California Legislators Push For Course On Teaching High School Teachers How To Spot Fake News

894597_490371537684852_1755238079_oI have long been a critic of politician interfering with curricular issues in our schools. Most of us do not look to politicians as paragons of knowledge. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez personifies the perils of politicians dictating course choices. Gomez is pushing for a course on to teach students who to avoid fake news. It is part of a new trend around the world to rally people against the scourge of “fake news” — a trend that is already been used as a rationale for censorship and the criminalization of speech. Fake news is now the rallying cry for people who disagree with coverage and is used as a way to avoid answering questions.  What one person consider fake news and other considers real news can be highly subjective.  The most recent controversy reveals the difficult lines to draw.  President-elect Donald Trump made headlines yesterday by denounced CNN as “fake news” and refusing to take a question from its reporter.  Yet, the report was “news” that was reported by most major outlets.  I agree with the Trump staff about the need for BuzzFeed to have looked more closely at specific allegations and I do find the contractions raised by the Trump staff to be very problematic.  Indeed, James Clapper appears to have supported Trump in his outrage over the leaks and further distanced the U.S. intelligence community from the merits of the allegations. [Here is  Clapper’s statement]  Yet, the legitimacy of these stories comes down to the details published in the stories.  A former MI6 agent made the allegation and those allegations were forwarded to the FBI by a U.S. Senator.  That is news.  The specific “dirt” alleged to be in the possession of the Russians is a far more difficult question for editors and most declined to run those details while reporting the lack of independent confirmation.


As I have previously discussed, the problem is that someone has to decide what is false or what is inspired for foreign agencies to cause mischief. For example, Hillary Clinton denounced Wikileaks as false but never cited as single false email to prove her claim. Likewise, acting DNC head Donna Brazile repeatedly made the same allegations when emails showed that she unethically leaked questions to be asked at a CNN townhall to the Clinton campaign. Brazile told the media that she could prove that emails were tampered with but never supplied the evidence. Wikileaks infuriated the establishment in Washington. The response has been blind rage from people in Washington who have thrived on controlling information and shaping the news.

bill-dodd-headshotIn addition to Gomez’ bill, state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, has proposed legislation to require the state education board to start a “media literacy” curriculum.

Gomez insists fake news poses “a direct threat to our democracy.” What is a threat is the effort of people like Gomez to create a new mythology that we are suddenly faced with the threat of fake news and that we need to take steps to protect our very democracy from its existential threat. The first step is to educate children to recognize the peril of “fake news.” Of course, people can judge for themselves the veracity or truthfulness of news. Millennials are particularly cognizant of fake sites and pitches as a generation that grew up on the Internet. This is a colossal waste of money and, worse yet, an effort to create a foundation for separating protected speech from unprotected speech that we have seen in other countries.

What do you think?

124 thoughts on “California Legislators Push For Course On Teaching High School Teachers How To Spot Fake News

    • My favorite is how Obama has mocked and belittled Fox News all these years and not much uproar from others in MSM. They let Obama propagate his propaganda for all these years and continuing right till the end. Good for Trump calling them all out.

      • I’ll repeat a rather democratic suggestion concerning press conferences.

        First choice ijournalists one from each State concentrating on the smaller communities from print or broadcast media seated in the front rows and call on them for questions. Behind them The second section is much the same thing but from the larger cities. That takes care of 100 seats.

        The back rows for the national media who get to ask questons if there is time available. I’m much more interested in what Mr. and Mrs. Deplorable Flyover has on their mind than listening to the same boring politial crap applied to the same boring nonesense week in and week out.

        If the national media is not the least bit stupid they will hire those brought in from life beiyond the suburbs. To that I would include reproters for miltiary.com and Stars&Stripes. I’m sure other similar types exist. The one’s I mentioned are just a starting point.

        Second I would ban anyone who asks a question already asked and answered unless it’s substantially different for one reason.

        Third shouting, screaming, and other uncivilized behaviour etc. banned for a month. Second time banned for the length of the administration and third time the whole publication or TV whatever banned. Free Press yes.

        Paid for Propagandandists no.

        Just like the Congressionals treat them the courrent batch as rejectables.

        • Excellent ideas. Will be interesting to see what Trump does to shake up White House press briefings. The press has suddenly woken up and decided to do its job now that their beloved Obama is moving out. The sycophancy of the press during the Obama admin has been nauseating.

    • Whereas Fox thrives by slavishly toeing the Trump line, and being an uncritical purveyor of whatever opinions Kelly Anne caring to throw out.

      “It’s all a political witchhunt by the disappointed and delusional left.”
      [Oops]”But there is no proof.”

      [Oops]”But there is no smoking gun.”

      No one at Fox even once has challenged her — “what about your claim last week that [whatever]?”

      • Oops. I now realize I am not sure that Kelly Anne made all of these statements (seratim) on Fox. It would the be logical place (IMO), but (feeble) memory is not authority for that part of this post. And, of course, each was not an exact quote, but I believe a fair summary of the gist of the defense she made each time.

  1. California Legislators Push For Course On Teaching High School Teachers How To Spot Fake News

    How about a course teaching people how to spot criminals posing as politicians?

  2. I see no harm in a high school class that helps students learn how to parse news for truth. I would rather have an educated populace discern truth than have the government assume the role of truth-determiner for my supposed protection, or empower or intimidate social media companies from assuming that role.

  3. Odd. My post here, supporting in reasonably moderate language the need for helping all Americans to distinguish fact from fiction, has disappeared. Why?

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