While the reality and seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to question, the much bigger and mind-infesting pandemic of fake news is overlooked. In the latest revelation of fake news, the popular leftist paper USA Today has removed 23 stories from its website because they were found not credible.
On Thursday (June 16, 2022), USA Today reported on retracting 23 of its stories from its website and other platforms, stating that the retracted stories did not meet their editorial standards. The paper wrote:
The audit revealed that some individuals quoted were not affiliated with the organizations claimed and appeared to be fabricated.
The retracted stories are all the work of Gabriela Miranda, the paper’s breaking news reporter, who has now resigned from her reporting job at USA Today. On its website, the paper published the list of titles of the now-retracted stories along with their links. The topics of the retracted stories vary from Russia-Ukraine war to claims about anti-vaxxers, and from abortion ban in Texas to female athletes in Tokyo Olympics.
Daily Mail reported on the retraction of stories by USA Today and included some details of Miranda’s journalism career. As the story goes, that she has deleted her social media profiles since the fake news scandal exposed her lies masked as journalism.
So what does it mean for USA Today saying that an “external correction request” led to the audit that caught Miranda’s fabrications in the stories now retracted? In plain terms, it means confessing that they don’t have an editorial team that is competent enough or cares about fact-checking stories before they go into print and/or on the web.
Now is this any surprise at all? Hardly! The so-called professional journalism in and out of America has been stained with fake news for not decades but arguably centuries. Those who have seen the movie Shattered Glass are familiar with the story of Stephen Glass, a young journalist who, in the late ’90s, fakes many stories for the liberal political magazine The New Republic. Like Gabriela Miranda, Glass was finally fact-checked by an external source (Forbes in his case), fired from his job, and all his fake stories were retracted.
While the big spike in the fake news pandemic was spotted in the anti-Trump media during the four years of Trump presidency, the practice of fabricating stories and spicing up details of incidents to serve a corporate/political agenda goes way back in the past. In the late 19th Century, Oscar Wilde visited America and during his year-long stay in the country, he was not happy with the way he was mistreated by the American press. As detailed in David M. Friedman’s book Wilde in America, the press would make up quotes and attribute those to Wilde, only to be denied by the famous playwright. This was in addition of some papers faking stories of outlandish incidents to get attention.
Today the fake news pandemic is rampant and is predominantly on the left side of the political divide. Thanks to independent fact-checkers and the internet, it’s getting more difficult for the fake news business to get away with the lies.