Jadzia Samuel urges politicians and the media to tell the truth and move on from fake news
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
We hear people say this over and over again and we have become accustomed to mistrusting online articles which pump the masses with misleading or false information. We know that to find a more reliable source, we should turn to respected newspapers, news channels, or politicians with power and knowledge about our country. Shouldn’t we?
We trust that politicians will speak with facts based on grounded research. They are, after all, the people who have the most access to information and the most influence over the countries which they serve. Or at least that is the theory. Only last week, in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, Donald Trump’s Counsellor, Kellyanne Conway, referenced a ‘Bowling Green Massacre’, and claimed that ‘most people don’t know [about it] because it didn’t get covered.’
This massacre never happened.
It was an entirely fabricated event. Although two Iraqi men from this area were indeed convicted of attempting to send weapons to al-Qaeda, no violence and no ‘massacre’ actually ever took place. Despite Conway’s claim, after having received an incredible amount of backlash, that this was simply an ‘honest mistake’, she had also previously spoken to Cosmopolitan about the ‘Bowling Green massacre [which took] innocent soldiers’ lives away’, and therefore was evidently invested in the creation of this blatant lie. We cannot ignore the fact that one of the most influential women in the American Government has repeatedly portrayed an entirely fictitious event – a lie which has been projected on platforms that are accessible by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Conway’s lies contribute to the fear-mongering attitude in the Western world, designed to rally people in a frenzy of Islamophobia. This perpetuation of lies and vindictive mindset is the very sort of thing which fuels hate crimes, such as the horrific shooting in Quebec Mosque in Canada on January 29th.
It is not only this one-off occasion wherein deliberate fabrications have been broadcasted globally; the President himself can be found guilty of spreading countless lies, including ones regarding climate change. Trump’s infamous denial of global warming as ‘a hoax invented by the Chinese to undermine US economy’, has not only been widely repeated, but has had genuine consequences. In addition to his denial, Trump successfully erased all mention of the global crisis from the White House Website, banned all Environmental Protection Agencies from access to social media, and had Badlands National Park’s twitter account temporarily suspended after some tweets regarding climate change. The National Park, whose account was later restored, then tweeted an apology claiming to ‘regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday’. It is shocking and terrifying to see how Trump’s control of the media appears almost dictatorship-like. He has the power to impose censorship in the media, controlling what ‘truth’ is received by the public, and allowing his lies to dominate. I am sat here asking myself, how is this legal?
When politicians spread such weighty lies with such potential for disastrous consequences, is it time to question the legality of these actions? When they consciously lie about matters of such extreme importance, should there be legal consequences? We cannot allow this misrepresentation of information to be perpetuated without some sort of retaliation. There must come a point at which these lies become too harmful to the public to be allowed to continue. The law must take a stand in order to protect us all; we are all endangered by this formulation of ignorance and deceit.