The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): I decided against filing it. I don’t want to cost taxpayers a bunch of money.
Let me give you a little background.
Last week, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad killed dozens of Syrian rebels with chemical weapons, including women and children. The horrific images of aid workers attempting to wash chemicals from the bodies of lifeless children stunned the world.
Assad’s defense? It’s fake news.
He claimed that the images were staged. That the lifeless bodies were actually child actors. That the mainstream media reporting the murders cannot be trusted.
This is the fallout of the fake news phenomenon, and it’s just the beginning. If reports from The New York Times, The Washington Post or even The Daily Sentinel are contrived, then what’s real? Only what the government tells us? No thanks.
Assaults on a free press are the first play in any despotic regime’s playbook.
The “fake news” allegation against legitimate news organizations is now in Assad’s playbook, but it will also be used by anyone wishing to cast into doubt unflattering facts presented by an independent third party. Soon, we may not be able to discern real information from fiction. Assad, for one, is hoping so.
It was with this dark future in mind that I responded to a charge that The Sentinel peddles fake news. From my vantage, it was defamation for which there is a viable legal remedy.
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