Recently I was asked to be on a two-hour radio interview to talk about fake news. Initially, I wondered if I would have enough to discuss for two hours. As it turns out, there was more than enough to talk about.
Now there is even more to discuss since universities are beginning to post what they call a “fake news list” of news organizations. A Harvard University library website provides students with a section called: “Fake News, Misinformation, and Propaganda.” It is intended to give them tools for “reading the news with a more informed eye.”
The problem with the list is simple. According to one report in the Washington Examiner, it “lists nearly every legitimate conservative-leaning news groups alongside hoax websites.” Some of those include the Daily Caller,Independent Journal Review, The Blaze, Red State, and the Weekly Standard. There are a few liberal news sites that are listed, but others (like Mother Jones, Vox.com, Media Matters, and the Huffington Post) are conspicuously absent.
It is worth mentioning that the list is not a Harvard creation. It was developed by an assistant professor at Merrimack College for her students. She points out that is was not supposed to be a fake news database, but apparently now has morphed into one. And there are similar lists popping up at other universities.
These fake news lists have two problems. First, the liberals who create these lists seem much too willing to label conservative sites as fake news sites. Second, they conflate two different types of news sites. Often the fake news lists group websites that generate stories that are fabricated out of thin air with legitimate news sites.
True fake news sites are guilty of purposefully publishing misleading information and deserve to be labeled as such. But legitimate conservative news operations do not deserve to be lumped with them.