Fake News In The Mainstream Media

REUTERS/Osman Orsal

John Lott President, Crime Prevention Research Center
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Democrats and their media allies are trying everything they can to delegitimize Trump’s election. It started with a series of hopeless recounts, and now they claim that Russia hacked Democrat emails.

Talk radio, Fox News, and the Internet have broken the mainstream media’s old monopoly on the news. Now, other outlets that can’t be controlled get labeled asfake” news. The mainstream media is now hoping that Facebook will use filters so that people will only seereputable” publications at the top of their trending list of news stories.

The establishment media has openly called for this censorship. After the election, the “Big Three” American fact checkers — PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post — generously offered to show Facebook how your editors could spot and debunk fake claims.” Others are suggesting that Facebook follow Google’s lead by giving more weight to reputable” news sites selected byhuman reviewers.”

Facebook has already tried using humans to filter news stories. But they faced a scandal when it was discovered that their checkers filtered out stories on conservative topics from conservative sites.”

Google news searches have been found to favor Democrats and left-leaning sites such as Media Mattersover sources such as Fox News and the Daily Caller.

The liberal mainstream media might really believe itself to be the guardian of truth, but they may in fact be the principal purveyors of fake” news. Just take some stories from the last week or so.

— A Washington Post headline asked: Why does Trump keep saying that the murder rate is the highest in 45 years?” But Trump’s statement was: “On crime, the murder rate has experienced its largest increase in 45 years” (emphasis added). But the Post’s Philip Bump claims that this increase is “only the largest since 1990.” However, Bump apparently made some simple math errors. He has not responded to emails or fixed his article.

— Another Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham had another headline from 2015: Heroin deaths surpass gun homicides for the first time, CDC data shows.” But homicides are not the same as murders, since they include justifiable” homicides by police and civilians. In fact, heroin overdoses already exceeded firearm murders by 2,262 deaths in 2014, and by 3,373 in 2015. I have pointed out this problem to Ingraham, but he still consistently uses firearm homicides in his articles. He simply wants to make the harm from guns look greater.

— The New York Times used claims by the Violence Policy Center that over nine-and-a-half years there was 898 non-self-defense gun deaths nationwide by concealed handgun permit holders. But these numbers are a complete mess.  Take Michigan, which is identified as the worst state for permit holders with supposedly 72 homicides.  Many non-cases are tripled or quadrupled counted.  “Pending” and conviction” numbers from the Michigan State Police reports are both counted, though cases might be listed as pending for years before they go to court and most never result in a conviction.  News stories of these same events are also counted as separate cases. If you look at convictions alone, you are talking about cases that amount to just over 1 case a year in a state that had over 556,000 permit holders by this last July.

Unfortunately, much of the media take their lead from the New York Times. And a front page article in August said that it is OK for journalists who believe “Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies” can let their news articles reflect their political opinions.

Indeed, time-after-time during the election the mainstream media ran biased news stories falsely proclaiming that Trump was advocating assassinating Hillary Clinton to claiming that Trump’s policies were racist to protecting Clinton on gun control issues.

Given all this “fake” news, what is really amazing is that Trump still won the election.

But if the mainstream media really is bothered by all this fake news, there is a simple solution. When “fake” news stories are trending on Facebook, instead of banning them, write an article explaining why that story is wrong.

John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of The War on Guns.