Pope Francis has taken the stance that ‘spreading disinformation’ is probably ‘the greatest damage that the media can do’ and called it , ‘sinful.’
2016 has been a year for the proliferation of fake news. Since Reagan vetoed the Fairness Doctrine Bill in ’87, echo chambers have proliferated. Flash forward to today, and the fake news has managed to place Donald Trump on the precipice of taking office. (Help us, Electors!)
Fake news is certainly a noxious problem. It’s not only America’s own fake news outlets that influenced the presidential election but at least 200 websites that knowingly or not, spread Russian propaganda intent on harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning. They have terrifyingly succeeded with their goals, with help from the man who (shudder) appears to be about to take office.
In what may cause your own hypocrisy meter to self-destruct, Fox News carried the story about Pope Francis’s stern stance on spreading fake news, where he compared it to coprophagia, the consumption of feces. Yes, you read that correctly.
‘I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into—no offense intended—the sickness of coprophagia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true,’ Pope Francis said in an interview. ‘And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, a lot of damage can be done.’
Aside from ruining the credibility of the presidential election, fake news just prompted a shootout in a DC pizzeria. Michael G Flynn, the retired General Michael T. Flynn’s son, made the now infamous tweets attempting to link Hillary Clinton with a secret pedophilia ring operating out of the restaurant, retweeted over 3 thousand times, and inspiring the shooter. Michael T. Flynn is Trump’s dubious pick for security advisor. His son continues retweeting opinions from Mike Cernovich, alt-right social media personality. See the tweets below:
— Michael G Flynn🇺🇸 (@mflynnJR) December 5, 2016
The hit pieces are coming in. Fake news media will be up all night doing this! https://t.co/MXn7rBN0Kn
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) December 5, 2016
Pope Francis was critical of news outlets that seek out only negative stories and smear people’s reputations, but especially for telling lies.
‘Spreading incorrect information,’ Francis reportedly said, is ‘probably the biggest damage a news organization can cause.’
You’ll excuse us, Pope Francis, if we find the coverage of this by Fox News to be rather darkly humorous. Certainly, it’s not a source known for credibility. That being said, it’s an anxious time for all journalists, when our next President seems intent to weaken the First Amendment protections for reporters. There is hypocrisy there, too, since his followers pride themselves so very much on being fine defenders of the Constitution. Where are they now?
We can all agree that fake news is to be discouraged, and knowingly spreading lies is certainly immoral. However, isn’t it time for everyone who sets themselves loose on the internet to take responsibility for themselves in judging a credible source, from one that the Pope might literally refer to as crapola? A little education on that matter is due from the peanut gallery – maybe even from Fox News.