The Washington Post and The Crackdown On Fake News: Recent Controversy Raises Questions Over The Proposed Crackdown On Alleged “Fake News”

220px-Washington_Post_buildingWe have been discussing the crackdown on “fake news,” including my view that this has become the latest rationale for various countries to rollback on free speech, including most recently top lawyers in Italy. Leaders who have long fought to curtail free speech may have found the perfect vehicle to convince citizens to voluntarily surrender their right to free speech, even celebrate its passing. It is all being done in the name of “truth”, which apparently can only be found on the other side of the criminalization of speech. The debacle at the Washington Post over the false Russian hacking of the U.S. electricity grid highlights the problem with how these governments will choose between those publications deemed criminally false and those deemed merely recklessly unproven. No one is suggesting that the Washington Post would be sanctioned for this story, though some see a deeper failure in how the Post handled the controversy. I am actually sympathetic with the error, which can happen with the best of journalists. In today’s fast pace toward publications, errors can occur despite efforts to confirm sources and facts. My interest in how to distinguish between the Posts and other publications or sites. In the last few weeks, the suggestion is that governments should move against publications or sites that they deem peddlers of false news. The incident with the Post raises the question how and when government would use this new power.

The Post sparked a national outcry over its article entitled “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous reported that “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”

That account was eventually challenged by experts. The utility company issued a formal statement an hour and a half after the Post’s publication, stating “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

The Post ran a correction a few hours later stating:

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.

The body of the article was changed to include a statement that “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.”

The error has caused a stir, particularly on conservative sites. Yet, much of the article was true. Such errors can occur even with responsible journalists and bloggers. It was a mistake. However, should the Post be punished under proposed “fake news” laws? If not, would the standard be different for a blog? The lack of any real standard reveals these efforts as a new means toward an old ends: to regulate and control speech.

117 thoughts on “The Washington Post and The Crackdown On Fake News: Recent Controversy Raises Questions Over The Proposed Crackdown On Alleged “Fake News”

      • Switching to fake advertising there’s a report out on Mexican made GMC Cruze mobiles for sale in a NC dealership. And since the rest is stale yesterday news I thought I would interject a comment of why those cars are completely legal.

        1. Cars are rated made in the USA if they have a certain percentage of the manufacturing done int he US with a certain percentage of made in the USA parts. For example. Pinstriping, carburetor adjustment, and installing an occasional air condition sufficed for KIA some years ago.

        2. Mexico gets an extra dividend as does Brazil Made in the US refers to all three countries. Whee made in the USA would mean United States of America, USM means United States of Mexicanos and USB means United States of Brazil. Easy to get around that Made in the US whatever when your dealing with illiterates.

        Like ‘life without parole’ Made in the USA does not mean what it says even when it s fully spelled out and made in US could include a future change from any country that chose to add US

    • Eceryone has a right to their opinion except those who supprt the left. as part of their mindless collective. Is that the last of yesterdays programming from Carville and Soros or is the first of todays? Now if you belonged to a party that supported thinking and reason one would ask how does that current opinion square with the strong anti civil rights stance. Answer? As a good little leftist clone I just repeat what i am ordered to say. Only the ruling class gets to have an opinion. But you make a nice demonstration of subjective mysticism as a losing proposition.

  1. I’m generally asked where I get my news since I haven’t owned a boob tube now in over 20 years nor read a printed newspaper. It’s easier to answer why I don’t look for news in the news media. Fake articles, phony articles and on TV super loud commericial volume boosting versus very little news content are enough of a reason and here’s an example.

    Every five years I run a test. ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC had already failed the test except the one that told me they couldn’t be trusted so I thought better do one on Fox to be ‘fair and balanced.’

    The subject was the Seattle story on raising money to protect criminal aliens. I used those two words on purpose to pour gas on the fire and also to use the proper terminology. Knowing it would inflame the snowflakes I thought it might melt a few of them too.

    I went to the inter Fox, found the article and seventeen jumps in circles going nowhere still had not found more than a two or three thin news less stories.and that in one location. google was much the same by the way. but it did come up with the following.

    The question I had in mind is how much of the Cit of Seattle budget is provided by the federal government. i did not include King County nor any schools from K-12 to Universities. All of which are slicing the federal pie.

    Here’s the answer according to the Seattle Weekly.

    “Trump Likely to Cut Seattle Budget By Tens of Millions of Dollars …www.seattleweekly.com/…/trump-likely-to-cut-seattle-budget-by-tens-of-millions-of-…Nov 10, 2016 – … has promised to eliminate all federal funding for sanctuary cities like our own. … Trump Likely to Cut Seattle Budget By Tens of Millions of Dollars … 13 percent of its budget, or $7 billion, will come from federal grants.”

    Now they had no proof of anything especially second guessing the President Elect a mistake many especially the media has made day in day out since day one.

    But that’s the answer that our illustrious internet was able to provide and it was two months old.

    Fox has a particularly poor site to begin with full of flashy nothing that leads nowhere other than an occasional decent interview.. Round and round with the ‘news’ apparently’ requiring payment to some cable company.

    As for providng news? I would recommend Fox send it’s people to Journalism 101 and the other four send their employees to the unemployment line ands change the marquee to Pravda 1, 2, 3 & 4. .

    I get more information from something posted on this blog and then following it up weeding out the mistakes, the errors, and the air head coments but usually finding a kernel of something. Then I generally skip the snowflakes and concerntrate on the serious intellects.

    in the end I’m usually far more accurately informed than 99.999 percent of the USA.

    Also Reuters, BBC, and a few other foreign NOT including the Guardian, NYTNoid, WapeenPo and other foriegn sources but places where real journalism is practiced. Add to the list Reason which used to be worth reading before the Libertarians divested and then nominated to time, money and effort wasters BUT it did help keep Hillary below 50% in the end in the meaningless popular vote and put her in line for running for Mayor of Podunk NY. Side comment Libertaians once again proved their heads are somewhere but it has nothing to do with political success.

    So twenty years I’ve saved countless other wise wasted hours and I’m going for twenty five.

    So here’s my suggestion. The Mayor of Seattle wants $250,000 to protect illegals. Apparent that is for lawyers. At the price of lawyers in Seattle that will cover about 100 to 200 illegals. For that he’s risking 13% or 7 billion dollars which will fall directly to the citizens of Seattle in increased taxes or decreased services. My recommendation. Start with the Mayors Salary and then go see a psychiatrist.

    Or a dollar for dollar cut in federal spending plus a dollar for dollar fine. What part of the budget. That’s up to the Mayor and which part of Seattle he wants to alien-ate. That will add up to one million dollar tax increase or shortfall in services. That’s a lot of chuckholes. Whose neighborhood is going to suffer. Not Queen Anne Hill but then does it really matter? Got it! minimum wage of $15 with an enhanced tax of $5.00 an hour.

    Either that or The Mayor has his office and staff to McNeil Island . That island retreat has plenty of room and guess what? It’s federally funded. (McNeill Island Federal Penitentiary closed 2011.)

    Unless Obama moves Guantanamo there next week.

    • Two things. The scumbags of the fascist left picking on a five year old show their major racist beliefs. I’m only surprised the four letter words were redacted. But what do you expect from an illiterate generation with no culture?

      Second I’m promoting a word change that fits this situation. Snowfakes! That covers Madison, MTV and the fascist media in general. Whoever sponsors MTV is on my do not patronize list can anyone help me on that?

      What a sick POS!

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