The Difference between CNN and Fake News

News agency CNN retracted a story on Friday, and subsequently accepted the resignations of three employees associated with its publication. The POTUS jumped on the opportunity to point out the errant reporting as evidence that CNN publishes “fake news,” as he has been claiming since co-opting the term.

So, is this fake news? Does this lend legitimacy to the President’s claim?

Obviously this provided ready fodder for the POTUS and his surrogates, and they will beat this horse to death and resurrect it and beat it again ad infinitum. (However, there is no indication that they would have stopped crying “fake news” if this had not happened.) It was a blunder that will no doubt be exploited.

The story was untrue – or at least unsupported and not properly vetted – and was retracted because of this. Does that justify calling the story fake news? Not necessarily. It certainly was journalistic bias that prompted members of the CNN team to run with a story without following the agencies own vetting protocols. Is that what fake news means?

Not exactly.

The term “fake news” was coined to refer to deliberately false stories. A fake news story is akin to (or the same as) a conspiracy theory. Actual “fake news” is often fabricated, or deliberately misrepresented, often to support a political or ideological end. This kind of “fake news” is not a new phenomenon, but that advent of social media has enabled its wide promulgation, and many of these stories gain widespread acceptance now, in part due to the credibility of other news sources. (There is sometimes a naïve belief that one wouldn’t put out pure fiction as news because it would be easily debunked; many of these people subsequently dismiss the evidence debunking the fictional story. Oh, sweet irony…)

Some examples of actual “fake news” include:

– Obama is a Muslim

– Obama is Kenyan/not a natural-born US citizen

– Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK

– Climate change is a hoax

– “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead”

– “Hillary sold weapons to ISIS”

– “Pope backs Trump”

– Pizzagate

– “Another Person Investigating the Clintons Turns Up Dead”

– Five million illegal immigrants voted in the presidential election

– “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally.’”

– “tens of thousands” of ballots pre-marked for Hillary Clinton an Ohio warehouse

And so on…

While the type of journalistic bias displayed by some of the folks at CNN that allowed them to run an improperly vetted story is not appropriate or acceptable, it is a far cry from unapologetically making something up. And, CNN took appropriate action upon discovery of the breach in protocol and integrity. That is what a real news organization does.

So while this will undoubtedly be spun as proof of CNN’s fakeness, it is in fact evidence that they run a reputable news agency, and take care to correct the record when untrue information is published as true.

Good job, CNN.

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