Fake News: A Checklist

A couple of years ago, way back when the phrase fake news was finding its footing in this country, the fact-checking website Politifact offered up the following definition of “fake news” as “made-up stuff, masterfully manipulated to look like credible journalistic reports that are easily spread online to large audiences willing to believe the fictions and spread the word.”

Two in three adults, or 63 percent, say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey. Twenty-three percent say they have shared a made-up news story, 14 percent of them knowingly.

The question of how we approach what unscrupulous and morally bankrupt journalists like Tony Ortega is an important one in this current era of ubiquitous propaganda-as-fact.

As such here are a few helpful tips for how to identify fake news. Let’s take a look at the bullet points and see just how many apply to Tony Ortega:

Does it make you mad? False reports often target emotions with claims of outlandish actions or hyperbolic, breathless condemnation. If common sense tells you it can’t be true, it may not be.

If it’s real, other news sites are likely reporting it. Is what’s being present not being reported anywhere else?

How is the writing? Is it caustic and filled with exaggeration and hate speech? Real journalists avoid attempts at manipulating their audiences?

Does the author abuse his critics with threats and intimidation? Does he abuse his sources and treat them with contempt and disrespect?

Are you seeing the same stories, scapegoating the same group or religious organization over and over again?

Where is the story hosted? A legitimate news outlet? A blog, posted from basement while the wife is off at work? Today, anyone can pretend to be publisher.

Is the author a narcissist, so enchanted by his own writing that he self-publishes a cut and past hatchet job of his own blog as a “big boy book”?

The results are in and it would appear this test is yet another failure for Tony “Fake News” Ortega.

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