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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Political Commentary > Political correctness is the real problem when talking about “fake news”

Political correctness is the real problem when talking about “fake news”

Marisa Treviño
LatinaLista

If there’s one aspect of a Trump administration I can get on board with, it is the demise of political correctness. President-Elect Trump has shown to be a master of political incorrectness. He calls it as he believes it — and we should all follow his example.

And I know just where to start — with “fake news.”

Let’s get rid of the overly polite 21st Century term “fake news.” In reality, fake news has been around for as long as there have been eager people to hear/read it, believe it and spread it.

Fake news is nothing more than rumor or gossip. Unlike satire, think of Steve Colbert, rumor/gossip/fake news is not a sophisticated, creative way to express social criticism. Rather, it’s a malicious intent to harm someone else’s reputation, business, religion, sexual identity, etc.

Fake news is nada más than bold-faced mentiras (lies).

In recent months, the nation has witnessed an onslaught of these lies, with scary repercussions.

Take for example, Pizzagate. A vicious lie was circulated online that Hillary Clinton was connected to a child sex ring being run out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. Because one dunce-head, 28-year-old Edgar Welch, believed the lie and envisioned himself a modern-day superhero, who could swoop in and save those imaginary children, several people were needlessly traumatized when Welch showed up at the pizza place with his gun.

The saddest commentary on this situation is that Welch isn’t the only one who believed the lie. According to a poll from Public Policy Polling, nearly 50 percent of Trump supporters believe the Pizzagate lie.

The latest lie to capture the conspiracy-hunting mindset of Trump supporters — get ready — is Disney’s new ‘Star Wars’ movie. A Trump supporter is lying to people saying that Disney reshot the movie to include an anti-Trump message. Without even seeing the film, people are believing this latest lie and began the hashtag #DumpStarWars. Of course, Disney now has to clarify that this is a lie but it’s obvious that there are way too many people nowadays who prefer to believe lies, even when the truth is presented.

But all these lies have to start somewhere. Researchers have found that these lies have been spreading quickly online with help from a number of “foreign players.” Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Russia, North Korea – the list reads like a Who’s Who of grudge-bearing adversaries and opportunists.

The only way to counter the spread and belief of these lies is for people to hear leadership denouncing them. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have spoken out against “fake news” but, sadly, that kind of leadership won’t come from our President-Elect. A major part of his political incorrectness is his habitual ‘exaggeration of the facts.’

For instance, Trump claimed he would have won the popular vote had there not been “millions of illegal voters for Clinton.” His comments immediately drew rebuke and was condemned by state election officials and many in the GOP. But it doesn’t matter to Trump’s supporters. He said it; they believe it.

Another time, of which there are quickly becoming too many to review, President-Elect Trump implied in several tweets to his followers that he single-handedly talked Ford Motor Company into not closing a Kentucky plant and moving jobs to Mexico. The only problem was Ford was never closing the plant. As the Quartz news site noted: Trump’s false tweets about Ford are feeding America’s “fake news” problem.

When lies are framed as news, we have a problem. But when lies are knowingly presented as fact then we have more than just a problem. We have the beginnings of a collapse of the very moral values that have elevated, sustained and attracted global admiration since our country’s founding — and that’s a crisis.

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