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Melissa Zimdars: The Truth About Fake News

user profile picture Adam Taggart Apr 30, 2017
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In the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election, "fake news" was blamed as a major reason for Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton. A wide range of players, from Russian propagandists to paid partisan puppeteers, were accused of fabricating stories which were then widely circulated via social media to influence the hearts and minds of voters.

A national debate then raged — and still does — about whether "fake news" truly exists and, if so, should it be tolerated. And, immediately after the election, a number of major media outlets, including Google and Facebook, announced planned steps to block 'suspect' content sources on their platforms.

Amidst this tumult, a college professor compiled an aggregated list of "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources", which quickly became known as the "fake news list". The mainstream media immediately latched on to this list of culprits, and circulated it heavily across the headlines of major outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, Fox News, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider and The Dallas Morning News

(Full disclosure: this website, PeakProsperity.com, was initially included on the list. We've learned it has since been removed.)

So many questions have been raised by this list. Is naming these sources a public service? Or it is censorship? What criteria are used to declare content "fake"? Who comes up with those criteria, and who is making the decisions? What are their qualifications? Is it the media's job to "protect" the public from information? Or is it the reader's responsibility to judge for themselves what is and isn't a trustworthy source?

To explore answers to these — and many more — questions, on this week's podcast we discuss the "fake news list" with its creator, Dr. Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communications at Merrimack College.

Chris' line of inquiry is brutally direct. And many of Dr. Zimdars' answers are more nuanced then many of her critics will expect. Wherever you fall on this topic, you'll find this an exceptionally open, frank debate of the key issues at stake on the public's right to information in the modern age.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Dr. Melissa Zimdars (33m:57s).

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