Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) portrait was unveiled yesterday on Capitol Hill, with former 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and now two-time presidential loser, delivering some remarks at the ceremony. Clinton said that we must be on guard for malicious fake news.
“It’s now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences. This isn’t about politics or partisanship—lives are at risk,” she said. “It’s a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly she added.
Hillary Clinton: "Let me just mention one threat in particular that should concern all Americans... the epidemic of malicious fake news" pic.twitter.com/f4ESmm4QZf— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 8, 2016
Okay—first, it’s not so-called fake news; it’s just fake news. Have they had real world consequences? Yes. That insane story about Comet Ping Pong in D.C., which was believed to be a hub for a child sex-slave ring run by Clinton confidante John Podesta, the epitome of a fake news story, led one man to enter the establishment with a rifle. The situation ended with no one getting seriously hurt or killed. This is an isolated incident, though it hasn’t stopped some on the Left from postulating that President-elect Donald Trump is going to get someone killed (that’s literally the headline for this op-ed), despite Trump never being at the forefront for peddling this insane and false story:
Donald Trump presents real dangers of the abuse of official power, given his contempt for democratic norms, his vindictiveness, and his evident taste for violent retribution. But we should also be very concerned about his eager encouragement of hatred and violence that bubbles up from below. With a president who will be regularly propagating crazed conspiracy theories and singling out individual citizens as targets of his displeasure, it’s only a matter of time before another of his well-armed supporters decides to take matters into their own hands, and this time finishes the job.
Of course, this is a stretch. The president of the United States is not responsible for the loony antics of an unhinged American. There are over 315 million of us living here; we’re bound to have a few people with more than a few screws loose. Moreover, the fake news epidemic is overblown. Facebook, which has been the main platform from which these nutjob stories are posted, admitted that these stories didn’t sway the 2016 election, an insinuation that was tossed into the hyper emotional post-2016 mix (via RealClearPolitics):
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, TODAY SHOW: After the election, Facebook itself found itself in the news, because there was a criticism that Facebook played a role in disseminating some of this false information. Or "fake news" that was out there. In retrospect, looking back on it, do you feel like that is a thing that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have come to realize is more of a problem that Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg originally thought?
SHERYL SANDBERG, FACEBOOK: We've been working on this for a long time and we have taken important steps, but there is a lot more we can do. We know that people don't want to see hoaxes on Facebook and we don't want to see hoaxes on Facebook.
And so we're working on it because misinformation is something we take seriously. And something we're going to continue to iterate on the service.
GUTHRIE: Did it play a bigger role that you thought it would, in retrospect?
SANDBERG: Well, there have been claims that it swayed the election, and we don't think it swayed the election, but we take those claims seriously. We take this responsibility really seriously, and we're looking at things like working with third parties, helping to label false news, doing the things we can do to make it clearer what is a hoax on Facebook...
Also, even mainstream outlets have been caught peddling crap on the airwaves. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle reported that Fox News had their Christmas Party at Trump’s D.C. hotel. They haven’t. Mediaite noted that the network hasn’t even had their party yet. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald said that Trump supporters in Iowa booed the late John Glenn, who passed away yesterday at age 95. That was also false. Even disgraced NBC anchor Brian Williams reiterated the claim that fake news played a role in the 2016 election and seemed to be concerned about its reach, which is the seat of irony since Williams was caught spreading fake stories which led to him being suspended for six months without pay. The Washington Free Beacon clipped CNN’s greatest flops this election season. Are they peddling fake news?
Don’t get me wrong; everyone, even President-elect Trump, should be minding what he or she puts out there on social media. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, has tweeted very controversial articles and statements; no one has been killed.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a fire in a crowded room situation. This isn’t inciting a riot. This is more about weeding out nonsensical drivel. It’s also another instance in which the Left needs to take responsibility and admit that it wasn’t fake news, or hacking, that cost Clinton the election. It was because she was one of the most flawed candidates to run for the presidency. Her endless stream of mistakes, like ignoring white working class voters, calling Trump voters deplorable, and not grasping the seriousness of her unauthorized and unsecure email server—with the added bonus of her not being Obama—all contributed to the Democratic base not being excited about her candidacy that led to her defeat. Should we be on the lookout for fake news and neutralize it? Yes. It is really that big of a deal? It’s really more of an annoyance at this point. It’s not the zombie plague.