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Here's what non-fake news looks like

23 Feb 2017

Journalists literally 'make' news. They do not find it. They do not publish transcripts of reality. Even in their best efforts, they would not provide a copy of reality, but reality in a frame, reality enhanced, reality reconfigured by being heightened on a page or a screen, reality retouched by the magic of publication itself.

Whether it is Macedonian teenagers wanting to make a buck or far-right conspiracy-minded partisans trying to roil the waters, “fake news” is even more a part of today’s vocabulary than “truthiness” was a decade ago. The big difference is that the current President of the United States likes to grab headlines with reckless assertions that he then peddles to the public without evidence.

Presidents have a bully pulpit. When they place troops on a battlefield, even many people who saw no point in war rally round the flag; when they have potentially cancerous polyps removed from their colons (Ronald Reagan), thousands of people pick up the phone and make colonoscopy appointments. If a President can inadvertently push people to undergo colonoscopies, what else might a President do by example or by words? When a President declares the news media the “enemy of the American people,” what might otherwise reasonable citizens be inclined to think?

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