Red Alert!

Red is a scary color that suggests the Red Scare, red alerts, and red herrings. Senator Joseph McCarthy used Red Scare propaganda to attack communism, socialism and radical leftism. Red alerts are deployed by law enforcement as the most dangerous warning of all. And red herrings? Well, you should know what they are, especially if you’ve read mystery novels. They’re false facts cleverly designed to throw you off track, so you never learn who the true perpetrator is until you reach the very end of the story.

These days we know the identity of the true perpetrator and his team who are highly adept at tossing red herrings. Red herrings are flourishing everywhere, because the true perpetrator is highly skilled at ranting like a bully, exploding in anger, and hurling barbs at anyone who is not part of his team. The perp’s childish behavior stirs-up so much distraction that it is preposterous to believe that he has a grand plan. But don’t let the crazy-making antics fool you. The perp does have an agenda.

Look at what is happening in our nation. Witness the slow erosion of Wall Street reforms, which provided people consumer protection after the financial collapse of 2008. The perp is making it hard for low-income Americans to be granted a mortgage and easy for Wall Street bandits to prey on people’s savings and retirement plans. Eighteen million Americans stand to lose the healthcare that is provided by the Affordable Care Act. The perp pontificated that he would help working-class people get ahead, but he has surrounded himself with a brigade of filthy rich businesspeople who made their money on the backs of the people. And we are only into the first chapter of the mystery novel.

Never forget that good strategic thinkers can set up a diabolical plot that makes their enemies look like fools. Clever strategy has destroyed individuals, whole industries and has made cities, towns and nations disappear like lost civilizations. Make no mistake, Fake News is a brilliant, but evil, strategy concocted to undermine the power of a free press, because only a press that is free can speak the truth. Someone architected the Fake News phenomenon and I’m willing to bet that the perp might have a hand in it. 

 

If people understand how Fake News works, they can make informed decisions about our leadership, regardless if they are elected officials. There are three categories of Fake News: Advertising, Punk and Political. Here are concrete examples:

Advertising Fake News is easy to spot. The New York Times “defined Fake News on the Internet as fictitious articles deliberately fabricated to deceive readers, generally with the goal of profiting through clickbait.” Many of these fake stories are generated by online advertising companies. These stories are clustered in the columns running from top to bottom, or along the footer of your screen. Advertising Fake News stories serve up sensational headlines about celebrities or freakish people: The Real Reason why Angelina Jolie Drinks Blood or Mother of Chinese Orphan Gives Birth to Rare Dog. The moment you click on a Fake News story, your personal data is captured so advertising algorithms can sell things to you.

 

Punk Fake News is about making moneyHot Global News looks like a real news website but is made up hoax stories written by two Canadian boys. Headlines abound: Obama wears a ‘Fuck Trump’ T-shirt to White House Barbecue or Justin Trudeau Bans Trump from entering Canada. These boys push out their preposterous news to social media; traffic surging to their news site results in a flood of ads, and that brings in huge revenue.  By the way, the site Hot Global News was recently renamed to The Avocado News. These boys are young entrepreneurs who’ve found a way to make money by exploiting inherent flaws in the Internet. As ridiculous as these online media outlets are, some people believe their news.  And here is when that gets dangerous. The two boys in Canada are not alone in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Fake news during the 2016 Presidential election was generated by legions of adolescents in Macedonia who cashed-in on Trump’s rise to power and were just looking to make money from ads.

 

New York Magazine noted that entrepreneurial punks were born and bred in America too. “Locals, mostly teenagers and college students, have “launched at least 140 US politics websites” with “American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com.”

 

Making the leap from entrepreneurial punks making money by exploiting the internet to political strategists leaking, planting, concocting, fabricating and distorting the truth for their own political gain is a shot that can be heard around the world and Americans need to be on red alert.

 

Political Fake News

Pinpointing when the Political Fake News Phenomenon began is tricky. Early on during the 2016 election, YouTube Videos featured #CrookedHillary lookalikes wearing dominatrix garb, flogging Bill for his transgressions. Myconservative.com claimed a rivalry existed between Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. In Mrs. Obama’s photo, she wore no makeup, her hair was askew and her skin bore the trace of perspiration; it was as if she was jogging and snapped from a telescopic lens. Mrs. Trump was snapped under perfect light with fresh makeup, glossy hair and a stunning, stylized wardrobe. The Fake News story suggested Mrs. Obama was a nappy-haired little black girl who had no business being first lady, while Mrs. Trump would restore glamour to the White House.

 

It’s not clear who created the #CrookedHillary YouTube video and the thousands like them. MrConservative.com has since removed the Fake News story discrediting Mrs.Obama. It is true that the thousands of entrepreneurial punks started their web businesses by copying stories from conservative American news sites like Breitbart and MrConservative.com. Somehow Russia’s sophisticated network of Desinformatsia invaded our media and created a new red zone. Desinformatsia (dezinformatsiya) or Disinformation “is intentionally false or misleading information that is spread in a calculated way to deceive target audiences.” Russian-architected Desinformatsia amplified political Fake News with an army of botnets, human trolls, social media accounts and shadow websites. Even using sophisticated search engine DomaineTools have not been able to identify the owners of the many political shadow websites. 

 

Who paid for the amplification of Fake News? Human trolls, writers, video makers, photographers, photo curators, web editors, and web developers don’t work for free, even if they’re Russian. Ads and political campaigns are also not free. It costs big money to deploy a propaganda machine as sophisticated as the full-out, war-time military operation that is being called Fake News.

 

The Washington Post noted that the onslaught of Fake News during the 2016 Presidential election “got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

 

Despite the avalanche of so-called Fake News, we’ve all set news alerts on our cell phones so we can quickly learn of the latest blow that the perp has inflicted on America and the free world. Red herrings are infiltrating everything we see, hear and read. The perp has framed the mystery to make every nation in the world “bad,” and has led us to believe that all news is fake, except for his version of the facts, which contain unpardonable errors, grievous omissions and downright lies. The perp asserts that any news that is not favorable to him is Fake News! What is really scary, is how little we know to sift through the red herrings to learn the perp’s real motives. Why would an American President discredit our free press: CNN, The New York Times and The New Yorker by categorizing them as Fake News? Why would the leader of the free world ignore and dismiss the Russian invasion of our own nation’s news media? Only the true perpetrator of a major crime would  use the rhetoric of Desinformatsia  to assert that all news, except his news, is Fake News. In the new world order, all the world is his stage.  We know for sure who the perpetrator is; it’s just a matter of time before we catch him red-handed.

 

EDITORS’ NOTE: Word of Warning to the Free Press: Be hypervigilant about getting your facts validated, corroborated, checked, and checked again. Whatever methods you used to check sources and facts in the past need to be made even more secure and certain. The perp is out to get you and will deliberately toss you bait to entrap you.

Fact-checking organizations:

FactCheck.org, a nonprofit organization and a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania won a 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

"The Fact Checker" is a project by The Washington Post to analyze political claims. Their colleagues and competitors at FactCheck.org recommended The Fact Checker as a resource to use before assuming a story is factual.

PolitiFact.com run by the Tampa Bay Times, received a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its fact-checking efforts the previous year.

Snopes.com, privately run by Barbara and David Mikkelson, was given "high praise" by FactCheck.org, another fact-checking website; in addition, Network World gave Snopes.com a grade of "A" in a meta-analysis of fact-checking websites.

TruthOrFiction.com was founded by Rich Buhler, a journalist, speaker, and author who was also known as the "Father of Modern Christian Talk Radio" at KBRT.

Patricia Vaccarino has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, speeches, Web content, marketing collateral, and six books. She is the author of American Spin http://tinyurl.com/n66a3l9 . Spin is everywhere and is a central fact of 21st century life. We all know “Spin” is a special slant, point of view, emphasis, or interpretation presented for the purpose of influencing people. But do you know it when you see it?

 

Here is a series of four recent articles that cover this topic: 

 

Feeding the Beast 

Booty Pop 

Trolls, Flamers and Bullies 

Killer Koan: How to Spot Fake News 

 

 

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Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino has over 30 years' expertise working with a wide range of national and international clients, in all areas of public relations: managing worldwide campaigns for global companies and developing strategy for small companies, startup ventures, and individuals.


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