Crying Wolf

The power of the investigative press—whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign—will grow weaker. –Masha Gessan

I have some deep concerns with the Trump Administration’s agenda. It is critically important that those who are in opposition and resistance remain engaged and vigilant. A strong democracy relies on a free press and educated citizenry. As such, it is imperative that we are informed and critical of media messages that serve up fear and hype.

The Hill published an article titled: “Trump Team Prepares Dramatic Cuts.” The article provides some information about Trump transition team’s outline for shrinking the government spending. It’s list some proposed cuts to the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Transportation, Justice, and State. Additionally, there is proposal for privatizing Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities.

The article then moves from reporting potentially factual information to pure speculation that spiraled into tweets, Facebook posts, and other news reports suggesting that Trump’s team was cutting funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant programs.“The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.” Note: There was nothing in the article that actually stated that Trump’s team was going to cut VAWA programs instead the speculation was based on the Blueprint for Reform from the Heritage Foundation.

This type of reporting and the immediate reactions concern me and feed “fake news” claims. It essentially helps to empower Trump and undermines any opposition to him by creating hysteria without fact. Thus, delegitimizing   factually based calls for action and alarm. Critical consumption of media and thoughtful responses are necessary for sustained resistance to the Trump administration. Yet, we have to be careful about judgements based on little to no evidence.  We need to be good consumers of media and resist the hype being sold via the 24/7 news cycle that ultimately feeds Trump. We must be diligent and not create false alarms.

Here are some resources on critical consumption of media:

Dr. Melissa Zimdars’ False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources 

Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts

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