Defining Fake News

Charles Hugh Smith at has posted a pointed counter-argument to the “fake news” issue:

I was amused to find my site listed on the now-infamous list of purportedly Russian-controlled propaganda sites cited by The Washington Post. I find it amusing because I invite anyone to search my 3,600-page archive of published material over the past decade (which includes some guest posts and poems) and identify a single pro-Russia or pro-Russian foreign policy entry.

If anything, my perspective is pro-US dollar, pro-liberty, pro-open markets, pro-local control, pro-free-press, pro-innovation, and pro-opportunities to rebuild America’s abandoned, decaying localized economies: in other words, the exact opposite of Russian propaganda.

My “crime” is a simple one: challenging the ruling elite’s narrative. Labeling all dissent “enemy propaganda” is of course the classic first phase of state-sponsored propaganda and the favorite tool of well-paid illiberal apologists for an illiberal regime.

Labeling everyone who dissents or questions the ruling elite’s narrative as tools of an enemy power is classic McCarthy-era witch-hunting, i.e. a broad-brush way of marginalizing and silencing critics with an accusation that is easy to fabricate but difficult to prove.

Such unsupported slander is a classic propaganda technique. It has more in common with Nazi propaganda than with real journalism.

Try to dig through the hyperbolic language to the meaning behind it.  He’s right.  He doesn’t support the same goals or policies as many, or most, elected officials, and he uses the kind of wording you see above to make his points.  This absolutely does not make him a tool of Russian propaganda, even inadvertently.  Not agreeing with the mainstream cannot be the definition of being a Russian information shill.

IMHO, the biggest issue here is that many, many news sources, including mainstream media, alt-right, and others, present opinion pieces as news.  It is left for the reader to distinguish between reporting of fact and opining.  Additionally, what could legitimately be labeled fake news does exist;  that is, the presentation of “facts” that are not true at all, but are at best misrepresentations of facts and at worst outright lies.  This is the price we pay for a free press.  We must all be cognizant that regardless of the source, we must fact check information for ourselves, as well as determine what is fact and what is opinion.


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