Bozell & Graham Column: Facebook and the 'Fake News' Crackdown

December 6th, 2016 11:52 PM

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg is under enormous pressure from the Left to crack down on “fake news” on the social-media giant. Zuckerberg is well-advised to run as far as he can from the News Police.

In a recent note on Facebook, Zuckerberg claimed he wanted to err “on the side of letting people share whatever they want whenever possible....We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead  rely on our community and trusted third parties.” The hard left, beginning with President Obama, wants to be that “community,” that supposedly disinterested “third party.” It is another step in the long march to silence conservative thought in America.

Make no mistake about it: fake news does exist. Everyone is used to false clickbait like the recent “Megyn Kelly leaving Fox?” story floating on the Internet – and when you click on it, the story claims she’s leaving to promote some blah-blah-blah skin-care product. Then there are the offshore “fake news” factories churning out “shocking” reports about Pope Francis backing Trump.

Annoyances? Yes. Threats to Western civilization? Hardly.

The Left saw an opening with talk of “fake news” – and pounced. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama slammed the Trump team: “if they just repeat attacks enough, and outright lies over and over again, as long as it's on Facebook and people can see it, as long as it's on social media, people start believing it. And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense.”

If what Trump states is false, then to give it endless oxygen by writing story after story on it is to engage in fake news.                

Fox News is mocked as “Faux News” by this camp. Obama told Rolling Stone that the problem was finding “Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country,” as inappropriate a complaint as it was exaggerated. Obama doubled down, and praised the hippie hoaxmeisters of campus rape: “Good journalism continues to this day. There's great work done in Rolling Stone.

Are the red flags for “fake news” only going to target stories that upset liberals? The leftist group Media Matters for America is claiming it will de-emphasize its Fox News obsession to focus instead on websites like Breitbart and the “alt-right” platforms in an effort to be that “trusted third party” to help run Facebook’s algorithms.

Do you think they would ever call out leftist fake news outlets like, oh, themselves?

The networks have labored mightily to avoid videotapes demonstrating Planned Parenthood has sold dead-baby parts to fetal-tissue researchers. The Left says those taped admissions are somehow faked, even after the entire footage is made available and shows no such thing. Then there’s hidden-camera footage of Democratic operatives that discussed sending thugs in “Trump is a Nazi” T-shirts to agitate Trump supporters and “draw them out to punch you" in front of the cameras. Clearly that is “fake news.” Where are Obama and Media Matters when we need them?

If messing up and publishing or broadcasting false news ruins an entire outlet as “fake news,” then goodbye, “mainstream media.” ABC faked the sales of rancid meat at Food Lion. CBS offered fake Texas Air National Guard memos against George W. Bush. NBC faked pickup truck explosions. The Washington Post had Janet Cooke. The New York Times had Jayson Blair. CNN had Peter Arnett. And Brian Williams, Brian Williams, Brian Williams.

Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t want to mess with this mess. It is censorship at its ugliest.