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You might not agree with what you read in the media, but that doesn't make it 'fake news'

February 14, 2017

 

THEY’RE all at it.

Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn might not have much in common, but they are part of a growing number of people happy to jump aboard the ‘fake news’ bandwagon.

It’s the phrase of the year so far – 2017 is all about fake news, post-truth and alternative facts.

In other words, it’s all about lies; because that it what all of these trendy phrases really mean. Some years ago it was called being economical with the truth.

But we really need to think long and hard about what politicians, in particular, mean when they start dismissing media reports as ‘fake news’.

If they are saying the reports are a pack of lies, then fine. If they are saying the reports are made-up fantasies, then fine.

And, make no mistake, there is plenty of fake news about.

The internet is awash with it – some of it nothing more than pranks designed to hoodwink the gullible, but some of it far more sinister.

But when President Trump derides CNN, for instance, as ‘fake news’ then he is doing something dangerous.

What he is really doing is labelling any news outlet that reports in a way in which he disagrees as fake news. And that is wrong.

Reporting a different set of opinions to yours is not fake news.

Reporting on those opposed to your policies is not fake news.

It is simply what should happen, and what is healthy in a properly-functioning democracy.

The media is there to challenge authority and to hold it to account.

Sadly, there are fewer journalists than ever before across the media which means much of this vital work is not being done.

And the national media, particularly the national print media in this country, is increasingly sympathetic to just one side of the political divide.

When politicians and others in power refuse to speak to news outlets that do not share their views or report their policies as they would like, then we are in a difficult and dangerous place.

The worst abuses of power in history have been committed in countries with a subservient media.

So next time you hear Trump or Corbyn or anyone else dismiss a report in the papers or on the television as ‘fake news’ then stop for a moment to think about what they are really saying.

Because ‘fake news’ might be the phrase of the year, but it is bad news for all of us.

 

GOOD WEEK…

For England’s rugby union team but also for the sport as a whole.

Eddie Jones’ team might have extended their winning run to a record 16 matches against Wales on Saturday, but the real winner at the Principality Stadium was rugby.

The two nations produced an enthralling, entertaining game that kept everyone watching on the edge of their seats from first whistle to last.

More of the same is what is needed to reinvigorate the Six Nations.

 

BAD WEEK…

For Jeremy Corbyn.

Europe may have been the issue that has threatened to rip apart the Conservative Party for decades.

Yet it is Labour that has suffered the most since the referendum as Mr Corbyn has faced rebellions from his MPs ordered to vote in favour of something the vast majority of them oppose.

It looks as though Mr Corbyn’s leadership will be questioned and challenged both inside and outside the party from now until the 2020 general election.

 

This blog is published in the South Wales Argus every Tuesday.

 

 

 

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