Election Year Sanity 2: “Fake News?”

“I hate and abhor falsehood…” Psalm 119:163 ESV‬

“There’s no such thing as fake news.It is either news, or fiction…”Fake” and “news” should be mutually exclusive. If it is fake. It cannot be called news. ¹” Veteran journalist Dave Foulk

There was a time when iconic news anchor Walter Cronkite was known as “the most trusted man in America.” Now, journalists are among the least trusted professions. What happened?

Even if you do not remember anything else from your high school economics class, you probably recall the saying “supply equals demand.” Fake news exists because there is always demand for it.

Regardless of what you may think of his politics, Rush Limbaugh rose to power because he had his finger on an important pulse. He noticed genuine cases of liberal media bias in the news. Unfortunately, he countered with commentary that was equally biased in the other direction which set a very unhealthy trend. Now, regardless of your persuasion, you can find “news” to substantiate whatever you want to believe and corporate sponsors are happy to oblige. If you watch either Fox News or MSNBC, for example, their key demographics will quickly become evident. Even more disturbing is how this mentality is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

Certainly we should not want liberal news. Neither should we want conservative news. We should simply want news for the sake of news. That is not to say that news outlets cannot feature diverse viewpoints. Of course they should, as long as they are clearly designated as opinion rather than objective news. There must be a clear line of demarcation between the headlines and the op-ed page. While the following graphic is not perfect, it does give a helpful overview:

While it is unrealistic to expect any news source to be completely bias free, some do a better job than others. For example, Associated Press and Reuters are widely considered to be among the least biased sources. Fact checking sites such as Snopes, Truth Or Fiction, Politifact and Media Bias/Fact Check can be helpful but are not immune to bias either. Another helpful resource is an aggregate called Ground News, which lists bias rankings for the stories they cover. Similarly, the Flip Side newsletter examines a different issue each day with insights from writers on both the left and the right.

Identifying fake news is not always easy, especially in the digital age we live in. Nonetheless, here are a few things that I encourage you to consider:

  • News is not necessarily “fake” because it is not what you want to hear.
  • News is not necessarily “fake” because it might make your preferred party or candidate look bad.
  • News is not necessarily “fake” because it challenges or asks hard questions of a politician you like.
  • Don’t complain about “bias” if your response is equally biased in the other direction.
  • Be skeptical of anyone whose “facts” always support a particular politician or party line.
  • Have you ever considered that you may be adding to the problem by not properly researching or fact checking your own statements?

Promoting anything “fake” goes against everything we stand for as followers of Christ. Friends, we must do better.

Keep It Real,

1. Foulk quote taken from this Facebook post







#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames

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