TLC Columnist Penelope Young-Andrade, LCSW, sent a letter to a couple of members of her family after the US election and has shared it with us. If you don’t know about the Snopes site she is talking about do yourself a favor and take a look. We get a lot of emails based on one of the numerous “fake news” site that have received a lot of press lately.
I just heard a report on NPR that featured a whole industry in Macedonia that hired young English-speaking students who knew computers. They could take a couple of different stories and rewrite them dozens of different ways to get hits online. Facts didn’t matter. What they discovered was everything bad about Hilary Clinton and anything about Donald Trump attracted readers and made them money.
When you see something questionable that you want to verify, it’s a good place to look. Here is Penelope’s personal experience of it.
—Steve Hays, publisher
A Letter from Penelope Young-Andrade
December 01, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving! Arturo and I hope you and your families are well. We send love and good wishes. We are preparing to spend Thanksgiving at our cabin in Kernville (near the Golden Trout Wilderness!) I am writing today to respond to the email you sent about the cost of illegal immigration. Unfortunately, much of what is reported in that email it is not factual, starting with that the facts in it were first published in the LA Times. My source for this disputation of those facts is Snopes.
I don’t know if either of you would agree that Snopes (independent fact checkers of urban legends) is a source you could trust, but if you look through each item, you will soon see that Snopes has very carefully and specifically separated the lies, distortions, and partial truths, from the occasional kernels of truth in the email you sent. Here is the link: http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/taxes.asp.
The worst part of this election for me is that those of us on different ends of the political spectrum no longer share a base of factual reality. We live in different universes. How can we have productive discussions about how to solve the major problems our country faces when we don’t agree on the facts about immigration, health care, climate change?
What we have instead is a blurring of entertainment and serious reporting leading to a barrage of shocking reports. When TV, radio, and social media hosts’ intentions are primarily to entertain—rather than be purveyors of truth—they continually foment upset. While this is good for getting more eyeballs, ears, and market share, it is not good for our country. I’m imagining that we would have much more fruitful conversations about what we need to do next as a country if we started with an agreement about what the truth of the situation is. (One sign of hope for me is that Facebook and other social media sites are beginning to crack down on fake news masquerading as real news.)
Sigh. I am hoping that someone in our ingenious country will soon come up with a clearing house of facts that we can all, right and left, agree upon! A Google search reveals 5 sites considered are best for fact checking: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/true-5-factchecking-websites/ (FYI Snopes is one of them!) But I wonder if either of you would trust any of those 5 sites? If not I wonder what kind of credentials you would need to trust a source’s reporting? I’m genuinely interested.
One thing I know for sure, our country is too great, too good, and too important to the world to not be able to solve this dilemma of finding common ground about facts. I don’t know how this will happen, but I know it will.
If I could see you in person now, I would give you each a hug and gratefully receive one back from you.