The irony of Oxford Dictionairies 2016 Word of the Year
Crusade of Truth is trending. With so many internet users obsessed with obtaining Truth and authenticity in their news, sickened by the conglomerate of faux news sites and partisan propagandists, Oxford Dictionaries has chosen a Word of the Year appropriate to the times: “post-truth.”
Well, not quite. Attributing the fact-based website Crusade of Truth with the popular usage of the word “post-truth” is a fitting example of just that; this is an appeal to emotional circumstances rather than a desire for the Truth. The public’s anger with the main stream media is used above to convince the reader that this website is more successful than it actually is by depending upon a post-truth culture that accepts this.
“Post-Truth” is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year and it is being used by liberal pundits to justify their political defeats. But, as will be explained, the irony is that the word would be more appropriately applied in altogether different political company.
Oxford Dictionaries defines “post-truth” as: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Overwhelmingly, the term is used to describe questionable news reports and overt propaganda from conservative sources. As far back as 2012, on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Mahr” panelist Katrina vanden Heuvel described the Republican National Convention that year as, “a nether-world of post-truth politics.”
During the 2016 RNC, media lambasted many Republican figures, such as Newt Gingrich, for stating that even though statistics show crime rates were at 50-year lows, people felt more unsafe than ever. This may be why Trump’s firm law and order stance resonated with his constituents.
In previous years, Oxford Dictionaries chose words that were actually used by a wide portion of the English-speaking world. Last year, in fact, the Word of the Year was not a word at all, but a crying-face emoji. The year before this, the Word was “vape,” and in 2013 it was “selfie.”
These are words actually commonly used by English-speakers in a variety of professions, ages, classes, and social groups. It would not be uncommon today to hear a grandmother declare that she is taking a selfie.
But post-truth? Who, outside of political pundits, journalists, and bloggers, is actively using the word “post-truth?” A quick search of Twitter reveals exactly what type of people are using the word.
In "post-truth" societies the "father of lies" is having a field-day.
— Miroslav Volf (@MiroslavVolf) November 18, 2016
Miroslav Volf, besides having a name that sounds like a villainous Romanian vampire, is the author of a book about the necessity of religion in an increasingly globalized world. Yuck.
— Satiria (@SatiriaNews) November 18, 2016
If you thought “Satiria” meant having diarrhea from a seated position, you are wrong. It is a global satire news site.
And, finally, this absurd notion:
— Jessica Wheelock (@Jessicawheelock) November 9, 2016
Jessica Wheelock is a self-described campaigner whose designer prescription lenses betray her as a liberal intellectual elite.
As suspected, none of the people or organizations using the 2016 Word of the Year are ordinary working Americans. A very narrow subset of people are using the term to describe the modern political landscape, and most often to denigrate conservatives.
Why would Oxford University Press celebrate a word that so far outside the mainstream American lexicon? To make a statement following the election of Trump and the political success of conservatives throughout America and Europe. The message is clear: Trump and company. were successful because of the public’s disregard for the Truth. How else could the liberal agenda be shunned by so many?
Though Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg disagrees, many Clinton loyalists insist that the popularity of fake news stories circulating and being shared on the social media site were responsible for Trump’s victory.
Faux news websites proliferate the Internet, with little or no disclaimer concerning the factual validity of their news. Articles became wildly inaccurate as Election Day neared, and after surfing the web for a short time a reader might deduce that Hillary Clinton has finally been indicted, Michelle Obama is a pervert, and Denzel Washington has joined Team Trump.
A website called fakenewswatch.com provides an exhaustive, but nowhere near complete, list of fake, satirical, and click-bait sites to avoid.
They offer advice to anyone that encounters a suspicious story on the web. Readers should ask the following questions: “Does the headline match the video or facts in the story? If they do not, it is a hoax site. Can the story be found on a major news outlet? This is not always sufficient,” says the Internet watch group.
But this is a post-truth world. Therefore, reports that condemn news sites as being post-truth may, in fact, be post-truth themselves. Lists about the authenticity of news cannot always be trusted. A recently published compilation of untrustworthy news organizations includes enough perfectly legitimate and fact-based news sources that, it was clear, the report was designed more for partisan effect than public service.
Melissa “Mish” Zimdars, an ultra-liberal assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, originally drafted the list of faux news sites to dissuade her students from citing certain conservative sources, and she failed to offer any methodology or empirical data for discriminating misleading from trustworthy news. But this did not dissuade the LA Times, a group absent from Zimdars’ list, and many other media outlets from reporting her findings.
The true danger to the public when it comes to integrity in journalism, though, does not originate from fringe news sites offering click-bait to partisans hungry to prove a point on social media.
A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 2 percent of Americans get their news from Facebook or social media (Zuckerberg was right to be doubtful), and one percent of respondents mention a particular online news site as their trusted source.
Rachel Alexander of “The Stream” claims that many faux news sites are deliberately created by liberals in order to manufacture an image of republicans as radical extremists.
Alexander says that pro-conservative, invented news stories tend to hurt the republicans more than help their cause. “The strategy, an insider told me, is to fool so many conservatives into spreading a ridiculous, fake article that finally a prominent elected official falls for it. Then,” she says, “the left pounces on the official and makes them look foolish and/or an extremist.”
Donald Trump has been a victim of these false news reports in the past, often referencing flawed reports from Twitter before fact-checking the truth. Late night TV host Stephen Colbert, is credited by Oxford Dictionaries for coining the word that eventually morphed into “post-truth:” “truthiness.” Although Colbert has invented a new word to describe Trump’s penchant for spreading flawed news: “Trumpiness.”
The genuine dangers to the civic health of America are not fake online reports that tend to humiliate conservatives more than they are reinforced by them. No, the true threat comes from covertly partisan, broadcast media.
It is much more challenging to distinguish the partisan influences during national evening news broadcasts, for example. Greta Van Susteren took exception with claims from Ted Koppel and Brian Williams of NBC for saying that cable news networks are biased, and network news anchors are somehow above reproach.
Van Susteran provides valuable insight concerning covert bias from major network news programs. “Covert bias is bias. It is harder to detect, but it is there. It can also be more treacherous to the news watcher since the news watcher when it is quiet and covert. Frankly, obvious bias may be better since it does not sneak into your psyche unexpectedly — you get a better chance of picking and choosing and deciding for yourself what is right or what is not.” She also warns viewers to avoid being lulled into complacency by the monotone, emotionless voices of network news anchors.
Additionally, the same parties upset over the circulation of obviously fake news stories on social media have not cited dissent for the outright censorship by Facebook of posts and memes supportive of Republican political candidates in the past.
A former curator of Facebook’s mysterious trending news team confirmed these allegations. “Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.” The team would actively suppress pro-Romney stories in favor of liberal ones.
Even more Orwellian is the removal of posts and shared content from everyday Facebook users across America. Todd Workman of the battleground state of Ohio admits to having his own words removed without warning during the 2012 campaign season when he condemned the policies of President Barack Obama.
Numerous reports of users having harmless content removed as hate speech also proliferate during contentious political times.
So while liberals complain that social media has become a breeding ground for faux news stories, conservatives have their very speech stifled as being hateful or altogether removed without explanation. While liberals condemn the existence of so many right wing online sources trafficking in questionable or satirical news, mainstream, television news programs clandestinely push a liberal agenda while insisting upon the highest levels of journalistic integrity.
New York Times columnist John Herrman predicts, “This wide formulation of ‘fake news’ will be applied back to the traditional news media, which does not yet understand how threatened its ability is to declare things true, even when they are.”
Despite the multitudes of Leftist, mainstream news sources that quietly push an agenda, masquerading as impartial reciters of the facts, the word “post-truth” has entered into the liberal lexicon. Meanwhile, conservative citizens must satisfy their informational needs from the dark recesses of society, tuning their radio knobs through crackling AM radio stations to find a conservative speaker, or surfing the endless, crowded blogosphere in search of the Truth about their country.