By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
It seems every few hours someone yells, “fake news!” So in an effort to counter so-called fake news, political operatives, associations and a host of others are creating websites that have the look and feel of a legitimate news outlet without disclosing who is actually driving the content or agenda.
Alabama’s Republican Party has stopped just short of producing a full-blown news site, but it is distributing a newsie email called “ALGOP Real News Now,” which is said to be, “Fighting back against the liberal media with real news.”
ALGOP’s idea of real news is to aggregate content that is favorable to President Donald J. Trump. For good measure, they pitch in a state story produced by al.com’s, Leada Gore, about crossover voting. Gore recently penned an article about the transfer of Yellowhammer News’ ownership from Josh Jones to Allison Ross without mentioning that Mrs. Ross is the wife of John Ross, who served as part of the former speaker and convicted felon’s kitchen cabinet and ALGOP executive director under Hubbard. Mr. Ross was a star witness for the prosecution in the Hubbard case because he was an insider on many of Hubbard’s schemes.
A recent AP story reveals how the Republican Governors Association founded a so-called newsgroup under the banner of The Free Telegraph. It offers “real news” that promotes its agenda. With bold headlines like, “Lines Drawn on Gun Rights in Virginia Gubernatorial Race,” and “PA Goes Broke,” RGA is producing content it hopes will help Republican governors while trashing Democrats.
News sites from Washington to Russia flood the internet with content with a point of view, and its done by both Democrats and Republicans.
A few months ago, Gov. Kay Ivey’s “chief” legal counsel, Bryan Taylor, took to social media to warn his Facebook followers about fake news and even offered a guide on how to spot it.
What Taylor and others who decry fake news seldom expose are the use of carefully scripted phrases in publications they might consider real reporting. Frank I. Luntz, a pollster and public opinion guru, helped develop “Republican speaks,” which is a series of poll-tested words that form an alternative language for conservatives. Luntz’s word-smithing came to national attention with Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. Under his playbook, terms like “undocumented workers” become “illegal aliens,” “estate tax” is a “death tax” and never say “government,” instead use “Washington.” Luntz says, “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” and he has a book to help others learn the craft. Under this type of code speech. always add “radical” to “environmentalist.” And always say “Equal Opportunity in Education,” when hoping to replace public schools with state-funded private ones. Luntz doesn’t offer a tutorial in fake words but words with a point of view.
The Alabama Political Reporter, like every other news outlet, is called fake news when the reporting doesn’t fit in with an individual’s preconceived notion of facts.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said. With the rise of internet news like RGA and ALGOP’s news mail-out, people are finding their own facts. The FBI thinks Russian troll farms used Facebook to promote so-called news stories to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. There are some who have alternative facts that Russian meddling never happened.
ALGOP says its Real News Now needs its readers to “Help us push back against the liberal media and share these articles on your social media platforms! Our Republican elected officials are Making America Great Again and you can too by helping to keep the truth front and center.”
Directly under Real News Now is a button you can click to contribute.