Dennis Gruending: Defending Against Fake News

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Dennis Gruending: Defending Against Fake News

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Dennis Gruending | There is a lot of fake news spread via social media. Here is some advice about how to defend against it.


Mr. Gruending says: "I trust the reporting and news protocols of our mainstream news outlets. They deal in facts and they do fact checking."

I kept waiting for the punchline that never came.

When it comes to news reporting, whether state media (RT, BBC, CBC,etc), or corporate media, or the rising use of online outlets, the rule of thumb for ALL of them should be VERIFY, rather than "I trust them". The servile stance of Mr Gruending to the pronouncements of major state and corporate media (though restricted, he would have it, to our geopolitical sphere) is not warranted--neither is his apparent dismisal of sources which make known unreported and under-reported stories which he blanket dubs "conspiracy sites".

There is a spread of false and genuine news on both sides of Mr. Gruending's simplistic Manichaen divide of outlets. There is also a considerable span of story credibility within any source when it comes to politically loaded issues.

Looking at two examples Mr. Gruending provides:

1) The Fires in Australia.
 Mr Gruending is entirely correct that the fires are a largely an outcome of climate change. The fires were predicted, for example, in a 2008 Austrailian Government climate change study which was cited in New Scientist. The vast proponderance of science on climate change means only the gullable, and those with a vested interest in fossil fuel profits, continue with climate change denialism. There are obviously plenty of blogs and online sites that continue blatantly absurd climate change denialism--there are also many other sites that provide more detailed evidence of climate change, and the money and politics behind it, than is generally published by the major media.

Although the major corporate media have recently been more accepting of the reality of climate change, this situation was (and still is) not always the case:

"The notion of balanced coverage may make perfect sense when covering a political convention, but in the culture of science, balancing opposing views may be neither fair nor truthful. As such, many experts argue that it is misleading to give scientific mavericks or advocates equal time with established mainstream scientists.[12]

Yet there is evidence that this is exactly what the media is doing. In a survey of 636 articles from four top United States newspapers between 1988 and 2002, two scholars[31] found that most articles gave as much time to the small group of climate change doubters as to the scientific consensus view. Given real consensus among climatologists over global warming, many scientists find the media’s desire to portray the topic as a scientific controversy to be a gross distortion. As Stephen Schneider put it:[25]"

“a mainstream, well-established consensus may be ‘balanced’ against the opposing views of a few extremists, and to the uninformed, each position seems equally credible.”

I won't blather on about the links of corporate media to a wider corporatism and fossil fuels, or the "ratings killing" avoidence of "boring and negative" climate change reporting, so I'll just post one link, you can look up others:

The media are complacent while the world burns

2)The Syrian Duomo chemical attack

Mr. Gruending says:

When the CBC, The Globe and Mail, Maclean's, Huffington Post or (further abroad) The New York Times or the BBC tell us that in Syria, Assad is using poison gas on his own population, I believe them. I am immediately skeptical when acquaintances point me to information they have seen on their social media feeds by sources who are either blatant propagandists or whose existence is shrouded in secrecy.

Now Mr. Gruending would have us look no further than what is published in the "respectable" corporate and state media even though, in any geopolitical block, reporting and commentary on international affairs is block-aligned, often in lockstep, and nearly always propagandistic to some degree.

Mr. Gruending suggests it is mere "conspiracy theory" to suggest a faked chemical attack, despite the evidence-based leaked factual documents and emails published by Wikileaks, and by statements  including senior engineering analyst Ian Henderson, whose report was ordered omitted, and who recently testified before the UN Security Council:

"The document Braha ordered to be removed is an engineering assessment that studied two cylinders found in two separate locations in Douma. The allegation was that these cylinders were dropped out of a Syrian government aircraft and were the source of the chlorine gas. But this engineering assessment points to a different possibility.

The assessment was prepared by Ian Henderson, a longtime OPCW engineer. Henderson’s report concludes, "observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft." If the cylinders were manually placed where they were found, it would point to the theory that the attack was staged by Jaysh al-Islam, the opposition group that the Syrian government was driving out of Douma. But Henderson’s assessment was left out of the final report."....

Unsurprisingly, even Henderson's important UN testimony has not been reported by Gruending's 'trusted" media, including that "newspaper of record", the New York Times-- you know, the fine people who relentlessly pipelined the US state department fiction of Iraq's WMDs.  An awarenesss of recent history is also important, recall Hans Blix being targetted by the CIA.

Relax, Mr.Gruending might say, there is no need to read this story and the links or transcript and video it provides since it must be a shadowy "conspiracy site" and is not on his list of the "few trusted".
Mr. Gruending says he deigns to "follow" and write for Rabble, but obviously doesn't credit fellow Rabble blogger Yves Engler when he strays from the "trusted" herd:

Canada Follows US Lead By Ignoring OPCW Scandal
by Yves Engler Posted on December 24, 2019

Mr. Gruending: "The most important thing is to choose a few trusted news sources for information about what is going on in the world. Watch them with a critical eye, of course, but stay with them."


I'm sure Mr. Gruending is well-intentioned, but I would urge him to look more closely at the not-so-shadowy "trusted" providers of news and the sources of their inherent biases. Many critics of media, including Chomsky, Wolin, etc. have written extensively on this. 

Additionally, You can't look with "a critical eye" on the facts NOT published by the  "few trusted" sources. You can't "read between the lines" if the lines are not even written to begin with.

In short, verify, rather than believe or dismiss based only on some self-limiting and self-confirming assignment of who qualifies as "trusted" media.


contrarianna wrote:

Mr. Gruending says: "I trust the reporting and news protocols of our mainstream news outlets. They deal in facts and they do fact checking."

I kept waiting for the punchline that never came.

Thank you for unpacking this outrageous piece. I am actually astounded that it would be published on rabble but I guess that is the new editorial viewpoint. I thought Judy and others started rabble because the MSM, that this idiot trusts, couldn't be trusted.


Yes thanks contrianna.   I was also flabbergasted it was on rabble.

Edzell Edzell's picture

"In short, verify, rather than believe or dismiss based only on some self-limiting and self-confirming assignment of who qualifies as "trusted" media."

Of course direct verification is to be preferred over deciding which sources to trust, or when to do so.

Unfortunately the only things I can truly verify are things I personally witness or experience. (And even then I may be mistaken owing to misperception or interpretation.) Otherwise all of my information cames to me via hearsay, printed words or electronic media. It's all 'anecdotal' and what I am left with is my own judgement of its reliablity; what fits in with what I think I know and what seems credible and/or probable. Personal verification of 'the news' is an admirable goal but generally impossible. I can only decide for myself when to believe, disbelieve or suspend judgement.