The Craft of Disinformation

Lies, falsehoods and fake news. A challenge for our age

FAKE NEWS. MOST of us have our own ­definition of what it is but there’s another, more historic term for much the same phenomenon: The “big lie.”

My dictionary calls the latter (and I’d call the former), “A deliberate gross distortion of the truth, used especially as a propaganda tactic.”

It is sad but true that many people base their social and political beliefs more on emotion than fact. They are the targets and often victims of the promoters of false propaganda. Its continuing use by government and the media to forward a ­particular agenda or cover up misdeeds stymies the hope for a more well-informed society capable of honestly discussing the vital issues of the day.

Two recent, prominent examples of fake news/big lie at work concern Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau. In the former case, left-wing journalists and self-serving Democratic politicians did their best to convince Americans that Trump had colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election.

This was the only explanation they could offer to account for the fact their preferred Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, had inexplicably lost the election to Trump and his “basket of deplorables.”

They went so far as to force the appointment of a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, with an eventual budget of more than 35 million dollars and dozens of associates and researchers, many of whom openly supported Hillary Clinton.

Unless false narratives are continually challenged in the bright light of day, they will continue to hamstring public dialogue, to the ultimate disservice of us all

Ironically, it turned out it was her own campaign operatives who had faked a dossier purporting that Russia had aided and abetted Trump’s election efforts.

In spite of a concerted effort to promote this fabrication by almost the entire American left wing, after two years of intensive investigation this Democrat task force was eventually forced by lack of evidence to conclude there was no proof of any such collusion. Though Mueller did verify that the Russians had made several overtures to the Trump camp he was direct and specific in noting they were “all rejected” without exception. Yet the fake news/big lie continues.

Trudeau Jr. has been accused by well-placed and public figures of attempts to pressure the Justice Minister to look the other way on a major prosecution of corporate giant and Liberal mega-donor SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. If true, such an action would be a very serious crime under Canadian law.

Responding to serious and well-documented claims to the contrary, Trudeau loudly insists he did no such thing. To date, and despite mounting evidence, he and his defenders continue to proclaim his complete innocence, while his Liberal cronies desperately try to sandbag any suggestion of an independent, Mueller-like investigation to look into these latest Ottawa machinations. Crime? What crime? Nothing to see here, folks. Trust us.

Here’s another one: “Ninety-eight per cent of all climate scientists agree man-made climate change is an existential threat to our planet.” Heard that before? Scary, isn’t it?

Except it’s not true. Research shows that ­climatic variations have been as normal and ­natural to the earth as the march of the seasons.

I make no comment on the veracity of the global warming-disaster theory, but if you do your homework, carefully study the literature and analyze the competing claims, it quickly becomes obvious that the oft-quoted 98 per cent figure is pure fabrication. Yet the fake news/big lie of imminent disaster based on overwhelming scientific support remains as popular (and unproven) as ever. Witness the ongoing looney tune impending disaster comments by U.S. Congresswoman A.O. Cortes.

More? How about the fake news/big lie that anyone who does not self-identify otherwise is, by automatic definition, a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, culture-appropriating, Islamophobic fascist or some combination thereof. As a result, attacking such people personally without any proof of actual wrongdoing is deemed fair comment by many.

This fake news/big lie is particularly distressing and dangerous because it seeks to stifle honest political discussion with a new secular inquisition committed to silencing any opinions that do not conform to its political canon.

Fake news/big lie is terribly destructive to the free and informed exchange of ideas and the reasoned discussion of political options. Unless false narratives are continually challenged in the bright light of day, they will continue to hamstring public dialogue, to the ultimate disservice of us all.  Jim Chapman

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