Fake news! We’ve all heard it, time and time again. But what is fake news?
Is it an advert or political statement that is full of lies and deceit? Is it a statement purposely put out to sway your ideas in a particular direction? Make you believe what they want you to believe.
Let’s take Brexit, what was the fake news? That millions will be available to the NHS blazingly written on the side of a bus or that choosing Brexit will be a cliff edge scenario; we will go into a recession? With regards to Brexit, when it comes to the Remain side, all their arguments are just negative statements “its’ a cliff edge,” “stockpiling medicines and food”, “we are safer together” – words of no substance. They might well have said “we’re all doomed; we are going to die if we Leave!” Remain voters, and I’ve asked quite a few, will always give the same answer, similar to one of those above.
The other day I joined the Question Time audience. Many people have said that this programme is ‘set up’ but I wanted to see for myself. I wrote my two questions and having to wait nearly two or so hours before the programme started, I managed to go around the room to talk to the ‘diverse and evenly balanced audience members’. However, I found it hard to find any Leavers, and was only aware of some Leave voters, when later on, one or two managed to be chosen from the audience in reply to the panel’s comments.
Of all the ‘remain voters’ I questioned, their answers were the same. “Why did you vote Remain? Just one sound bite quote was given. After changing my question to “Please don’t answer with a quote you’ve heard, why did YOU vote Remain?” Every answer, and I mean, every answer, was complete silence until I gave them the answer “is it, I suppose, best the devil you know, than the devil you don’t” which was greeted with a smile and a nod of assurance. How many Leavers ‘did their homework’? Many I would estimate. I know I did. Spent so many hours reading articles, books, even documents hot off the EU web site itself; so much so, that after every Treaty I read, I began to think I could pass an ‘A’ level exam in the EU, it’s function, it’s treaties and sail through with honours! – all this before any debates or ‘fake news’ was given out.
So how balanced was the audience? How fair is the programme? Upon arriving, I gave my name to a lady at a desk who later on helped the Director and Floor Manager sort the audience (you’ve already given your details and referendum choice by telephone a day or so before).
I entered the room chatting to another lady, but was shown a single seat. How did they know I was on my own? I was asked twice, which way did I vote, and I gave my honest answer, and I was not surprised that not one of my two questions (you are given the chance to write down two questions but have to give your name as well) were not picked. Being amongst the audience is different to watching on the television. You get a feel for the atmosphere; you can see people’s reactions. To say my arm and shoulder ached from desperately holding it up to be chosen to speak, at the end of the evening, would be an understatement. I tried to get in with my comments, but they were not going to have that! On reflection, I should’ve just thrown caution to the wind, and shouted out what I thought, but then my upbringing came into play, and I just don’t behave like that – a shame, I need to change. The two ladies and gentleman I sat next to seemed nice enough and chatty until they asked me how I had voted, and their attitude changed. When anything anti-Brexit was said, I would estimate that at least three quarters of the audience clapped in agreement. How balanced was that? I knew I was sitting in the ‘lion’s den’, I could feel it, and I witnessed it.
So I go back to ‘fake news’ – is it just news? Is it just the online media? Or is it big organisations like the BBC, Sky News as well, in their programmes? Perhaps fake is the wrong word, perhaps biased would be more appropriate. Isn’t that just as bad? Currently the ‘news’ channels are constantly mentioning the word ‘second referendum’ or ‘people’s vote on the deal’, so much so, that you would believe that the majority of the country feel this is what should happen. The EU referendum would tell you differently 17.4 million plus voted to leave, and those that didn’t vote, no doubt were happy to go with the majority, similar to general elections.
So if you want to avoid fake news, I would suggest you research your own question from numerous sources, even talk to others, before believing a word any of these media organisations purport to be telling you is the truth.