Editor’s Corner: The headlines you can believe in
Fake news is under attack around the world now, and it won’t be long before the fakers start getting their comeuppance. Following the French presidential election, just won by banker Emmanuel Macron, we are sure to see some hard going for French citizens and others who make up news rather than taking the trouble to report it.
Suggested punishments in France include one-million-franc fines, having any visible tattoos removed with sandpaper without benefit of anesthesia and pokes in the eyes with sharp sticks. Mr. Macron allegedly was targeted by Russian news agencies who make up stories, then make up fake truths to allegedly debunk the fake stories. One of the stories was that Mr. Macron has terrible B.O., allegedly because of his habit of consuming garlic-soaked escargot washed down with bad cabernet, and then not bathing for a week. Then along came the fake debunking, which was that the reason Mr. Macron does not take baths is that someone stole his rubber duck and he is afraid to get into the tub unless he has the duck to hang onto.
You can see the problem.
In Europe, according to Editor & Publisher, the magazine for the newspaper industry, there have been widely circulated stories about the European Union spending millions of Euros to draft international rules to regulate the ethnicity of snowmen. Another story is that the government of Sweden is financing the terrorist activities of the Islamic State, and still another is that Germans are fleeing their country because they are afraid of Muslim refugees.
Fake news is so popular in the United States that The Associated Press has set up a fake news beat to check the facts of suspect stories and unmask them as fake.
Here is a roundup of some of the most wildly popular, but completely untrue, headlines of the past week. None of these stories are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. AP checked these out; here are the real facts:
NOT REAL: Conservative Icon Ted Nugent Killed In Hunting Accident
THE FACTS: The rocker has been the subject of a death hoax published by numerous sites following his April 19 visit to the White House with Kid Rock and Sarah Palin. The hoax appears to have originated on April 28 from TheLastLineOfDefense.org, a site that includes a disclaimer that all articles are “satirical.” Nugent said in a Facebook Live video the same day that his family was “quite distraught” over the hoax, which he termed “a dirty lie.”
NOT REAL: Trump consoles Jehovah’s Witnesses on Russia ban as he worships with them
THE FACTS: Russia’s Supreme Court in late April did ban the religion’s members from operating anywhere in the country, calling the group an extremist organization, and the U.S. State Department did condemn Russia’s actions. But President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence did not respond by praying with the group in the U.S. and consoling the members, as several sites claimed. Several of the stories included a picture of the president and vice president attending a national prayer service the day after their January inauguration, falsely identifying it as a prayer service at the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
NOT REAL: Boston Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev Severely Injured In Prison, May Never Walk Or Talk Again
THE FACTS: Prison officials said no evidence supports an account widely shared on social media that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suffered “massive brain trauma” in his Massachusetts prison cell, leaving him in a pool of blood with a banana peel nearby. Tsarnaev is actually in a Colorado prison, appealing his conviction for the 2013 bombing. The piece that ran on partisan sites recently recycled a 2015 hoax piece that also quoted Aryan Brotherhood gang members claiming they beat Tsarnaev to a pulp.
NOT REAL: Next Star Wars movie to be filmed near Madera; hundreds of extras needed
THE FACTS: The only Star Wars film in production right now, the untitled Han Solo film, began principal photography in January outside London.
AND HERE is some news about the new Starbucks store scheduled to open in the Madera County Government Center at 200 W. 4th St.: This will be the first Starbucks in California to have a full bar and serve grilled hamburgers, french fries and special marijuana iced coffees.