As this continues, the waters get muddier. If Melania’s lawyer wins and a judge decides it’s the journalist’s responsibility to vet the information even when that’s impossible and decides that it’s best to report no news at all if you can’t be sure everything is accurate, then news outlets can’t report anything because it’ll be so difficult to prove something is true and because there will be a legal precedent to hand down punishment to any news outlet that lied. As I mentioned earlier, it’ll be hard for a jury to determine if a news outlet lied, and any previous news reports about whether they lied in the past or not will be difficult to trust.

If a judge decides it’s best to report nothing, then Trump needs only to claim something was fake news, which would trigger a legal investigation, and then the news outlet will realize it’s best not to report anything because not just the news outlet but the actual journalist, the individual human reporter, could be liable and could face jail time, censure, etc. At the very least, they’d almost certainly be fired in order for the news outlet to lessen any further loss of its reputation.

My conclusion of all of this? Journalism will be reduced. Courage to report anything will go down and thus reporting will go down, which means public accountability will go down. If you can’t vet information because there’s so much fake news that you can’t even trust your own sources or sources of reputable news outlets, then you get scared to report because Trump can claim fake news and trigger an investigation whenever he doesn’t like what he hears, whenever something sounds like it could be against him. Your career will be over whether you lied or not, and you might have to pay a fine and possibly serve jail time.

Claims of fake news and the subsequent inability to prove that news is real because of the prevalence of fake news allow punishment to be enforced against the reporter. By spreading fake news and making it impossible to prove what’s true and what’s not, you either report nothing or risk severe punishment.

Honestly, I think the source of fake news is Trump, is Bannon, and is the fake-news machine that he and his group have created in order to create an environment in which anything could be considered fake news. If a judge decides that this is true and also concludes that therefore you shouldn’t report anything because you know there’s a good chance it’s fake due to the prevalence of fake news, then the judge is saying there’s a high likelihood the reporter would know before reporting the news that the news would later be determined to be false, which would mean the reporter knew he/she would probably be breaking libel or slander laws. Legally, if you can reasonably assess that an action you’re about to take is a crime, then most courts would assess that you should have known to not take such action. Therefore, a guilty verdict becomes almost certain even without much evidence.

Trump and his team did this. They lied in order to get this started, and now, since they lied but they won, they get to say everyone else lied and punish anyone they want.

When lies and truth cannot be determined to be one or the other, when lies are punishable, when the power to determine is handed to the plaintiff, and when the defendant has no way to prove truth, there’s only one thing left to do: say nice things about Trump and never report anything he does wrong, which is exactly what he wants you to do.

3 comments

  1. I think you make a very valid point about the risk posed by fake news to credible journalism and reporting, especially in the early stages of news breaking when the facts and evidence are still emerging. The True Justice has made a general observation that fake news has the potential to almost imperceptibly flourish, camouflaged by human complacency regarding what they’re reading and an embedded assumption that facts have been checked and confirmed before publishing. This considers fake news from a different perspective to that taken in this article but both concur with respect to the risk to credible journalism.
    https://thetruejusticecom.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/3-reasons-you-should-care-whether-youre-reading-fake-news-or-not/

    1. Thank you for your research into this. It has become harder and harder to discern what’s true and what’s not, and the people shouldn’t blame themselves for that. This was intentional. It’s as simple as getting caught running a red light because someone told you red means go. There is no natural endpoint for stretching, obfuscating, muddying, or hiding the truth. Trump rewrote history two nights ago in Phoenix, which is worse than lying. He intentionally misled the public by defending his words with fabricated evidence.

      Those of us that are honest are in a battle with liars and those whom the truth doesn’t benefit. It’s no different from having the more dominant force in an armed conflict. Whoever has the greater resources and utilization of those resources wins. As they say, the winner gets to write the history books, and in this case, Trump has cut out the intermediate steps of fighting a war and gone straight for rewriting history.

      Regarding the ability to harm honest journalism, I think we have less to worry about in a judicial system because the effort to claim libel and force journalists to name their sources has all but fizzled away, but our eyes had better be wide open to the potential, if tapped, to shut off the mic of anyone you don’t like.

      Always remember you can keep writing. Just remember that you ought to arm yourself with 1) backup copies; 2) legal knowledge regarding your rights; and 3) the fortitude to see the challenges but not change ANYTHING you’re doing. Do not self-censor, do not hedge your statements or speak in hypotheticals. Be yourself and defend that, and remind everyone else to do the same. The end of the road is mindlessly repeating whatever our controllers would say instead of using critical thinking skills.

      So keep going. Thank you for visiting my blog. Happy to have you here!

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