May 26, 2019

‘Fake News’ and its Dangers

The past few months have seen the media focus on ““>Blood libel” accusations against Jews go back centuries and analogously involve baseless charges of violating and murdering young children. The medieval charges surfaced in recent times in Russia at the turn of the last century, in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913, and in Orleans, France in 1969.

The accusations played on angry, receptive, unreasoning and believing publics.

It is troubling that in 2016 we have individuals being considered for positions near the pinnacle of power in the White House who traffic in the kind of “fake news” that bears an uncanny resemblance to historic conspiracy charges involving kids.

Donald Trump’s designated National Security Advisor (“NSA”), Gen. Michael Flynn has a son, Michael Flynn, Jr. who has served as the general’s chief of staff in his security business. Junior was a member of the Trump transition team until just a few days ago.

Flynn Jr. has engaged in vile “> were accused of violating and spiriting away young children who entered their seemingly innocuous stores.

The predictable response to the Comet Ping Pong allegations was elicited on Sunday when a “>persisting in them after the shooting (the allegations he wrote “hadn’t yet been proved false” and the apprehended shooter was really “an actor”). Mercifully, the Trump team has let Flynn junior go. He is off the transition team and will, presumably, not be on the government payroll.

But his father, our future National Security Advisor, appears to have a similar penchant for made up stories—including Clinton and sex-trafficking. According to “>observed, Flynn senior “has regularly engaged in the reckless public promotion of conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact…and is oblivious to the facts, or intentionally ignorant of them.”

This is not about “fake news” and salacious stories, it is about reasoning and intellects that accept fantasy as fact and suspend intellectual rigor.

What is so troubling about believers in and trumpeters of “fake news” is their obvious abandonment of reason, discernment and good sense. The absence of intellectual honesty in failing to demand evidence and factual corroboration before repeating illogical conspiracy myths suggests a susceptibility to other forms of sloppy thinking and the willing vilifying of opponents. An ominous proclivity for those concerned about bigotry, civility and a functioning government.

Will someone with those traits be running our foreign policy and advising our new president? If the former Secretary of State, First Lady and senator from New York could be so fallaciously castigated, what groups or individuals are safe from “fake news” and its unfounded calumnies? We all have reason to be concerned.

PS Steven Colbert has an hilarious take on “fake news,” Pizzagate and the thinking behind it on