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Let’s Talk About Fake News

15 Nov, 2016

From George Orwell’s 1984:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

Over the past few days there’s been a lot of talk about about fake news appearing on Facebook and Google. Today the New York Times leads with “Facebook is in Denial,” after Mark Zuckerberg said that 99% of news on Facebook was legit. In appeasement, Facebook and Google now say that they will not allow “fake news” sites to use their advertising platforms.

This fake-news meme is utterly bogus. I read thousands of news article during the election cycle and saw only a handful of fake articles. Even way down in the depths of Trump Facebook groups fake news is easily identified as such, and the readers don’t care. So who does care?

The mainstream media cares. It is trying to shift the blame onto new media, instead of investigating its own role in creating fake news.

The Kovaleski Test

If you have read any of my previous posts you’ll know that Newslines grew out of a collaborative fact check site, and that as part of that, I wrote a “fact check watch” column, which detailed the way so-called fact-checking sites distorted the truth to push their narrative.

I was amazed that so-called journalists would call themselves fact checkers as cover for them to distort the truth. This election was no different. So let me pose a test to see if you are with truth, or with the narrative? Warning to liberals: this may cause your head to explode. Answer this question:

Did Trump mock a reporter’s disability?

If you answered yes, you were the victim of fake news. A lie that was manufactured by the Times to suit its narrative: Clinton = good, Trump = a monster.

In 2015, Trump was under fire from the media for saying that he had seen Muslims celebrating 9/11 in New Jersey. The media brought out its big guns, sending The Washington Post’s lead fact checker, Glenn Kessler, to debunk Trump’s claim. The only problem: Kessler’s own paper had reported that Muslims had, in fact, been celebrating.

[Authorities in Jersey City] detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.

Now we can argue about the number of people (Trump said “thousands”), but the protests were reported on.

The story then shifted onto Serge Kovaleski, the journalist who had written the Washington Post’s report in 2001. Kovaleski said he couldn’t remember writing the report, and that was what caused Trump to mock him at a rally in South Carolina in November 2015.

Written by a nice reporter. Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy…Uhh I don’t know what I said. Uhh I don’t remember. He’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’

Trump mocks reporter with disability

The New York Times responded by shifting the discussion from Kovaleski’s reporting, to his disability.

We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters.

The Times and other anti-Trump media then deliberately freeze-framed the image of Trump to mimic Kovaleski’s withered arm. And the story blew up that Trump was mocking a disabled reporter. Preconceptions were confirmed. Trump was indeed a monster!

The Truth Shall Set you Free

Except that there’s an important distinction: Trump was mocking a disabled reporter, but was not mocking his disability. 

The evidence is clear and unambiguous. Firstly, Trump had previously used the exact same hand movements to describe non-disabled people in the past. It’s his go-to action for describing someone who is flustered.

PROOF Trump did not mock reporter for disability

Secondly, Kovaleski does not behave like Trump’s mockery at all. He has no outward shaking or hand waving at all.

Media Hoax: Reporter NOT Spastic

The Times not only falsely painted Trump as someone who mocks the disabled, they used a reporter’s disability as a prop to attack Trump, AND they took advantage of a stereotype of disabled people to mislead their own readers.

Then when anyone challenged the narrative they sent in the fact checkers. Politifact rated the statement “Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is ‘wrong’ to say he mocked a disabled reporter” as “false,” yet in their conclusion they say:

In other words, the most you could say about these bits of evidence is that they demonstrate that Trump is an equal-opportunity mocker. They don’t help refute Clinton’s charge that Trump mocked Kovaleski.

They admit that Trump did not mock the reporter based on his disability, yet they still rated Trump’s claim false.

Slaves to the Narrative

The reason I choose this test is that it shows the power of the narrative over the power of truth. You can either accept the evidence that the Times and other media lied and manipulated the reader, or continue to follow the narrative.

If, after seeing the evidence, you still continue to believe that Trump mocked Kovaleski’s disability, then you should class yourself as a victim. The Times manipulated you into believing something that was not true. That it was repeated by thousands of news outlets, and fact checked, still does not change that it was not true.

And that should make you angry. They gave you a false view of a candidate, making them appear worse than they actually were (a monster!), while distracting from the other candidate. The question you should ask yourself is: how many other manipulations are you the victim of?

You Say You Want a Revolution

It’s important to note that these reporters and the fact checkers didn’t mislead people on the other side — they deliberately manipulated and misled their own readers. Yet to this day they have not admitted their lie, nor have they made any retraction or apology.

The sad part is that people like Kessler and those at the NYT face little sanction for their lies. They will continue to be paid to bend the truth by their publishers. They are disgraceful people, who have stained their profession.

Orwell also said that: In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The good news is that the people are wise to these liars. Trust for fact checkers is gone. The revolutionary act of telling the truth was carried out by the people — the readers, the viewers and the listeners — who rejected the mainstream media’s lies, and used Facebook and Twitter to find truth in whatever form they could.

So it’s no surprise that the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media are now trying to blame the new media for their own sins. Instead of Facebook going after “fake news” sites that nobody believes or cares about, it should be going after mainstream news organisations like the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the other mainstream media sites that suppressed bad news about Hillary Clinton, while pushing fake and manipulated news about Donald Trump. That would be the revolutionary act.


Mark Devlin is the founder and CEO of Newslines. Find out more about him here. Click here to follow Mark on Twitter.


Newslines is a new kind of new search engine that is a solution to media bias. Our aim is to summarise all of the world’s news, from the past to the preset, strip it of bias and commentary, leaving just the facts, and organise it into news timelines. Our newsline of Emma Sulkowicz is a good example of a non-biased newsline, created from highly-partisan sources.

We currently have 2.5 million page views/month and aim to get to one billion page views/month within three years. If you are interested in helping us grow please contact Mark at info@newslines.org. You can read more about Newslines here.

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