REALLY? FAKE NEWS COVERAGE OF THE PRESIDENT’S FAKE NEWS AWARDS

“Trump’s Fake News Awards were a Huge Flop,” blared a Washington Post headline. According to the article, this is because many who tried to access the website where the President’s picks were listed were met with an error message. Also, the Post concluded that the President had “no plan,” which resulted in his choosing reports that were not outrageous enough.[1], [2] Additionally, the Post fact checkers concluded that the president’s picks are not valid because most of the reporters have subsequently issued corrections, retractions, and apologies.[3]

 

The Washington Post, who ranked fifth among the president’s top picks, is justified in being offended by the president’s antics. However, it is odd that they would choose to respond to the president’s fake news awards with coverage that fits into what could arguably be defined as fake news. Contrary to being a “huge flop,” fake news has been part of the cultural conversation for the past two weeks. Since tweeting on January 2 his intention to announce the winners of the fake news awards, Google searches for “fake news” and “fake news awards” have increased exponentially, resulting in it being the most searched topic on the evening of the president’s announcement, according to Google Trends.[4], [5], [6] And the reason people received an error message when accessing GOP.com to view the results was because the website was inundated with enough traffic to crash the site, according the GOP who tweeted, “Tonight, gop.com saw more traffic than ever before. Even though the servers were scaled up, the interest was even greater than anticipated. Traffic is off the charts. Come back soon.”[7]

 

If the purpose of the awards, as the president tweeted, was to draw attention to the “dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted” reporting by our nation’s most trusted news services, then the president’s fake news awards must be deemed a success.[8] The prospect of the president’s awards was discussed by everyone from mainstream media outlets to late night comedians, with Trevor Noah,[9] Stephen Colbert,[10] and Samantha Bee[11] endeavoring to outperform one another in advertisements nominating themselves for the award. Stephen Colbert even purchased a “for your consideration” billboard in Times Square suggesting himself for nine self-created categories—a stunt that was widely reported, even by The Washington Post.[12], [13] And ordinary individuals across the country engaged in submitting nominations via YouTube, talk radio, and blogs.

 

Given the hype, the actual presentation of the awards was anticlimactic, but this does not justify labeling the awards a “huge flop.”[14] Rather, this may have been by design. Had the president provided pageantry or a ranting speech, the media could have focused its commentary on whether such behavior is appropriate from a sitting president. Instead, the president chose a path that reframed the question to whether it is appropriate for a sitting president to remind the nation of widely shared news stories about himself which have been proven to be false.

 

Many of the news outlets have chosen to entirely ignore the president’s awards. Perhaps this is because the president’s accusations at GOP.com can be readily verified. The Washington Post fact check concludes, “To sum up, at least eight of the ‘Fake News’ winners resulted in corrections, with two reports prompting suspensions or resignations. Two of the winners were simply tweets that were quickly corrected and never resulted in news articles. One was an opinion article in which the author later retracted his prediction.” Yet even this is both inaccurate and misleading. One of those tweets—the one about President Trump removing a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office—did make it into a TIME article that has been corrected with the statement, “An earlier version of the story said that a bust of Martin Luther King had been moved. It is still in the Oval Office.”[15] Furthermore, the tweets and Paul Kruegman’s editorial were widely shared on social media and referenced by numerous pundits on cable news.

 

The very fact that some of the mainstream media’s news coverage of President Trump’s fake news awards is itself distorted and misleading emphasizes the president’s underlying point. Our nation’s guardians of truth—journalists and reporters—have forsaken their commitment to objectively report the facts. Truth has become an acceptable casualty for the “greater good” of protecting and promoting select political agendas. However, truth is not relative; it is objective. It is also an attribute of God. This is why God says in Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord”.

 

If we as a nation wish to be in a right relationship with God, then we must value and defend the truth. Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, you [God] delight in truth”, and Psalm 34:13 says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” Until we demand truth from our respected institutions, we have no right to expect God’s blessing. Rather, Jeremiah 9:1–9 teaches that a culture of lies can invoke God’s judgment upon a nation.

 

We should be deeply troubled that any president has cause to host a fake news award ceremony. It may be tempting to dismiss and to explain away the president’s antics, but doing so only enables our nation to continue to ignore the reality that we have increasingly embraced a culture of lies—a culture that is fostered by distorted and misleading news reports from our nation’s most prominent media outlets. Could it be that our first step toward meaningful change is for us to reject the media that is fostering this deception and find reliable alternatives?

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Timothy Zebell

Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Borcher, Callum. “Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ were a Huge Flop.” The Washington Post, January 17, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/17/trumps-fake-news-awards-are-shaping-up-to-be-a-total-flop/?utm_term=.28be8efb02b6.

2. Farhi, Paul. “Trump Opens All the Envelopes Himself at First ‘Fake News Awards.’” The Washington Post, January 18, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/trump-opens-all-the-envelopes-himself-at-first-fake-news-awards/2018/01/18/d5fcd10c-fbf1-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.cadf40857fef.

3. Kessler, Glenn. “Fact-Checking President Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards.’” The Washington Post, January 17, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/17/fact-checking-president-trumps-fake-news-awards/?utm_term=.ac2801ebca2c

4. “Fake News.” Google Trends, December 18 – January 16, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%201-m&q=fake%20news.

5. “Fake News Awards.” Google Trends, December 18 – January 16. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%201-m&geo=US&q=Fake%20News%20Awards

6. “Fake News Awards.” Google Trends, January 11–18. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=now%207-d&geo=US&q=Fake%20News%20Awards.

7. GOP. Twitter Post. January 17, 2018, 5:35 PM. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://twitter.com/GOP/status/953803002711822337.

8. Trump, Donald. Twitter Post. November 27, 2017, 6:04 AM. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/935147410472480769?lang=en.

9. Noah, Trevor. Twitter Post. January 5, 2018, 9:34 AM. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://twitter.com/TheDailyShow/status/949333179311194112

10. “Why Stephen Colbert Would be Honored to Part of Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards.’” The Huffington Post video, n.d. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-colbert-asks-trump-for-fake-news-award_us_5a4e6558e4b0fabdce1bb2ae

11. Full Frontal. Twitter Post. January 4, 2018, 6:00 AM. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://twitter.com/FullFrontalSamB/status/948917072716881920.

12. Park, Andrea. “Stephen Colbert Posts ‘For Your Consideration’ Ad for Trump’s Fake News Awards.” CBS News, January 4, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stephen-colbert-times-square-billboard-for-your-consideration-ad-trump-fake-news-awards/

13. Horton, Alex. “No Faking It: Colbert Wants One of Trump’s ‘Dishonest’ Media Awards.” The Washington Post, January 4, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/01/04/no-faking-it-colbert-wants-one-of-trumps-dishonest-media-awards/?utm_term=.b08d6637c0b5

14. Borcher, Callum. “Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ were a Huge Flop.” The Washington Post, January 17, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/17/trumps-fake-news-awards-are-shaping-up-to-be-a-total-flop/?utm_term=.28be8efb02b6

15. Miller, Zeke. “Donald Trump Signed Order to Prepare for Repeal of Obamacare.” TIME, January 20, 2017. Last Updated January 21, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://time.com/4642088/trump-inauguration-obamacare-repeal-order/.

 

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