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”

  1. Once you allow the government to decide what is truth, and what you may say, you have thrown away your First Amendment rights.

    Just think how many times our government has insisted on one story, only to be completely disproven.

    Are we really so foolish as to allow them to determine our truth?

    We already have libel and slander laws. Leave it at that. It is our job as human beings to use critical thought on everything we read.

  2. Is this the Perjury By Permission Clapper we all know and love? I believe him in this instance because others with relatively little skin in the game have said the same thing, but it does highlight the problem of every news and government agent saying “Trust Me! or you’re an unpatriotic Commie”.

    So if a proven liar such as Clapper tells us something that we want to hear does that make it true? What about if he tells us something we don’t want to hear>? Does that mean it’s false? That seems to be the standard tribal definition of truth. This is the level where one news outlet is telling the truth but all the rest are fake. Huh, huh…

    The next level up is the, trust but verify definition which now-a-days would be better as, trust but verify . Fine, but not always easy. How do you verify global warming, for instance? 1) Just call it a hoax. Okaaaaaaay. 2) Read something and call it a hoax. Mmmmm. 3 & 4) same as 1 and 2 only this time it’s Just call it true 5) Take five years and become a climatologist and then tell everyone else (ha,ha,ha) – Now that’s Verify (and share), but also much easier said than done, particularly the “share” part..

    Then, closely related but probably more suited to the times, is be skeptical of everything, even your skepticism.

    And finally we reach the mountain top with the guy sitting there on a little mat who says, “My cynicism just can’t keep up with reality.”

    Btw, Pee-Pee Gate is pure fiction. Too many sites from every political stripe give good coverage of how it came about and why it is total crock; Glen Greenwald being probably the best.

    They way to tell if a site leans toward the Fake News side of things, of course, is if the government shuts it down. Chances are pretty good it was Real News. Same thing with that crazy McCarthy list. You definitely want to be ON that list, and as I suggested before, I think Professor Turley should complain loudly that his site is not on it. :-).

  3. Only and idiot would be against the inclusion in academic curriculum of the ability to scrutinize the media in all its forms. The ability, whether learned in school or through trial and error, to decipher the *%it that is printed is necessary. Case in point, the most vile person to come along in decades has just been elected to the Presidency primarily through lies, fake news, and slander. Turley, you are getting more and more shallow with every passing post.

    1. Well isaac. Your participation here is strictly voluntary if you don’t approve of the posts. Or, as my old man would say, “Don’t let the door hit ya’ where the Good Lord split ya’! “

      1. The sign of a loser, when all he can say is ‘If you don’t like it, leave.’ I prefer to stay and voice my opinion, the main theme of Turley’s blog. Perhaps you should leave. It would be more appropriate. I still think Turley doesn’t need more lap poodles.

  4. http://www.businessinsider.com/randy-weber-cnn-reporter-trump-2017-1 ” Republican Rep. Randy Weber of Texas tweeted Thursday morning that a CNN reporter he called “disrespectful” to President-elect Donald Trump during a press conference Wednesday “should be fired.”

    “The CNN reporter who was disruptive to the press briefing, & disrespectful to Trump-should be fired & prohibited from any press briefings,” Weber wrote. ” Fascism at work.

    1. Fascism at work.

      Because canning an unprofessional loudmouth is ‘fascism’.

      1. So it would seem. However, one wonders how Goldie would react were it a reporter being disruptive and disrespectful to Obama. I guess we’ll never know, since all they did was carry his water for 8 years. FFS.

      2. Ok, not ‘fascism’. What, then, should it be called (if anything)? Pleas choose:

        “234 different isms, each representing a philosophical, political or moral doctrine or a belief system. In selecting terms for the list, any word which apply -ism to a personal name has been deliberately avoided, so ‘Marxism’ doesn’t count although it is otherwise an ideal candidate for this list. Isms which do not refer to a specific belief system, such as impressionism (artistic movement) or alcoholism (disease) are excluded. Despite these omissions, enough remain to leave an -ism in every pot, including beliefs about proper government, God, and the nature of existence itself. Of the terms on the list that are of a religious nature, most are Christian, which is not unexpected, the list is open to adding -isms from other world religions. ”

        http://phrontistery.info/isms.html

        I suggest every respondent here print the list, and choose carefully when naming an action or situation. There WILL be a test ..

  5. I think everybody can agree that “fake” news is bad, but how about “incomplete news”- – – news that leaves out truthful information to suit various agendas. For example, reporting the race of criminals, suspected criminals, and even victims of crimes? Read this piece from the LA Times, particularly the bolded part:

    Why does the Homicide Report give the race/ethnicity of victims and suspects?

    The report includes information on race or ethnicity of each homicide victim, as well as the name, gender, and age and the time, place and manner of death. A number of readers have asked why race is include and some have criticized the practice.

    Racial information was once routinely included in news stories about crimes, but in recent decades newspapers and other media outlets stopped mentioning racial or ethnic information because of public criticism. Racial information came to be perceived as irrelevant to the reporting of crimes because it could stigmatize some racial groups.

    The Homicide Report departs from this practice with the goal of presenting the most complete and accurate demographic picture of who is dying, and in some cases, who the suspected killer might be.

    Race and ethnicity, like age, gender and where you live, are stark predictors of homicide risk.

    According to Homicide Report data and reporting since 2007, Latinos, about half Los Angeles County’s population of about 10 million, have accounted for nearly half of all homicide victims.

    Blacks, just 8% of the county’s residents, have accounted for 32% of all homicides. In 2013, blacks were killed at more than seven times the rate of all other racial and ethnic groups combined — a fact that has remained stubbornly high as homicides have plummeted in the county.

    Given the magnitude of difference in homicides along racial and ethnic lines — and the suffering that the killing inflicts on family members, friends and neighborhoods — we opt to present the racial and ethnic contours so conspicuous in the coroner’s data.

    In making racial designations, The Times relies largely on the coroner’s designation. Occasionally, additional reporting from law enforcement or the victim’s family will lead us to make changes.

    http://homicide.latimes.com/about/

    Sooo, if you read a story that a mob of “unruly teenagers” descend upon a mall, and the story omits the fact the “unruly teens” are black teenagers, does that constitute some form of “fake” news? If several more crowds of “unruly teens” descend upon several more malls and wreak havoc, and the fact that they are black is again left out, does that fall into the same pattern of manipulation of the news?

    I ask this because I was really surprised when JT ran the Four Chicago Torture Teens stories a few days ago, many people here seemed really shocked by the savagery of the black teens, as if it were atypical behavior for black teens, or some sort of outlier. When it fact, that kind of depraved savagery is pretty common among black teenagers. Why is it so many people here seem unaware of this? The readership is a pretty well-read crowd. Is it because the stories are being under-reported, and ignored for the sake of some political party’s “Narrative.”
    And is that a form of “fake news.”???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Anytime you fail to report all the facts out of fear of offending some group you are engaging in fake news or more precisely, media manipulation.

  6. In academic settings, reference and instruction librarians have as part of their book instructing students (in a rough and ready way) the weight to give a source. When I was of college age (a generation ago & change), reference and instruction librarians tended to be passive and their skill set was seldom tapped by students. Now, their skill set is ignored because of Google &c. There was a brief moment in between when shifts in institutional and occupational culture collided with technological developments and the reference desk was a locus of assistance and skill development for serious students. The librarians who still have jobs are still available for you to ask.

  7. I think critical thinking skills when examining any data is useful. Learning to spot frauds seems a worthwhile goal. The MSM seems to have no stomach for it. They thrive on the “have you stopped beating your wife” meme and publishing all manner of innuendo. The 19% approval rating and 32% trust ratings speak for themselves.

  8. The Mainstream Media doesn’t care. All they want is something salacious enough to bring in viewers/readers. – It used to be that the media ensured that the information came from a reliable source. Unfortunately, today, they have some to the conclusion that it is perfectly acceptable to run with the story, so long as the add a disclaimer stating that they have not been able to independently verify the story.

  9. It wasn’t the MI6 agent that made the allegation. It was agent 86. Is it fake? Video proves it.

  10. This is fresh hysteria over an old problem; and the solution has always been obvious.

    Don’t trust anyone. Don’t trust any outlet, Left or Right, and instead attempt to absorb the spectrum of views. Pay attention to verified numbers rather than punditry on those numbers.

    That said, it’s really rich that the Steak-Salesman whines about fake news while elevating the former editor of Brietbart, and nominating a national security advisor who, along with his demoted son, promoted fake news aggressively.

    And speaking of fake news, I wonder where SS Trump’s investigative team is, who were finding just amazing things in Hawaii. Someone doth protest too much.

    1. “verified numbers rather than punditry on those numbers.”

      And exactly what is a reliable source?? Government census numbers? Anyone who has ever gone door to door for anything in the past four decades, knows that people either aren’t home or don’t open their door to strangers. Polls? How did they do in predicting 2016 voting behavior? Intelligence reports?? How well did they do in describing Saddam’s WMD??? Government agency reports? How do you think employees rise up the career ladder??

        1. Dave137 – it used to be, Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30. Now we can’t trust anyone. Thank you, everybody.

  11. “Gomez, a Los Angeles Democrat, said students should learn reasoning skills to assess what they read online.”

    I agree 100% that our schools need to teach reasoning skills but not just to assess what they read online. Fake news is not “the direct threat to our democracy”, it’s the lack of critical-thinking skills prevalent within society that gives fake news legs.

  12. The problem is not in the course itself but in how it will be taught. Most kids get their news from Comedy Central, so are you going to show them how to parse satire?

  13. CA has a super majority of progressives in the state legislature. They can pass just about anything they want to. There is no balance here.

    1. Susan, And Cali Dems will super majority bankrupt the Golden State within the next decade.

      1. “Cali Dems will super majority bankrupt the Golden State within the next decade”

        “Venezuela del Norte”?

        1. Besides the near twenty trillion with Obama’s Legacy accounting for a bit less than half and besides Puerto Rico here’s the top nine on the list

          https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings

          1. Connecticut:

          $20.88 billion in total debt.
          $102.84 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $505 in deficit per capita.

          2. Massachusetts:

          $26.73 billion in total debt.
          $190.83 billion in in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $342 in deficit per capita.

          3. New Jersey:

          $41.84 billion in total debt.
          $255.2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $396 in deficit per capita.

          4. Illinois:

          $35.5 billion in total debt.
          $332.54 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $40 in deficit per capita.

          5. Kentucky:

          $8.23 billion in total debt.
          $82.68 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $100 in deficit per capita.

          6. Hawaii:

          $7.78 billion in total debt.
          $39.92 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $83 in deficit per capita.

          7. California:

          $118.7 billion in total debt.
          $785.72 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $250 in surplus per capita.

          8. Maine:

          $1.2 billion in total debt.
          $15.2 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $20 in deficit per capita.

          9. New York:

          $58.32 billion in total debt.
          $349.81 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
          $125 in surplus per capita.

          All expecting the federal (meaning combined USA taxpayers) to bail them out.

          I was surprised not to find Florida on the list but to give you an idea how much federal support already goes to the States. I looked at Seattle, Washington and it’s 8 billion dollars a year. None of the above count for City and County debt however. It just happened to be the first figures not from a known ‘suspect’ source but I won’t vouch for them without vetting mysef

          Mercatus Center: Home
          https://www.mercatus.org/
          The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas …

          They are also home to a massive amount of snowflakes.

  14. Desperate, I skip over many people who comment here. But, I always read your comments. You are a superb addition.

  15. I 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.

    You fancy people with MEd degrees are ‘paragons of knowledge’?

    Any decision to fund education requires an understanding of what the boundary conditions are which differentiate ‘education’ from something else. Looking at the course offerings of our colleges and universities should be enough to teach anyone that those employed in the school racket need to be supervised and audited by normal human beings.

  16. That pic of Gomez couldn’t be more fake.
    Good Lord that’s some bad retouching.

  17. Liberals are making a Trump 2nd term look like a lock w/ their continued assault on free speech. Dems are assailing the Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy Devoss, because she has donated to FIRE, an apolitical, free speech, website. Liberal fascism is rampant.

  18. Oh come on! This has to be a fake article about fake legislation to “spot” fake news.

    These days just pick up The NY Times or WaPo.

    1. Laura Rozen
      ‏@lrozen

      “Pompeo says US intelligence community report on Russian interference in US election as analytical document is sound.” This guy is Trump’s appointment to the CIA. Seems to be a confused administration at best.

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