There’s a lot of talk about “Fake News” these days, unfortunately with good reason. The political climate right now is pretty toxic, and the news media is right in the thick of it. And not in a good way.
There are two basic types of what is currently called fake news – the mistakenly wrong and the purposefully wrong. The former is just that – mistakes in reporting or analysis that get repeated over and over and end up as accepted fact. Most often the big mistakes are corrected, but by then the damage is done. The later is perhaps even more damaging because the intent is to mislead and rarely do these inaccuracies get corrected.
In my work in DC I have been involved in several national level events, from Presidential Inaugurations to Federal responses to emergencies. Because of this I have seen both types of “fake” reports. I have to say that it is disheartening to be part of a major event and watch the media (local and national) totally botch the coverage. Here are two recent news items that highlight both types of “fake” news.
First, the recent hurricanes in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: from the media reports it looks like the Federal government was caught unprepared and took much too long to respond. I was even asked about that at a get together with a local prepper group. The reality is that the government was acting before the storms even hit the islands. Supplies were pre-positioned, plans were put into action, and people were moving into position. But even with that level of pre-planning it just takes time to get organized on the ground and start providing relief. The responders require supplies, security, housing, and transportation. The actual work of response can not begin until the logistics trail is up and running. I can’t stress this enough – it just takes time. It never happens as fast as one wishes, but reality doesn’t run on wishes. I know quite a few details of the response because I was working in the Army National Guard operations center and saw what was being done. On the other hand the media, through ignorance of the work being done, reported that nothing was happening. And that narrative has, unfortunately, stuck.
Next from over the weekend, the President was roundly mocked by the news media over his actions at, of all places, a koi pond in Japan. The spin was that he committed a terrible faux pas by dumping an entire box of food into the pond to the horror of his hosts. The reality, of course, is that he was doing exactly what his host did only seconds before. The media willfully cut out that part of the film and did so in order to portray the President as crude and ignorant. And that narrative is still for the most part uncorrected.
At this point you might ask “what does this have to do with prepping?” Just this – you simply can’t rely on media reports about critical events. Not from the established press and certainly not from the myriad of news sources on the Internet. You will get, most likely, just a sliver of truth or only a few actual facts. You cannot allow yourself to respond emotionally to the reports you see or read, especially in the immediate aftermath of an event.
The press may report on something in a way that makes you angry or scared, or both. But it is just as likely that they have completely misread or grossly oversimplified the situation and are not giving you the whole story. Additionally they may, for their own reasons (such as generating revenue or pushing a perspective for political gain), purposefully misstate facts. You have to keep a cool head. Learn to be comfortable with your own judgment, trust your own observations, and be wary of making decisions based on statements from those with limited knowledge or political biases.
And keep prepping!