Monday, November 6, 2017

Dave Lindorff — The attack on “fake news” is really an attack on alternative media

Last December Congress passed a new law, promptly signed by then-President Barack Obama, that enacted an Orwellian amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2017. Called the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, this measure tasks the State Department, in consultation with the Department of Defense, the director of national intelligence and an obscure government propaganda organization called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to establish a “Center for Information Analysis and Response.” The job of this new center, funded by a $160 million, two-year budget allocation, would be to collect information on “foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts" and "proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests."
This might all seem laughable, but as a journalist who has worked in this field for 45 years, in both mainstream newspapers and television and in the alternative media, and as a long-time freelancer who has written for publications as widely varied as Business Week, the Nation, the Village Voice and a collectively run news site called, I have watched as this obsession with “fake news” has turned into an attack on alternative news and alternative news organizations.…
There is certainly fake news all over the internet, and baseless conspiracies run rampant on both the left and the right. But all too often, articles like mine cited by PropOrNot (a genuine purveyor of fake news!) are being labeled as propaganda in what Naureckas says is simply “the use of irony as a defense mechanism” by news organizations that themselves are actually guilty of publishing really fake news, as the Post did with its PropOrNot blacklist “scoop.”
"What the government and the corporate media are trying to do, with the help of the big internet corporations,” argues Mickey Huff, director of the Project Censored organization in California, “is basically to shut down alternative news sites that question the media consensus position on issues.”….
The real answer, of course, is for readers and viewers of all media, mainstream or alternative, to become critical consumers of news. This means not just looking at articles critically, including this one, but going to multiple sources for information on important issues. Relying on just the Times or the Post, or on Fox News or NPR, will leave you informationally malnourished -- not just uninformed but misinformed. Even if you were to read both those papers and watch both those networks, you'd often be left with an incomplete version of the truth. 
To get to the truth, we need to also check out alternative news sources, whether of the left, right or center -- and we need to maintain the critical distinction between unpopular or unorthodox points of view and blatant lies or propaganda. Without such a distinction, and the freedom to make such decisions for ourselves, maintaining democracy will be impossible.  
The attack on “fake news” is really an attack on alternative media
Dave Lindorff, investigative journalist, columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011, and 2012.

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