Fake News

Fake News, Hybrid News and the White House Newspaper

Briebart.com reported that on New Year’s Eve, an angry mob of Muslim men in the German city Dortmund set fire to the country’s oldest church while chanting “Allahu Akbar.”  USA Today reported today,

Schraven said the story about the Muslim mob in Dortmund, published by the right-wing website Breitbart, illustrates how fact and fiction can be blended to pernicious effect.

Police said a stray firework started a small blaze on scaffolding that covered the

donald-trump-reince-priebus-steve-bannon-twitter-dan-scavino

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and Reince Priebus

church. It was not Germany’s oldest. There was no angry mob. Yet the story spread rapidly around the world. Breitbart has stood by the article while also announcing further expansions into Germany and France, which holds its presidential election in April.

Steve Bannon, Breitbart’s former editor, is now President Trump’s chief White House strategist and senior counselor.

USA Today describes this story as a new kind of fake news.  It is based on some facts that are then exaggerated and combined other information that is not true.  A new term is being used to refer to this kind of fake news: ‘hybrid news.’  Because it has one foot in the truth, this kind of fake news can be more effective.

Andre Wolf, who coordinates social media for Mimikama, an Austrian fact-checking website, said it has debunked more than 10,000 false German-language news stories since it was set-up in 2011. He said the content is getting more aggressive and politically heated ahead of the election.

“It’s related to refugees or Muslims and political leaders, and it’s often what we call ‘hybrid news,'” he said. “The facts about time and place might be true but they are built around a false story or doctored photograph.

Steve Bannon’s role as Trump’s chief White House strategist and senior counselor is evidence the White House intends to use ‘hybrid news’ as a strategy, like it is used by Brietbart.com.  Kellyanne Conway recently gave us a glimpse of what we should expect in the future with her recent reference to ‘the Bowling Green Massacre.’

The Washington Post reported today that,

Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level.

During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”conway

“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.

The Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else.

It appeared initially that Conway was referring to two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green who were arrested in 2011 and eventually sentenced to federal prison for attempting to send weapons and money to al-Qaeda in Iraq for the purpose of killing U.S. soldiers, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Friday morning she acknowledged that with a tweet….

Conway refers to the “Bowling Green Massacre” two minutes and forty seconds into the video below.

Conway also referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre” in interviews on January 29th with Cosmopolitan and with TMZ.

This White House is not merely lying to the public.  They are lying repeatedly and they are getting more obnoxious about it as time goes by.  Take a careful look at just how condescending Kellyanne Conway acts in the videos above as she literally makes up a “massacre.”  She smiles as she points out to Chris Matthews that the media did not even cover this “massacre.”  Are we actually supposed to believe the other things she says in these interviews?  Or any other?  If she is actually willing to make up a “massacre” on national television, there is no reason to assume she would not lie about anything else she said in the interview.  The New York Times reported on Sunday, February 5th, that CNN declined to have Conway come on their network as a representative of the White House, in part because of “serious questions about her credibility.”

breitbart-tweaked

Andrew Briebart, Fearless

The Brietbart News Network has earned a reputation for serving fake and hybrid news to the alt-right loudly, proudly and obnoxiously.  There is an image they use to promote the network of Andrew Brietbart, the founder, screaming with his eyes closed.  It captures an attitude the organization conveys.  The White House and it’s default news arm, The Brietbart News Network, are systematically using ‘hybrid news’ and a heightened level of obnoxiousness as a political strategy.

It appears the White House and The Brietbart News Network will be turning this strategy on the French in April and then the Germans.  The default news arm of the White House has already been targeting one of our allies for sometime now.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term, is a major target of conspiracy theories and other partisan falsehoods because of her liberal refugee policies that have admitted 1 million migrants in the past two years to the dismay of right-wing, nationalist groups.

She also is a staunch backer of economic sanctions against Russia for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea Province, as well as a champion of NATO and the EU — alliances that frustrate Russia, which is often accused by other governments of planting fake news and hacking sensitive emails that interfere with elections, such as helping elect Donald Trump president, as the FBI alleges. Russia denies the charges.

Let’s consider what is facing Angela Merkel and the fate of democracies in this information age.  We have the Russian Troll farms where hundreds of trolls work 24 hours a day posting information supporting the Russian government.  We have ‘fake’ and ‘hybrid news’ sites like RT, and Sputnik that are now training their sites on Merkel.  China has a “50 cent party” that is known to have paid “a team of commenters 600 yuan a month in 2004, plus half a yuan – hence “50 cent” – for each glowing post they made.”

The Israeli government has for some time had a presence on many social media platforms.  In 2013, they began to step up their efforts.

 In 2013, the Israeli government revealed that it would also recruit “covert units” however. These would be staffed by a mixture of international supporters and domestic students, whose high intelligence, low income and familiarity with social media make them generally well suited to professional trolling. “We need a unified effort to explain why we have a legal right to be here in Israel,” the Knesset member Dov Lipman told the Jerusalem Post. “That is key to defeat the movements pushing to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.” Those who signed up would get quick access to government information, and leaders of student groups would also be awarded scholarships.

The reality is that in this information age we will need to defend democracies online as well as off line.  Democracies are in an information war.  The 2016 election was our Pearl Harbor.  The enemies of democracy have taken over the White House and our now using it as platform to undermine democracies around the world and here at home.

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