A Brief History of Fake News

Some people are under the impression that mainstream news has only recently become a hotbed for false narratives and bias reporting - here's why it always has been

No matter what your political leanings are, in this day and age most people are aware that at least some of the mainstream news organizations are biased and push narratives onto the public. What few people are aware of however, is just how pervasive the problem really is.


The media has a tremendous amount of power and influence over modern civilization - it can shape people's views on the world and of their own society, it can influence elections from a municipal all the way to a federal level, it can draw attention to issues and shift it away from others, and it can even drive people to hysterical beliefs. This has been true for quite some time, but with the increasingly online and always connected society we currently live in, people's lives are affected now more than ever.


It's gotten to the point that some people are even driven to depression and despair - some the less critical-minded people in our society have been led by members of the media and prominent environmental groups to believe the world is coming to an end in the near future and unless we take drastic action we have precious little time to live. Unfortunately many of those people simply don't know better, and have been targeted at a young age to believe in the latest hysterical beliefs that have very little basis in reality.


Now this sounds like complete lunacy, and it is, but that makes it no less real - climate change activists like Greta Thunberg and her accomplices in the media are instilling fear in the minds of many. If you've read my rant on climate change you'll be well aware of some of the massive holes in this doomsday rhetoric.


It's no surprise that the media is actively disseminating this agenda - after all, negative and impending-doom stories get a lot of hits on social media and grabs viewer's attention, supplying media corporations with much-needed ad revenue. It also tends to fool the young crowd which is also the most active online.


Of course the climate change narrative pales in comparison to the anti-Trump agenda spewed by almost every news broadcaster and website in North America. Whether it be the thoroughly false Russian collusion nonsense, the ridiculous and beyond parady Steele dossier, the disgusting smear campaign on Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the media's infatuation with Trump-smearing con-artist Michael Avenatti, or any number of headline-grabbing hit jobs that then get retracted due to provably false statements, if you follow mainstream news you'd think Trump was a tyrannical, racist demon.


You'd have no idea about the massive economic boom that's taken place under Trump, the influx of jobs he's brought back to America, record-low unemployment numbers for minorities and women, his vital role in stabilizing the Korean Peninsula, the decimation of ISIS, and even his work to crack down on human trafficking and pedophile rings, which you'd hope everyone could agree on as being a good thing.


Nowadays, the blatant bias and narrative pushing is incredibly transparent. "Journalists" and reporters post clear political agendas on their public social media accounts, no longer even attempting to hide their personal bias. Anyone in Hollywood that doesn't support leftist ideology is black listed and shunned by their peers, conservative voices in media are held to very different standards by their employers than liberals, and Republicans are smeared as racist or unintelligent on news programs the world over.


Though mainstream media and politicians would never accept any blame for their antics, their misinformation has even led to violent action, such as the man who attacked an ICE detention facility in Tacoma with a rifle and incendiary devices.


Despite having border facilities to temporarily house illegal border crossers for decades, the news has pinned these facilities on Trump. Spreading false information such as that Trump is keeping children in cages (often sharing photos that were taken years before Trump was in office, in which Obama was president) or that he's neglecting the people there is ironic given that it is actually the Democrats and media that have created and are exacerbating the problem.


The border facilities have been overrun with people illegally crossing into the US and when caught, claiming they're just there to ask for asylum. It's a legal loophole that has existed for quite some time and certain Democrat politicians have even been encouraging people from third-world countries to use this tactic - looking at you Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These facilities were not meant to house near the amount of people that are currently being held and when Trump wanted to change the laws to prevent this issue, Democrats refused to budge. When Trump wanted to increase the budget for the facilities to help mitigate the overcrowding and understaffing at the border, Democrats again refused to negotiate.


Democrats solution has been to let these "migrants" go into the United States, a policy that directly places American lives in danger and effectively removes the border as a safeguard for American communities, despite the fact that gang members (such as the notoriously brutal MS-13), convicted criminals, and human traffickers are regularly amongst those detained at the border.


It was a devious political ploy that actually took policies that have been in place for decades, and even used footage and photos from Obama's tenure, to paint Trump into a corner. Some politicians (looking at you again Ocasio-Cortez) have gone so far as to claim that Trump is running concentration camps, a disgusting smear that has no merit and has even drawn the ire of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust in the US. That rhetoric led one activist to attack the afforementioned detention facility in Tacoma, which of course Cortez nor any in the media claimed any responsibility for (she even went so far as to refuse to denounce the attack).


So what has gotten us to this point?


Well, it turns out, fake news has been a common thread throughout history.


While it may have become more and more obvious to those paying attention, fake news used to be a lot more subtle - it often took years or even decades to expose many of the biggest falsehoods disseminated by the mainstream media, with those suspicious of particular stories or claiming it to be false labelled as "conspiracy theorists". This rhetoric is even more prevalent today - if you don't believe what the news is selling you, or you distrust "trusted" sources like CNN or the New York Times, then you're a conspiracy theorist, or a far-right fool.


Speaking of the New York Times, let's take a look at one of the biggest proponents of fake news, and some of their history with the subject.


The Holodomor

In the 1930s, millions of people died of starvation in the Ukraine thanks to the USSR's communist leader Joseph Stalin. While some argue he didn't intentionally starve the Ukrainians as an act of genocide and it was merely his misguided economic policies that led to the disaster, regardless of some dubious defenses it nonetheless led to between 2.5 and 10 million people being starved to death directly as a result of Stalin's actions.


So what did the New York Times have to report on the matter at the time?


"People were hungry, but not starving".


This incredulous claim was the work of Walter Duranty, the head of the New York Times' Moscow bureau at the time. The newspaper reported that there was "no famine or actual starvation", directly rebutting reports from the few other journalists at the time that were accurately reporting on the USSR's territories.


Reports from the Guardian for instance portrayed a very different scenario - one in which an entire country was being starved and slowly killed while the rest of the world did nothing to help them. Gareth Jones was the correspondent writing those reports, and for his efforts the New York Times smeared him as a liar and claimed he was spreading propaganda.


The Guardian was one of the few publications at the time reporting on the situation accurately - though none were as brazen as Duranty, many other reporters covering the region slanted the situation in the Soviet Union's favour, often out of fear of being expelled from Moscow which would lead to the loss of their livelihood at a time no one could afford such a thing given it was during the Great Depression.


So why did Duranty and the NYT cover up Stalin's starvation of the Ukrainian people so aggressively?


Money and access, of course.


Duranty managed to get exclusive interviews with the ruthless communist leader for the paper, a major win for the New York Times that helped their bottom line. Everybody won in their little arrangement - Stalin got positive press coverage to help cover up his misdeeds, the New York Times got exclusive access to the USSR's despot to help sell papers, and Duranty got to live a lavish lifestyle in an exquisite hotel with luxurious amenities paid for by the Times. Everybody won; except for the millions starving to death in the Ukraine of course.


Duranty wasn't simply a naive puppet in this case - he was fully aware of the reality of the situation, which he admitted to in a visit to the British Embassy in Moscow in 1934, even claiming that as many as 10 million people had died from the famine. But he was living in luxury that few at the time could have imagined - he had a maid, a chauffeur, a cook, a secretary, and a researcher to do all the leg work. All he had to do was write some puff pieces praising the USSR and covering up its atrocities, and he got to keep his extravagant lifestyle in exchange.


And write those puff pieces he did. His series of articles on the Russian people, arguing that they were "Asiatic" in thought and required autocratic government, won a Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence in 1932. His reporting apparently even played a key factor in US President Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 decision to officially recognize the Soviet Union.


Over a decade later when the truth was made clear, Duranty defended his earlier reporting, becoming a full-on Stalin apologist and claiming that the starvation was caused by Stalin's need to keep the Red Army equipped to dissuade Japanese aggression toward their territory, and was not an intentional genocide attempt.


The Times was largely quiet on their blatant Soviet propaganda campaign after it was unearthed, until many years later in 1990 when it was brought to the fore once again thanks to a novel detailing Duranty's reporting and deep Soviet ties. The Times issued a scathing editorial and claimed Duranty's work was some of the worst reporting to ever grace the newspaper. The paper's long overdue response was more than a little hollow - it's easy to say nearly 60 years later that previous staff which no longer worked for the paper fucked up.


If nothing else, the New York Times Holodomor scandal shows just how much news corporations have been willing to bend the truth in order to get exclusive access to major figures and insider information, even if it means throwing morality out of the window.


Project Veritas

Project Veritas is an operation dedicated to exposing companies such as mainstream media corporations for their political bias and shady dealings. It gained online fame through a series of undercover videos which expose news executives in what they thought were private conversations admitting to deceiving the public.


These videos include a senior producer at CNN admitting they still had no proof of any Trump wrongdoing in the Russian collusion investigation even after CNN CEO Jeff Zucker had ordered staff to pursue all Russia leads at the expense of other stories, admissions from Twitter executives that they censor political content that they don't like and employees regularly view supposedly "private" information from their users for fun and sell metadata of that information to advertisers, and a senior staff editor at the New York Times admitting the paper sensationalized Trump during his election campaign in such a way as to dissuade people from voting for him (effectively meddling in an election, exactly what the paper repeatedly claimed Russia did).


In it's most recent and high profile exposé, footage of an ABC news anchor talking to her producer on a hot mic was released to the public. Not realizing someone might share her off-air remarks, the anchor went on a rant to her producer about how she had an exclusive interview several years ago with an accuser of Jeffrey Epstein, who supplied evidence (including photos and documents) to support her claims.


If you've been living under a rock for the last year and somehow haven't heard of Epstein, the disgraced billionaire and convicted pedophile was arrested for the final time earlier this year after evidence mounted that the supposed "hedge fund manager and financier" was running an international pedophile ring.


Many major political players and celebrities were implicated by their ties to Epstein, who was a longtime Democrat donor and a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton alongside many others. Since his arrest, reports and witness testimony have linked other big names directly to criminal activity, including a former US governor, a former chairman of the board for Disney, and Britain's Prince Andrew.


In August 2019 Epstein was found dead in his prison cell from an "apparent suicide" despite suffering multiple fractures in his neck which would be virtually impossible to achieve by himself given the size of his cell and what he had access to.


Epstein had allegedly kept detailed records and even video evidence of the very powerful people he associated with, leading him to be killed in a rather transparent cover-up that even the most gullible fool wouldn't be duped by. People on both sides of the political spectrum were united in believing that Epstein was murdered, but we've yet to see any consequences or ramifications from this play out.


The New York DOJ had declared prior to his "suicide" that they had found DVD's or CD's in a locked safe in his $77 million New York penthouse (which was "given" to him, free of charge, by Les Wesner, the owner of Victoria's Secret who since claimed to be a victim of Epstein's fraud, despite being accused of being an Epstein accomplice by multiple women) which had "young [name] + [name]" written on their labels with the first redacted names being the names of unknown females and the second being the names of prominent and powerful figures.


Since his death, those apparent blackmail tapes haven't been mentioned again by the DOJ nor anyone in the media.


Of note, Prince Andrew had already seen scandal by UK tabloids years ago as he was seen multiple times by paparazzi at Epstein's New York residence, one of the locations said crimes were allegedly committed. The UK press put him under scrutiny for being around Epstein after Epstein had pled guilty to state charges and became a convicted pedophile back in 2008 (though his ridiculous plea deal allowed him to escape federal charges and serve mere months in jail, where he was allowed to do virtually whatever he pleased thanks to the power of bribery). While the scandal wasn't touched on in the US, the UK did at least cover Andrew's curious ties to a known pedophile.


That scandal would become a full-on firestorm in recent months as more allegations linking the member of the royal family to pedophilia and forced prostitution. Prince Andrew has even submitted himself to an interview regarding the situation, vehemently denying any wrongdoing and instead saying he should have known better than to associate with a man like Epstein. The interview only further incriminates him however as multiple claims he made during the interview don't add up including his bizaare claim about sweating not to mention his questionable body language; it doesn't take a body language expert to watch the interview and believe he's not being truthful, but there are plenty of experts that confirmed those suspicions.


You may be wondering, why is the Prince Andrew bit of the story so importart?


Well if you watch the Project Veritas video, the ABC news anchor points specifically to the royal family as being one of the key reasons ABC squashed her interview and the team's damning report on Epstein some three years ago.


When the royal palace found out that ABC had these allegations against Prince Andrew, they threatened the news organization, including the notion of withdrawing access to Prince William and his wife Kate. ABC as such decided to sit on the story to preserve their access to the royal family, much to the chagrin of this particular ABC news host.


While she seems more pissed off about losing out on the story rather than the fact that "the most prol