closed the rape rooms. And that is good news. For wives. For mothers. For daughters.” The fifteenth time he said that, it failed to have an affect. And the twentieth time people heard it, they scorned him. 

    • #13
    • May 28, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

     

    David Frum’s (yeah, yeah, I know) “The Right Man” is a pretty respectful look at GWB based on his year of being a WH speechwriter. He obviously did not like Karen Hughes, and he’s not alone. But he credits her for making Bush’s career possible, because she found housewife-y phrases and images that got women to vote for him in greater numbers, generally a conservative weakness.

    The problem was: the Democrats in Washington were not like the Democrats in the Texas legislature, the country wasn’t all that much like Texas, and when terrorism emerged as the biggest issue of the Bush administration, it didn’t lend itself to the Karen Hughes approach. She was the one who wrote Bush’s limp Awful Office speech on the night of 9/11, and right to the end of her stay her style didn’t grow into what was needed. When Iraq seemed to be going on forever and the country got impatient with the war, all she could give Bush were lines like “We closed the rape rooms. Yes, we closed the rape rooms. And that is good news. For wives. For mothers. For daughters.” The fifteenth time he said that, it failed to have an affect. And the twentieth time people heard it, they scorned him.

    Richards tried to position herself between women voters and ‘soft’ conservative male voters (she do hunting photo-ops at the start of dove season every September). But she couldn’t escape the Democrats’ 1991 attempt to create a state income tax, after promising during the 1990 election that would never, ever happen. It was a foreshadowing of Bill Clinton running in ’92 promising not to raise taxes and then going back on his word a month into his presidency, and both were part of the 1994 GOP wave election. Richards also acted contemptuous towards Bush during the ’94 debates, which didn’t help her cause any at a time there was voters’ remorse for tossing Bush’s dad out of the White House two years earlier.

     

    • #14
    • May 28, 2020, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    But all a 230 revision EO would do would be to take Twitter, Facebook and YouTube down to the levels of The New York Times, CNN or Vox, in that the social media sites would no longer get the common carrier exemption and would simply have the same First Amendment rights and risks as other publishers.

    This deserves further exploration.

    Yes, it turns them into publishers.

    Which means they are liable for every comment they let pass, from every user, on the platform. The possibilities for litigation are enormous. Ex-GF lies about your breakup – sue the publisher. Published threats are then presumed to come from the newly minted publisher.

    In other words, every comment or link will have to be “moderated” – to an extent unthought of by big tech. Each error is a new opportunity for an offended party to seek damages.

    Think of the Central Park Karen – yes, what she did was wrong, but she suffered real harm as a result of the outrage mob on Twitter. Twitter becomes a publisher, those damages become recoverable.

    The current threat seems to be that if Trump’s EO stands up in court, everyone would have to take their comment sections down or face the threat of libel suits. I’m not sure if a court would allow a middle ground, in terms of holding sites that edit liable for initial content, but not for the comments on the main content, since the assumption would be if an article is posted, it was posted at the approval of the editors, while comments are unsolicited replies. That would still create a major headache for Twitter, et al., but would avoid turning the Internet entirely into a one-way street, as TV pretty much always has been, and the system newspapers outside of their Letters to the Editor have been operating under.

    • #15
    • May 28, 2020, at 1:28 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    The current threat seems to be that if Trump’s EO stands up in court, everyone would have to take their comment sections down or face the threat of libel suits. I’m not sure if a court would allow a middle ground, in terms of holding sites that edit liable for initial content, but not for the comments on the main content, since the assumption would be if an article is posted, it was posted at the approval of the editors, while comments are unsolicited replies. That would still create a major headache for Twitter, et al., but would avoid turning the Internet entirely into a one-way street, as TV pretty much always has been, and the system newspapers outside of their Letters to the Editor have been operating under.

    While Twitter Replies and ReTweet with comments and ‘Likes’ could be considered “commenting” on a story, the vast majority of twitter content is straight content, like an article. Twitter becomes liable for all of that, including the threats.

    Twitter has been experimenting with a new plan to prevent the blue checks from getting ratioed for their voluminous hot takes, I don’t know how well that would hold up.

    Youtube would become responsible for the content of every Youtube channel – that is a lot of policing.

    • #16
    • May 28, 2020, at 2:24 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Locke On Member

    I didn’t write the following. It was posted by the CEO of Gab, an alt-tech social messaging platform, and seems relevant to this discussion. I deleted two paragraphs somewhat specific to Gab to make the word count:

    According to reports the White House has a drafted an executive order to address social media censorship by targeting Section 230 of the CDA. This is bad, very bad. It’s easy to get excited that action is finally being taken against the Silicon Valley oligarchs, but this isn’t the right solution. 

    Section 230 protects American companies from foreign authorities with far less liberal speech regimes than our own. Using executive power to water down Section 230 is a horrible idea and will inevitably harm alternative technology startups like Gab in the long run.

    Removing immunity from a publishing platform, like Gab or Twitter, would result in worse outcomes for free speech than simply doing nothing and letting the market sort things out. In fact, it would only likely lead to regulatory capture for Big Tech making them even more powerful. As a philosophical matter: in the United States the government has no business patrolling anyone’s biases and thoughts, whether they be individuals at a protest or individuals working together as a corporation.

    In a free country a corporation should be free to be biased. Apple censors music to comply with Chinese Communists. Twitter lets Pakistan tell it what users around the world, including Americans, can and can’t say.

    From our standpoint, the mobile app ecosystems are the biggest choke point, particularly with Apple which does not permit iPhone users to direct-download third party applications to their phones. Apple and Google have an unquestionable duopoly on mobile app distribution with 98% marketshare.

    We believe the big tech companies have sufficiently close connections between them that they can and do collude to remove competitors. Gab is the perfect example of this abuse of market power in action, being banned by both Apple and Google app stores for refusing to censor “offensive” speech. Of course anyone who has ever visited Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit knows that there is plenty of “offensive” speech on those websites, yet they are allowed to remain on both app stores.

    Apple should lose its stranglehold over what apps users can download on iPhones, Google should be broken up, and the individual corporate officers responsible for these anticompetitive practices should be individually punished.

    Google is a vast repository of private information and we believe that their App Store dominance is only one small part of their anticompetitive activity across the wider economy – which includes dominance over SEO, advertising and the flow of dollars to online publishers, as evidenced by a recent $1.7 billion antitrust fine levied against Google by European regulators.

    We believe that an antitrust investigation of these companies will reveal all manner of anticompetitive conduct in areas as diverse as search ranking, advertising, mobile app distribution, browser bundling, and even browser performance.

    ….

    • #17
    • May 28, 2020, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    The current threat seems to be that if Trump’s EO stands up in court, everyone would have to take their comment sections down or face the threat of libel suits. I’m not sure if a court would allow a middle ground, in terms of holding sites that edit liable for initial content, but not for the comments on the main content, since the assumption would be if an article is posted, it was posted at the approval of the editors, while comments are unsolicited replies. That would still create a major headache for Twitter, et al., but would avoid turning the Internet entirely into a one-way street, as TV pretty much always has been, and the system newspapers outside of their Letters to the Editor have been operating under.

    Twitter and Facebook (and Ricochet) are nothing but comment sections. The “original posts” are really just comments.

    Take away comment sections, and they all cease to exist.

    • #18
    • May 30, 2020, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. Headedwest Coolidge

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Twitter and Facebook (and Ricochet) are nothing but comment sections. The “original posts” are really just comments.

    Take away comment sections, and they all cease to exist.

    I was on Usenet back in the 80s. Compuserve, GEnie and then the fledgling and growing Internet. When the Internet was non-public everyone had to sign on with their corporate or university account, and the fact that you were identifiable made for a certain amount of self-discipline. Not perfect, but some restraint was evident. If somebody was out of line, you could complain to their sysop and that, in the early days, was all it took. 

    Then the Internet went public, and all of us who had been there all along were of one opinion: it’s ruined now. The evolution of the platform, as wonderfully useful as it is in so many ways, is to the lowest common denominator of anybody who can use a keyboard.

    Sometimes I forward a link to a friend and tell them not to read the comments. The most common response I get back is “I never read the comments”.

    With the exception of walled gardens like Ricochet, I’d be just fine with the disappearance of comment sections.

     

    • #19
    • May 30, 2020, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • Like