Facts, Fakes and Fox

By | February 21, 2017

English is funny. Spelled different, pronounced the same, spelled the same, pronounced different. It’s like English doesn’t want to be “understood”. It’s like the language itself it trying to obfuscate the truth. Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Language is behind this whole issue.

Whether you are in the world of product development or politics, the facts are a tricky thing. I remember someone in a meeting once said loudly, “People don’t like it, that’s a fact!” As if speaking loudly and forcefully made them more correct.

Example: Stephen Miller raising his voice to try to mask that he is wrong.

I believe Stephen Miller (and the person referenced earlier) are actually incorrect in their assessment of the facts. But how does one prove facts when there are so many fakes? You can just say something and pretend it’s a fact when in fact, it’s a fake!

Donald Trump said recently that he won the electoral college by the largest margin since Reagan. When confronted with the actual numbers, he said, “I meant Republicans.” In fact, there are 5 elections since Reagan that had a larger majority of the electoral college. Finally, Trump said, “I was given that information.” As if being given false information absolves you from the responsibility of what you say. Trump is very prone to hearing a fake news story (often on Fox News) and then assuming it’s true. He says Fact when he means Fake. When he says “You are Fake News” to CNN, he really means, “You are Fact News”. Not to be confused with Fox News, which is mostly Fakes.

According to AdWeek, Fox News has the highest ratings of any cable news channel. I also believe that their truthfulness is lower than the other networks. Is there a correlation between fake news and popularity? When you are not bound by the truth, you can literally say anything you want. That’s liberating and people will believe you if you say it in a loud voice.

The problem, as I see it, is that the Press is not understanding the game and they are asking questions the wrong way. First, they need to establish common ground in the question and then treat the interviewee as a “hostile witness” asking purely fact questions. Here is a guide:

Reporter: “It is crucial to me to always be honest and state facts, not opinions. So I want to make sure that my sources are accurate. Are the FBI crime statistics accurate and truthful?”

OK, at this point, Trump needs to decide if he wants to make an enemy of the FBI. Either way he answers this question is fine. If he says no, then you ask who is the most reputable source of nationwide crime stats? Who has the facts? If he says Yes, then you get the following:

Reporter: The FBI stats that you agree are factual and accurate show violent crime decreasing steadily since 1990. Look at this chart I have. Do you agree that these stats from the FBI show violent crime is at an all time low?

Journalists need to treat the witness as hostile. Learn from lawyers on TV.

The one thing I don’t want is a world where the loudest voice wins. Fakes and Fox will always have the loudest voices. I want a world of quiet voices that seek truth and facts.

Food for thought.

One thought on “Facts, Fakes and Fox

  1. Daniel Lipka

    From Forbes.com “A majority of Americans, 52%, said they trust the news media over Donald Trump to tell the truth about important issues. Only 37% said they trusted Trump more.” But the headline before that reads “Despite President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the “fake news” media, a new poll from Quinnipiac University finds that more Americans trust the media than Donald Trump.” The news isn’t that 52% trust the media, the news is that an amazing 37% trust Trump more. 1 out of every 3 people polled has such a “unique” view of reality that they believe Trump more. For 37% of the country, Trump-speak is fact. That is a tremendous advantage that he has to solely control ideas, facts, policies, and people. This is despite that fact that what Trump says is often directly opposed the actual facts (facts=things that are proven with data or historical accounts). For as much as the news is reporting his shortcomings, Trump supporters (half the country) thinks he is doing a good job. Why? Two reasons, 1) they actually agree with his policies and 2) because Trump says he is going great and they believe him. The actual danger of all this is not the Trump lies, it is that people support the lies and the policies the lies lead to. There are real Americans whose ideology is fundamentally different than what we pretend this country represents. And this isn’t new to the world, this has happened in dozens of times, in dozens of countries, over the years. We need to begin the conversation without the assumption that “people are generally good” and move on from there.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettedkins/2017/02/23/poll-finds-that-more-americans-trust-the-media-than-donald-trump/#f2eff51105de

    Reply

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