We used to play this game

Where we’d form a line and the person at the beginning would be told about an event, and then would whisper the details to the next person, and so on down the line until the last person repeated the story The only rule was, you had to try to get it right. Nonetheless, the person at the end of the line almost always got it wrong.

When I wrote yesterday’s blog about the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution being based on a fabricated story, I wan’t thinking of this game. I was thinking of something that began as a lie. That’s one thing. But when a story goes wrong after it goes through dozens of reports and sources, that’s quite another.

We keep paraphrasing the paraphrases we hear until the end result is fake news even though that wasn’t the intention. Granted, their are networks and reporters who put their own particular spin on stories so that in the end it’s hard to tell how much is opinion and how much is fact.

We all have our bully pulpets, I guess. Even major media outlets are scattering he comments of people on twitter througout their stories as though those knee-jerk opinions can really make a story more truthful and unbiased. These unfounded opinions can only muddy the waters when those cited have no dog in the hunt.

The purpose of the original game as to show how rumors distort the truth. That’s not the purpose of journalism, though too many reporters and networks think their spin is more important than the facts. Reporting is often a bridge over troubled waters–or perhaps muddy waters.

As always, checking multiple news venues is likely to help us find the truth.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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This novel is a satire about the news business.