Fake news is poisoning public trust in American democracy

Freedom of the press is at the very foundation of America’s democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, “Where the press is free…all is safe.” However, Abraham Lincoln added this qualification in 1865, “Let them know the truth, and the country is safe.” Indeed, the safety of our country depends on a responsible press—one that checks its sources and strives to report the truth.

The press in this country has not always been perfect in my estimation, but during my lifetime it has been generally responsible in ferreting out the facts and reporting the truth. That has changed in recent years with the advent of around-the-clock cable news and talk radio, particularly with the arrival on the scene of an Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdock. The Australian’s news outlets, especially Fox News, have poisoned the air with increasingly strident, untruthful reportage.

It is extremely sad to see a so-called news organization spewing out falsehoods on practically a daily basis, with the apparent purpose of creating outrage amongst its loyal audience, thus driving its ratings and revenues. What else could explain such wretched reporting as the claim on April 23 by Fox News host John Roberts that President Biden had plans to cut Americans’ red meat consumption.

Robert’s false report stirred immediate outrage among Murdock’s media group, taking the entire country by storm, until Roberts meekly admitted 3 days later that Biden had no such plan. In the meantime, many politicians wedded to Fox News blew gaskets, threw unwarranted accusations at Biden and generally gnashed their teeth, including Idaho Governor Brad Little.

The fulminating over the fake beef news was just starting when Murdock’s New York Post reported that Vice President Harris was slipping copies of her book, Superheroes Are Everywhere, into welcome bags being distributed to migrant kids coming across the border. This was, of course, another fake Murdock story, which the Post admitted in a tiny statement in the paper on April 27. Turns out the reporter resigned, claiming she had been ordered to write the falsehoods. Nevertheless, the story caused great outrage across the nation between the false report and the admission of fakery.

While these penny-ante lies are mind boggling, they are part of the continuing stream of false invective being dished out by the Murdock media empire. You wonder why Fox should persist with these fake reports of minutia. It could only be for the purpose of keeping the outrage caldron stirred between major fake news issues that strike at the core of our democracy.

The biggest bundle of fake news being peddled on a continuous basis by Murdock’s empire is that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Despite all competent evidence to the contrary, Fox News and its counterparts persist in this vicious lie that has caused untold damage to American institutions, causing distrust in our elections, the courts, and the fact-checking media. Even Idaho’s Governor and much of the State’s Republican Party were taken in by this big pernicious lie.

Another of the major fake news stories being pushed by Fox, together with its message amplifiers across the country, including the inaptly-named Idaho Freedom Foundation in Idaho, is that our educators are trying to indoctrinate kids from kindergarten through college. Despite a lack of evidence to support their case in Idaho, our Legislature has been caught up in a meritless effort to besmirch and discredit our dedicated teachers and the local school boards who chart their course. Murdock’s fake news outlets are poisoning trust in our democratic institutions and their untruths endanger the safety of our country.

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4 thoughts on “Fake news is poisoning public trust in American democracy”

  1. My Grandfather had a saying that applies to the Murdoch empire’s strategy of accusing other media of being “fake news”. When someone would point out a bad odor emanating from some individual to avoid suspicion being cast toward them he would say, “The fox smells its own hole first.” In this case fox news is aptly named.

  2. We have to expect & DEMAND more from our elected representatives! We have to ask more questions & demand more than their standard slogan of “protecting Idaho’s conservative values, protecting our 2nd amendment rights…” I, for one do not need any politician protecting ME from anything. I can handle myself just fine & with this current bunch of nut jobs, I have to protect myself from THEM!

  3. You lose credibility (not that it matters to you) when you single out Fox news for this fake news hit piece. Mainstream media including CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, etc, all have numerous examples of blatant falsehoods much more egregious than what you cite here. Have you ever looked into the numerous ethical issues regarding CNN’s Chris Cuomo? I would think staged COVID pieces, involvement with defending his brother’s sexual harassment claims, and even lifting fake weights would cause a sober person such as yourself to perhaps list it here regarding ‘fake news.’ Surely you do serious reading and research and you know how dismally mainstream media outlets are performing due to their ‘trust factor.’ This is not an issue that solely and squarely pertains to Fox News.

    How about the biggest news retraction of the year Jim? Was it Fox News? Of course not it was the NYT, Washington Post et al that reported the false story about Rudy Giuliani supposedly having been warned by the FBI about Russia collusion. Rember that Jim? Your bias is terribly apparent. I love harpooning you in the Post Register along with other people that like to point out your hypocricies.

    1. Lynn: You must have a rusty harpoon. It never hits the target. As usual, you did not point out a single thing in my column that was incorrect. Rather, you blathered about things that are completely extraneous to what I said. My primary sources of news are the New York Times and Washington Post. They are rarely off the mark. The reporting is well sourced and reliable. I’m certainly not obligated to defend Chris Cuomo because his manner rubs me the wrong way. But, he is head and shoulders above Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, both of whom have blood on their hands for all of their false and misleading palaver about Covid 19, including precautionary measures, fake cures, vaccinations. Shame on them.

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