You know that old adage that a lie can get halfway around the world by the time truth gets its pants on. It should not be the job of so-called journalists to spread those lies.
A recent story in the Washington Post shows, so much of what passes for news these days is in fact Fake News, spun out of the thinnest tissue of “sources,” if we can even call them that.
The awful piece in question, by journalist Brian Fung was titled, “Verizon denies allegations that it’s degrading mobile data service for Hurricane Florence victims.”
And who made those allegations? We don’t know. Not because the reporter talked with a source that he then granted anonymity, but because the reporter doesn’t know who made the allegation either.
The person was an anonymous user in a reddit forum. In other words, a random, anonymous commenter on the Internet claiming to be in North Carolina after the hurricane blew through alleged that a) he or she wasn’t able to check Facebook or email and b) he or she contacted Verizon and was told that if he or she upgrades to a better plan he or she would be able to get service.
Why was the Washington Post giving so much attention to an anonymous accusation of a person that it hadn’t even talked to? Because, and I’m quoting, “The report was soon picked up and amplified by popular websites such as BoingBoing.”
Boing Boing? Really?
Is Jeff Bezos’s newspaper so desperate for clicks that it’s now cool to boost potentially libelous anonymous comments of an Internet user whose veracity the paper hasn’t even tried to verify because a website out of clickbait central casting got there first?
That was supposed to be a rhetorical question but the answer is, sadly yes.
Don’t take my word for it, just click on this link and marvel that the newspaper which once brought us Watergate would stoop to this level.