The real threat of real fake news

Fake News

By Ann McFeatters

Talk about fake news! The current scandal at Amazon, first reported by NBC News, is that a totally scurrilous book that makes such preposterous claims as Democrats eat babies has been pushed to the bestseller list.

QAnon is a strange pro-Trump conspiracy that sprouted among fringe right-wing elements on the Internet and seemingly has gone viral, infecting increasing numbers of Donald Trump’s supporters.

A book that exalts the conspiracy, “QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening” and its slogan “Where We Go One We Go All,” was Amazon’s bestselling book under the “censorship and politics” category, pushed there by Amazon’s logarithms. Such classics as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Lord of the Flies” were being outsold by “QAnon.” Amazon is also pushing products that relate to it although now there is a box to “report incorrect product information.”

At the same time, another “fake news” story that refuses to go away is the false contention that vaccines cause autism. One horrific result, prevalent in southwestern Washington state, is that there are outbreaks of virulent diseases such as measles, once thought to have all but wiped out. At a congressional hearing, Sen. Patty Murray, said the measles outbreak is highly worrisome and that a national campaign to tout the safety of vaccines is desperately needed.

Another “fake news” story, being spread by the White House, even after the failed summit with North Korea, is that North Korea is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons or rebuilding dismantled missiles launch sites that could propel a nuclear weapon toward cities as far away as Chicago. Despite 100 per cent agreement by the US intelligence agencies that North Korea is not giving up nuclear weapons, Trump insists North Korea is not testing nuclear weapons. He said, “Some people are saying photos show new missile launching sites and some people aren’t.” He said he trusts dictator Kim Jong Un.

Yet another “fake news” line being pushed by the Trump administration is that children taken from their parents seeking legal asylum in the US are not being held in cages or sexually abused or mistreated in any way. Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of homeland security, falsely said under oath there are no cages and no parents are being deported without multiple opportunities to take their children with them. Her department made no effort for months to locate children for those deported parents or have decent records. At least three children have died under US supervision.

And we have the non-witch hunts. It is not a witch hunt when more than 30 people have been indicted or convicted of criminal behaviour by federal grand juries and judges. It is not a witch hunt when strong evidences of tax fraud, insurance fraud and illegal payments designed to thwart national elections are under investigation.

Trump says that manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States. Fake news. General Motors just shuttered a 6-million-square-foot plant that made the Cruze auto in Lordstown, Ohio, with 1,700 jobs lost and a devastating impact on small businesses and homeowners there.

People want to believe that things are getting better, that their president is not just a blowhard who has lied 9,000 times and is only interested in himself.  But there’s danger in believing fake news.

We are becoming a nation that not only is rejecting its traditions and institutions but is credulous about things that make no sense. Shame on those who tout fake news and push ridiculous conspiracy theories to make money and scare people. Also, Democrats do not eat babies.

Tribune News Service