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Hilbert Morales

Steven Erlanger’s article entitled “AUTOCRATS ECHO CRY OF FAKE NEWS’” (New York Times, Large Print Weekly, 12.25.17, page 3) presents the world-wide impact of President Trump’s attacks on The Press’.

Until the 2016 presidential campaign, the general public did not question the truthfulness or veracity of information reported by The Mainstream Media’. An empirical assumption is that if democratic governance is to succeed, a requisite is having an educated and informed citizenry. “FAKE NEWS” has been frequently used by President Trump to discredit information and facts presented by mainstream media (defined as national newspapers; magazines, radio and TV).

Today many ordinary citizens do not know whether information is truthful and factual because of the extreme amount of propaganda (also called spinmeister tactics’) prepared and then disseminated very quickly using social service networks (e.g., Twitter). Many social service networks do not practice high standards of professional journalism. The consequence is that the general public becomes confused and misinformed. It is this featured outcome which is being used not only by President Trump, but also by other autocrats and dictators.

“An example: President Rodrigo Duterte has used similar media attacks directed toward The Press of the Philippines. Some say the use of Fake News has allowed President Duterte to ignore established democratic norms in the Philippines. “Fake News” is routinely invoked to undermine opponents; rally their political base; and try to discredit Mainstream Media which has aggressively investigated their presidencies (and administrations).”

“Other examples are: President Nicolas Maduro who is rolling back democracy in Venezuela; who blamed global media for lots of false versions, lots of lies, saying “this is what we call fake news today.”

“Additional examples have happened in Syria (regarding prison deaths), Myanmar (regarding genocide of Rohingya Muslim minority) and the Russian Foreign Minister “uses a big red stamp, “FAKE NEWS” on its website to label news stories it dislikes.”

“Around the world, authoritarians, populists, oligarchs and other political leaders have seized on the phrase “FAKE NEWS” …and the legitimacy conferred upon it by an American President as a tool for attacking their critics and, IN SOME CASES, DELIBERATELY UNDERMINING THE INSTITUTIONS OF DEMOCRACY.”

“Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist, De La Salle University, Manila, and author of a book on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, said that American soft power, long rooted in advocacy of Democracy, was in a total state of collapse,” allowing strongmen leaders like Mr. Duterte leeway to ignore democratic norms. WITH TRUMP IN POWER, NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS, only about FAKE NEWS” and that is great for Duterte.”

“FAKE NEWS” has been around since the 1890’s according to Merriam Webster (Dictionary). Mr. Trump is most responsible for making (FAKE NEWS) this year’s “WORD OF THE YEAR (2017).” Its use had risen 365% since 2016.

“FAKE NEWS” is a real problem. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia used FAKE NEWS reports as part of an effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Social media (networks) with its huge reach and its vulnerabilities to manipulation, has helped to UNDERMINE TRUST IN TRADITIONAL JOURNALISM.”

“Trump has succeeded in building an alternative reality separate from the mainstream media’s efforts at democratic, rational politics,” said John Lloyd, senior research fellow, Reuter’s Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford. “Of course, journalists make mistakes, but those errors are amplified by the charge of FAKE NEWS,’…THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS PROTRAYED AS THE TOOL OF AN ARROGANT, OUT-OF-TOUCH ELITEM, who use that tool to keep down the marginalized (communities).”

“Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, said, “The sad irony is that Trump’s greatest harm to human rights may not be his infatuation with abusive strongmen, but his undermining of the fact-based discourse (i.e., discussion or debate) that is essential to reining them in countries where the judicial system is unable or unwilling to enforce (human civil) rights. In most countries—the human (civil) rights movement’s main tool is to investigate and publicize official misconduct.”

“Autocrats go to great lengths to avoid that shaming, because it tends to delegitimize them before their public and their peers.”

EO is fully committed to publication of factual, truthful and useful information and news. It takes time, interested talent and treasure to exercise the due diligence which is required to identify FAKE NEWS.” EO has consistently advised its readers to learn about what is going on; become informed; register to vote, and then decide to cast your ballot in a manner which best serves your private personal interests.

I ask EO’s readers to make a modest monetary contribution of $20 once a year to enable EO management to expand its editorial and investigative reporting efforts. Since 1986, when the Morales’s assumed ownership of EO, this publication has been focused upon necessary advocacy and resolution of many local community issues…and without much direct support from the local Silicon Valley community. All advertising revenues earned stayed in this community. Times (and the economy) are changing. This community needs news and information which is out there, but must undergo editorial processing to eliminate the FAKE NEWS’. As a community-based publication, EO is in a very good position to do more, if the EO readers want to become partners and Stakeholders’.

An independent newspaper is the 4th Estate of Governance because, as long as it publishes truthful and factual information; commits no defamation of character, nor libelous activity, nor commits plagiarism, EO is protected by this Democracy’s U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment which ensures Freedom of the Press’. Become an EO stakeholder simply by providing the required support which is used to deal with the challenges of providing accessible, truthful, factual, and useful information which very likely will enable you to improve your personal living standard. In solidarity, We, The People can thwart all schemes of those having autocratic ambitions.