CNN's Jake Tapper Explores The Epidemic Of Fake News Being Spread On Facebook And Google

Tapper: Trump's National Security Advisor “Wouldn't Tweet It If It Weren't True, Right? False”

From the November 17 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:

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JAKE TAPPER (HOST): There was a time when false news stories were just emailed to you by your crazy uncle Frank. A long screed in all caps about how this politician was part of a crime family, or secretly responsible for a terrorist attack, or gay, or a murderer. But today, that crazy misinformation comes neatly packaged and professionally presented. Places such as the “Denver Guardian,” breathlessly and falsely reporting, quote, “FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apparent murder-suicide.” Not true. Didn't happen. And the “Denver Guardian” is not a real source of news. One cray-cray story in the thick of the election suggested that First Lady Michelle Obama was so concerned about a pending arrest of Hillary Clinton, the first lady was scrubbing all references to Clinton from her Twitter accounts. And that fake story was shared by a top talk radio host with his audience. Now there is no data providing that this fake news phenomenon had an impact on the election but it is, without question, a problem. So much so that earlier today President Obama condemned it. 


TAPPER: Retired General Michael Flynn, who has the inside track to become president-elect Donald Trump's national security advisor took to Twitter days before the election and forwarded this false and rather unhinged story suggesting that the NYPD had found evidence of so many crimes on Anthony Weiner's laptop, including pedophilia, that Hillary Clinton and her crew would be put away for life. The story on something called “TruePundit Dot Com” was a complete lie. Nonetheless, Flynn tweeted it to his tens of thousands of followers. “You decide,” he wrote. It has since been retweeted nearly 7,000 times. After all, General Flynn, the former head of the defense intelligence agency, wouldn't tweet it if it weren't true, right? False. Twitter streams and Facebook news feeds flooded with falsehoods have become so prevalent it was called out today by the leader of the free world. 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we are not serious about facts, if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems. 

TAPPER: In an era when sharing a story is easier than fact checking one, the battle for the truth is difficult. 


TAPPER: Contributing to the craze is a deepening distrust in mainstream media. Some of it sewn by giant missteps such as the false Rolling Stone story about a nonexistent gang rape on a college campus, along with the perception that media organizations are choosing political sides.

DONALD TRUMP: A bunch of phony lowlifes. They're disgraceful.


TAPPER: And it turns out, lying is a lucrative business. According to BuzzFeed, fake news stories far outperformed legitimate ones on Facebook in the weeks leading up to election day. 

LUCAS GRAVES: We have kind of a perfect storm in some ways, because the media economy today really rewards stories that go viral. The stories that tend to go viral are those that tap right into our political instincts. So there is a strong incentive for people who are trying to make money. 

TAPPER: One man behind the hoaxes told The Washington Post, “there's nothing you can't write about now that people won't believe.” Adding that “Trump's campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3500 as fact. Like, I made that up.”


TAPPER: Some conservatives say part of the blame for the phenomenon lies with those who treated popular left-leaning satire programs such as The Daily Show as legitimate news sources even though they engaged in deceptive editing for comedy's sake. 


TAPPER: Both Facebook and Google have announced they'll no longer allow fake news sites to use their ad selling services; a small effort to slow a rumor mill that is running faster than ever.



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