So very many well intentioned people want to embrace our mainstream media as beacons of truth whose journalists bastions of integrity. These people watch the nightly news and assume the stories proclaimed have been researched well with all sources verified. So here, I have posted some of the most notable “fake news’” scandals that have been uncovered from our trusted news sources, not just in the past year, but spanning back a few decades. Come to your own conclusions and please feel free to research each one on your own. Here they are in no particular order:
- Newsweek’s Flushing the Koran Story: In 2005 Newsweek issued a report asserting that United States prison guards or interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had deliberately damaged a copy of the Quran in order to torment the prison’s Muslim captives. On May 10 and continuing the following week, many violent anti-American protests took place, and in some areas these turned into deadly riots. In Afghanistan, demonstrations that began in the eastern provinces and spread to Kabul were reported to have caused at least seventeen deaths. The UN, as a precautionary measure, withdrew all its foreign staff from Jalalabad, where two of its guest houses were attacked, government buildings and shops were targeted, and the offices of two international aid groups were destroyed. Demonstrations also took place in Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia, leading to the death of at least 15 people. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, “The report had real consequences, people have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged.” In the May 23 issue, editor Mark Whitaker admitted that its sourcing was suspect and stated, “We regret that we got any part of our story wrong and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.” On June 3, 2005, a U.S. military investigation by the base commander, Brigadier General Jay Hood, reported four (possibly five) incidents of “mishandling” of the Quran by U.S. personnel at Guantánamo Bay. Hood said his investigation “revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Quran dating back almost two and a half years.” The report laid out the circumstances of these incidents and disciplinary actions taken. It also stressed that such mishandling was rare, and that guards were usually respectful of the Quran, following strict regulations the military laid down for handling the Quran. The Hood report also listed 15 reported incidents of detainees mishandling their own copies of the Quran, including complaints made by other detainees. One of these cases involved a prisoner “attempting to flush a Quran down the toilet and urinating on the Quran.” The statement did not provide any explanation about why the detainees might have abused their own holy books.
- CBS “Rathergate”:The Killian documents controversy involved six purported documents critical of President George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard in 1972–73. Four of these documents were presented as authentic in a 60 Minutes II broadcast aired by CBS on September 8, 2004, less than two months before the 04′ Presidential election, but it was later found that CBS had failed to authenticate the documents.Subsequently, several typewriter and typographyy experts concluded the documents were blatant forgeries. The purveyor of the documents, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, claimed to have burned the originals after faxing copies to CBS. CBS News producer Mary Mapes obtained the copied documents from Burkett, a former officer in the Texas Army National Guard, while pursuing a story about the George W. Bush military service controversy. The papers, purportedly made by Bush’s commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, included criticisms of Bush’s service in the Guard during the 1970s. In the 60 Minutes segment, Dan Rather stated: “We are told [the documents] were taken from Lieutenant Colonel Killian’s personal files” and incorrectly asserted that “the material” had been authenticated by experts retained by CBS. CBS fired producer Mary Mapes, several senior news executives were asked to resign, and CBS apologized to viewers.
- NBC and CNN George Zimmerman Trayvon Martin 911 tape debacle: Here’s the transcript of the audio NBC played:
– Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
-Here’s the actual transcript:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.NBC News reportedly fired the producer who was involved in the production of the misleading segment.
- NBC’s Phony Exploding GM Truck: Dateline’s report featured 14 min. of balanced debate, capped by 57 seconds of crash footage that explosively showed how the gas tanks of certain old GM trucks could catch fire in a sideways collision. Following a tip, GM hired detectives, searched 22 junkyards for 18 hours, and found evidence to debunk almost every aspect of the crash sequence. In a devastating press conference, GM showed that the conflagration was rigged, its causes misattributed, its severity overstated, and other facts distorted. Two crucial errors: NBC said the truck’s gas tank had ruptured, yet an X ray showed it hadn’t; NBC consultants set off explosive miniature rockets beneath the truck split seconds before the crash — yet no one told the viewers.
- Stephen Glass: The enduring icon of fake news is Stephen Glass, whose fall from grace was chronicled in a major motion picture, Shattered Glass. The truth caught up with him in 1998, when it was discovered a great deal of the content he produced for The New Republic and other publications was wholly or partially falsified. In recent times, Glass has revealed that he repaid The New Republic, Rolling Stone, and Policy Review at least $200,000 for over forty fabricated stories.
- The adventures of Brian Williams: Brian Williams’ anchorman career at NBC News came to an end in 2015 after he was accused of lying about taking enemy fire while helicoptering into Iraq in 2003. The accusation came from soldiers who were aboard the helicopter. Williams told the story repeatedly, over a span of years, before he was called out. NBC executives recalled having a great deal of difficulty getting Williams to admit he lied, and offer an unqualified apology. Amazingly, Williams still has a career in broadcast journalism.
- Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, CBS: Operation Mockingbird: Operation Mockingbird was allegedly a large-scale program of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that, beginning in the early 1950s, attempted to manipulate news media for propaganda purposes, and funded student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations.. According to writer Deborah Davis, Mockingbird recruited leading American journalists into a propaganda network and oversaw the operations of front groups. CIA support of front groups was exposed after a 1967 Ramparts magazine article revealed that the National Student Organization received funding from the CIA. Congressional investigations and reports in the 1970s also revealed Agency connections with journalists and civic groups. Davis writes that Mockingbird was a response to the creation of a Communist front organization, the International Organization of Journalists which “received money from Moscow and controlled reporters on every major newspaper in Europe, disseminating stories that promoted the Communist cause.”However, none of these reports mention an Operation Mockingbird controlling or supporting these activities. Interestingly, a Project Mockingbird is mentioned in the CIA Family Jewels report, compiled in the mid-70s. According to the declassified version of the report released in 2007, Project Mockingbird involved wire-tapping of two American journalists for several months in the early 1960s.
- CBS 60 Minutes Lara Logan Reports Fake News Story About Benghazi, Leading to Her Suspension: In 2013, CBS 60 Minutes aired an “eyewitness” report from a security contractor who turned out not to have been present for the events he claims to have witnessed. In an investigation that was in the works for a year, Logan trotted out one “Morgan Jones,” a pseudonym for Dylan Davies, a security contractor who “60 Minutes” said was on the ground for the events of the Benghazi attacks, which claimed the lives for four U.S. personnel. Davies talked about the poor U.S. preparations, the chaos of the night and so on. As it later turned out, Davies wasn’t even around; he’d stayed at his villa. The account that he gave to CBS News differed from what he’d told the FBI. His version of events, such as it was, stemmed from a book that he’d written for a publishing house that’s part of the CBS corporation, a little detail that 60 Minutes had left out of its broadcast.
- The Associated Press, Boston Globe, CNN, Fox News: FBI criticized the media for false reports regarding the Boston Marathon Bombers. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013, with the perpetrators still at large, several news sources falsely reported that an arrest had been made. The FBI released a statement scolding the media for its inaccurate and premature reporting on a sensitive terrorism investigation still in progress.
- The Daily Mirror’s Piers Morgan Fired From UK Newspaper for Hoaxing Photos of Iraqi Prisoner Abuse: Before he got his cable television show on CNN, Piers Morgan was the editor of The Daily Mirror, one of the UK’s biggest newspapers, which in 2004, published photos of Iraqi prisoners of war being abused by British Army soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.When they turned out to be fake news, Piers Morgan was sacked from the publication, not for his editorial slip, but for refusing to apologize for it. BBC’s Nicholas Witchell said it appeared Piers Morgan remained unrepentant right to the end. “According to one report Mr Morgan refused the demand to apologise, was sacked and immediately escorted from the building,” he said.
In conclusion, you are welcome to laud these news sources as reliable, but please forgive those of us who aren’t convinced.