David Letterman used to do a comedy piece having the audience determine whether photos of various entertainers and celebrities were wearing their real hair or a toupee’. The audience would shout out, their opinion…” real” or “fake” at each photo. Sound familiar?
Well, not many are laughing now that we daily are subjected to such a debate about all the different sources of information coming at us across the media spectrum. Recently Mark Folllman, authored a piece in Mother Jones magazine, that for those in and outside the media, presents a real subject and needs to be taken seriously. And yes, at the annual Washington Correspondents’ Dinner while doing its best to take comedic jabs at the subject, many of the attending media celebrities made serious in their comments.
Of course, there is nothing new about administrations claiming the media is biased in its reporting…or try to manipulate the news to its advantage. That’s a time honored tradition practiced by all those on Mount Rushmore and some. The media was given the title, “the Fourth Estate” because that has always been its role in government…to objectively offer a counter balance to the three branches in power. What’s different today, like the Presidency itself, is both the lack of civility and the means of communicating it. The “bully pulpit” has become the “twitter pulpit’ instantly conveying an opinion to fervent followers. And, witnessing Sean Spicer struggle daily with what he hopes is his boss’s current position on real and fake, has become the new definition of “real news.”
Which news stories can we believe, when carefully researched facts can still be presented in a biased manner? Does it simply come down to, if we like the source, then it must be “real,” and if we don’t like the source, then it is always, “fake”? That content is not nearly as important as the author’s perceived politics? Ironically, it was another late night comedian, Jimmy Fallon, who messed with the famous Trump hair, and thus established it was not a toupee, but “real.” Or was that staged? We live in a strange time where as Mr. Follman, states, “Fake news is chillingly real”…or is it?