Posts Tagged ‘Fake News’

Here is the last installment of quotes from Frank J Romano’s book Frank Talk, The Computer Did It 

“Buzzwords are fast food for thought.”

On the topic of “fake news” before the word was coined:

“What happens when artificial intelligence meets artificial reality? National Enquirer.”

The ice is melting in Antarctica. Years before we knew this, Romano wrote:

“Archaeologists have discovered that Antarctica, when viewed from above, has the notation ‘This continent intentionally left blank.’ God may be getting ready for an update.”

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Thanks to president Trump, the phrase “Fake News” has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it something new? Is it something pseudo journalists have cooked up, a current conspiracy, to dupe the public? Are we more gullible now than we were in previous times? Strangely, no. The idea of fake news has been around for centuries.

138 years ago one Canadian priest by the name of Fr. Charles Chiniquay, tried his best to promote an outrageous fake news story. He had been a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, who when he was a lawyer, had successfully defended him in a liable suit in Chicago Illinois. In 1858 Fr. Chiniquay left the Catholic Church and joined the Presbyterian Church. After Lincoln was assassinated, he believed and stated that Jesuit priests and the Vatican were the masterminds behind Lincoln’s assassination. Of course facts in stories in credible newspapers debunked this but I’m sure this “plot” appeared true to anyone who had a dislike for Catholicism!

That story has mostly been buried by the passage of time. But just think about the more “recent” assassination of JFK. All the “fake” facts that still float around, all the fake plots that were behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s motivations, live on decades later.

And for how many decades have we had the National Inquirer and newspapers of that ilk, print fake news too outrageous for a sane person to believe? Yet people do think those stories are true. So fake news has been around ever since humankind could talk, ever since the vice of gossip reared its ugly head. It’s just that “Fake News” is a more catchy name for it! I think CBS News This Morning has a great tagline for its show: “More Real News”…as if anyone can tell the difference at 5 am in the morning!

On Jan 11 we saw on a national scale how untrue words, i.e. “Fake News” can hurt. No, president-elect Trump didn’t reveal whether the story about him hurt him psychologically, but it did create a hostile attitude towards CNN, took time away from the important items of the press conference, and kept people still wondering about the truth.

We are all guilty of spreading “Fake News” in the form of gossip. And sometimes even “good news” or honest words, when revealed at the wrong time, can have a detrimental affect on the listener.

Yesterday morning I found it ironic that a story from the Gospel of St. Mark (Mark 1:40-45) dealt with this very topic. In the Catholic Church’s Mass, readings go in a 3 year cycle and today’s was selected long before the Trump incident occurred. In this reading we have Jesus, teacher and healer, healing a leper and asking him to tell no one about how he was cured. The leper, however, delighted that he has been cured tells EVERYONE he meets! Yes, good news but its affect on Jesus’ ministry is that he now is mobbed everywhere he goes by people who want to be cured. Our priest used this as a teaching point in his homily: Whether good or fake news, our responsibility in using our gift of language is to take care in what we say and when we say it.

Words matter not only in their content but also in their timing and to whom we speak them.