Spotlight on Fake News

by Phil Erwin

There is a movie entitled Spotlight which I stumbled into this week while channel-surfing.

The cast includes some pretty heavy hitters – Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. Terrific actors all. But this isn’t a blockbuster action flick, nor a grab-the-kleenex chick flick. Not a rom-com either – not a speck of romance or comedy in this script.

This is a “docudrama,” a Hollywood re-enactment of real people and real events that actually matter to the rest of us, and which we might want to understand better than we otherwise could.

The title refers to the investigative reporting team at the Boston Globe that sniffed out and reported on the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Not your average popcorn fare.

As a California boy of non-Catholic roots and a 24×7 job in Silicon Valley, I was only dimly aware of the scandal. It turned out the Church higher-ups were not only cognizant of a massive problem, but were actively covering it up. And not just in Boston. Lots of other cities, too. Even LA, where abused children seem more common than Catholics. Turns out there’s quite a bit of overlap between the two.

This is one of the better docudramas I’ve encountered – a human story, not just a scandal-screed. And the actors are absolutely terrific at making a difficult story real. I’m neither Catholic nor a parent, so I don’t have those particular emotional hooks set; yet I found myself focused on every word, so I could understand the human story about how these reporters uncovered something so dark, so monstrous as to have implications for the religion of a billion people worldwide.

Yeah, I’d say it was an important scandal to pursue.

So the film is worth watching for what it demonstrates about how reporters prod and push and work to put details together to identify and illuminate things that the rest of us need to know, but would never know if it weren’t for reporters. In that respect, it’s like All the President’s Men (Woodward and Bernstein chasing the Watergate scandal) but without the Hollywood retouching, making film glamour out of real-life squalor. Spotlight is honest enough to admit that even the Press was a part of the problem.

What a surprise: The Press isn’t perfect. They’re human. They make mistakes. Sometimes, they even choose to make mistakes.

What Spotlight shows is that even the Boston Globe was complicit, for years, in covering up the scandal!

When President Trump called “Fake News” the “enemy of the people”, he was instantly, universally denounced.

But what Spotlight shows is that the Press doesn’t always act in the public’s best interests.

And what we witnessed this week, with a Buzzfeed News release, was proof positive of Trump’s assertion.

Buzzfeed posted a “report” (the Media used to call them “stories,” but “report” sounds less like fiction) that Donald Trump had ordered his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about… Well, to tell you the truth, it wouldn’t matter what the alleged lie was about. Lying to Congress is a felony. Ordering someone to lie to Congress is a different felony, called “suborning perjury” – definitely an impeachable offense, if it were true.

And that is precisely how all the Fake News channels carried the “bombshell development” all day: “If true, this would be an impeachable offense!” “If it’s true, he’s done!” Over and over. Every channel. Every show. Every single mouthpiece. Even FOX was forced to admit the allegation was serious – although at least they reminded us that this was an unconfirmed allegation.

(Remember: Buzzfeed was the site that published the salacious, never-confirmed Russian “dossier” that triggered Trump-team surveillance and the Special Counsel, but is now recognized as an opposition-research hoax perpetrated by Hillary’s campaign, the DNC, and disgraced FBI bigwigs.)

Spotlight is a brilliant illustration of why we need a Free Press; why a national phalanx of reporters sniffing out the scent of an important story, dragging it out of unwilling witnesses, putting it all together in ways that tell us the real truth about our world, is so important to maintaining our freedoms and improving our society.

But recognize: Anyone beginning a sentence with “If true…” is not delivering “news.” What they’re selling you is: Opinion. Gossip. Speculation. Conjecture. Personal wishes, hopes, dreams.

It is absolutely not “The News.”

Because “If” means I don’t know if it happened! while “News” means It happened!

What we witnessed this past week illustrates why the anti-Trump Fake News (sadly, almost all “news” outlets now) is so utterly damaging to our politics, to our society – to our nation’s future.

These so-called “journalists” were enthusiastically cheering the Buzzfeed story, like a bunch of Cheshire cats with canary feathers dangling from their mouths. In effect, they were gleefully colluding with Democrats hoping to impeach President Trump, thereby negating the valid results of a fair, democratic electionbecause they don’t like who Americans chose!

And now that Mueller’s publicly refuted the substance of the Buzzfeed “report”? You hear any mea culpas from that anti-Trump crowd? Any “So sorry… We were out over our skis” admissions? Anything resembling a retraction?

Didn’t think so.

How can we maintain and protect our democratic society when our Free Press is using false information in a deliberate effort to undo our elections?

How can we improve our society when our attentions are diverted away from real problems (the border), and focused instead on fake problems (the “dossier”)?

There are several things we know for certain about Russian interference in democratic electoral processes: They’ve been doing it for decades; they’re experts at it; they do it all over the world, it was an important tool in the USSR’s Communist toolbox; and the fundamental goal is always: To sow discord, discontent, uncertainty and hatred of the government in the minds of targeted populations.

And what has resulted from the “Special Counsel?” What has come of all the “Mainstream” Media hysterics about Trump, and the Democrat demands for endless “investigations”? What’s the socio-political impact on America of the Never-Trumper antics?

Discord. Discontent. Uncertainty. Hatred of [Trump’s] government.

Russia 4. America, zero.

Donald Trump is no Russian agent, no Russo-Manchurian Candidate – else, the proof would have leaked out from Mueller’s Minions to the Press many, many months ago.

But it’s becoming blatantly obvious that the Fake News is a weapon Russia can successfully wield against America. Remember: The text of that “dossier” originated with Russian intelligence agents!

Trump was right. Again.

The Fake News is an enemy of We, the People.

So be careful whom you trust to bring you the “news.”

It might be, in a very real sense, coming straight from Russia.

Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He would like to support some Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies (and is highly suspicious of Statistics.) That pretty much eliminates supporting most Democrats, and a bunch of Republicans to boot.

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