30. Should We Always Believe What We Hear on The News?

These days, it’s hard to always believe what you hear on the news, especially since the information is different depending on what channel you’re watching. But with so much misinformation out there, how can we be sure that the news we are getting is true?

People:

 

Here is the transcription of our conversation: 

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hey, Connor.

Connor: So President Trump is always talking about fake news.

Brittany: Yep. He is.

Connor: What is this fake news thing? I wanted to talk to you about it. It’s interesting because there’s been a lot of complaints about the news, quote, unquote, the news. And, and why do I say quote unquote? Well news in my mind is, is informative. Right? And it’s, it’s not biased, meaning the person isn’t trying to like only show you one perspective and have you believe a certain point of view. I laughed during, the Coronavirus crisis like right at, the time when like everyone was just the most kind of anxious and paying attention. I remember seeing this video online, and it was a news, what do you call it? A reporter. It was the reporter standing in front of the camera and they were wearing a mask, and they were talking about how a lot of people weren’t wearing masks and why that was a problem.

And so they were just talking about “Man, everyone needs to be wearing masks.” And they interviewed someone who was like, you know, complaining or criticizing people not wearing masks. Well, then someone else standing nearby was also recording their own video, and they posted it online. And what did you see? Well, yeah, the reporter was wearing a mask like we saw on camera. However, the cameraman was not wearing a mask. And so here’s this reporter like shaming everyone for not wearing masks. And, and his own colleague wasn’t wearing a mask. And so you get these, like the, these quote-unquote news reports that, that they seem so skewed, right? It seems like we’re not really getting facts and we’re not getting true information. We’re getting like manipulation. We’re getting perspectives that are trying to bias us. So I guess maybe let’s start just at the outset, Brittany, this is clearly a new thing that has only started during President Trump’s administration, right?

Brittany: Yes, no. Absolutely not. Since the beginning of time since there was, you know, the first newspaper that was probably chiseled on some sort of stone somewhere. There has been biases and there have been people telling half truths, right? I mean talk about have three people have anything happen to those three people? Each of those three people will tell the same event differently, right? We’ve all played telephone as kids. Remember where you, somebody starts a message and then you have to whisper in their ear, and by the end, it’s a completely different message.

Connor: Right.

Brittany: Well, that happens with the news too. And the problem is, we have so much news today because we have social media, we have the internet, we’ve got radio, we’ve got podcasts like this. So there’s so much information that no one really knows what’s real anymore or what’s, you know, false.

Connor: That, that actually brings up a kind of an interesting maybe little exercise for the kids listening. I would encourage the, the kids listening, go talk to grandma or grandpa and ask them when they were, were your age, what the news was. Like.

Brittany:  Ooh, that’s a good idea.

Connor: And, as I think about this, like with my own grandparents, and I’m a little older, so my grandparents of course were kids, you know, a decade or two or three or however long before. But when you ask your grandparents or even great grandparents, if you have some that are still alive, that would be even better. Brittany, what they’re most likely to say is, Oh, when I was growing up, there were only three channels on tv or, you know, there was..

Brittany: Or maybe just two newspapers, right? Maybe before Before tv, Yeah.

Connor: Yeah. And, actually, I mean, I think back in the day, there were probably more newspapers than there are now, right? That’s small, smaller towns had newspapers. A lot of people got their news that way. But, you know, the TV stations were very few. So it’s interesting, I think a lot of people, you know, would maybe watch the nightly news on, you know, with Walter Cronkite or whoever on the one channel, but that they had their local newspaper where there were, you know, reporters talking about what was happening in their community or around the world. It’s kind of interesting to see how news has changed. So maybe fast forward, Brittany, if we have our listeners go ask their grandparents what it was like back in the day, how would you describe kind of what newsquote unquote news or media is currently like? How would you describe the current state of affairs?

Brittany: Chaos. which I mean that in both a good way and a bad way. And the good way is we have so much news, like I was saying before, that it’s, it’s like there’s more stuff to sift through, right? We have so much information at our fingertips on our phones, at our computers that we actually have to sit and say, All right, what’s real and what isn’t? And that’s really good because like we were talking about earlier, if we think about back in the day when maybe there was not a whole lot of news sources, we’re very lucky to live at a wealth of information. The problem with that is that takes more work on our part. That means that people like you and I have to be really, really vigilant , in fact checking, right? Finding out if what we’re listening to is correct. And right now, that’s becoming increasingly hard because like you said, on one channel, they’re saying one thing than you switched to another channel, and they’re saying the completely different thing, and they seem to just go against each other. And so a lot of it just seems like it’s a bias or an opinion. Like you said,

Connor: It gets even harder. A lot of people will agree with you, Brittany, that we need kind of fact checkers to do this. And there are some big social media websites like Facebook and Twitter you know, Facebook especially has started to do like fact checking. But they rely on people, humans with their own opinions. And their own biases to do the fact checking. And so you’ve seen for example, I had a, I had my own post when the CDC, which was a Center for Disease Control, one of the government agencies, and they were talking about how the schools would be allowed to reopen In the fall, Right? And, oh, here’s all these, you know, guidelines and recommendations, and it made the waves, a lot of parents were talking about it. And for the kids listening, they were, they were recommending a lot of crazy things, right? Like all the young kids have to wear masks and no playgrounds, no recess,

Brittany: No Lunchtime, right after

Connor: No Lunchtime. Yeah. Like all the good things that we remember about school, right?

Brittany: A few Good things.

Connor: Yeah. You just have to sit in a desk six feet away from people. So I wrote this post on Facebook and I shared this information. I talked about how they were guidelines. I didn’t say that they were mandates or laws or requirements. And Facebook put a little graphic over my post saying, you know, this is false. And they provided a link to some other organization that quote unquote, was the fact checker. And they were saying, Oh, all these people are claiming that this is a required, but the CDC was just giving them as recommendations. And so then I thought, Well, wait a minute, That’s all I was saying, and yet now you’re portraying my point of view as incorrect. You’re portraying me as a liar. Right. Or maybe someone who’s gullible and just believes wrong things. And, you know, then you think of, there’s groups like Snoops, There’s a website

Brittany: I was gonna bring up The Snoops

Connor: Please

Brittany: To me

Connor: Go Ahead

Brittany: The funniest thing, because you had a parody, or satire, I guess is the word website and satire for listeners that you don’t know, is when you kind of take make a fictional story out of something that’s kind of true, but it’s like funny, I’m trying to think of shows that maybe do that. What’s a kid show that does that the kid shows do that?

Connor: Oh, I don’t know. I have some homework to do to find out

Brittany: Me too. I guess So Babylon B was a website that kind of made not real news stories, but they were news stories that were kind of based on real themes going on in the news. And, they were pretty obviously fake and everybody would laugh at them, but Snopes a fact checking site started basically saying, We should ban these funny sites that we can’t have these because they’re not telling the truth. But it became so outrageous because nobody was going to the site for the truth. Right. Babylon b and sites like the Onion people go to laugh. It’s, it’s all about comedy. It’s all about having a good laugh. But here, fact checking has gotten so blown out of proportion that now you have websites that are checking, you know, funny sites as being fake news when they weren’t even news in the first place.

Connor: Yeah. And the Snopes is run by like a guy and his wife, and they are like, you know, very liberal democrat type people. And so they have their own biases and perspectives and, and you know, then they fact check things on people that they don’t agree with, but then they don’t fact check things on people that they do agree with. Right. They don’t want to portray, you know, other Democrats, for example, as being wrong or liars or sharing fake news. And so they don’t, you know, analyze their stuff as much, but then they’ll do it all the time to people that they disagree with. So you definitely find kind of this uneven playing field. And so, Brittany, my next question for you is based on, on that idea that it is this uneven, unequal playing field, you described it as chaos. There’s so many sources, we need to be fact checking. How does the, how do our listeners, how does the average person try and sift through all that? Let, let me make it even easier. How do you sift through that? What do you do to try and make sure that you’re learning the truth and, and not being kind of swayed to, read or, believe fake news?

Brittany: Well, and I’ll be honest, I mean, we each have personal biases as well, right? So I, I am going to go and seek out news sources that, do, you know, not only tell one side of the story, but are aligned more with my opinion. However, there are certain things that are just facts, right? The, the facts of a case, the fact of what happened. And for that, and I think I’ve talked about this in an earlier episode, I always go to something called primary documents. Sometimes that means a, like reading a piece of legislation, which is not easy work. I want to point out that a lot of making sure you get the news right, It’s a lot of personal responsibility. You know, I’m not going to rely on a fact checker, like you said, who’s just a another person, you know, who’s, who also has their own biases.

I’m not going to trust that person to fact check for me. I’m going to need to fact check everything that I read. And eventually I think you kind of come down to a part where you have maybe, you know, a handful of publications that you really you trust. But that doesn’t mean you should ever stop fact checking. Even when I read something in, Forbes or Wall Street Journal, which tend to be, in my opinion, a little bit more truthful than others, even though I still rely on those, every time I read an article, I’m still going and looking for those primary documents. I’m still reading the legislation or, or reading the actual quote. You know, that was, that was used in the article. So I think, and I think I’ve used this term for as well, constant vigilance, right?  to understand and to get the right news. You have to be really working towards making sure that you’re doing everything you can to make sure that you are fact checking.

Connor: Something that I’ve tried doing in the past first is sometimes I let my friends be my filter. And what I mean by that is, rather than me going out to news sites and clicking and reading everything, I’ll wait until I see friends sharing, you know, on social media the same article several times. And then I’ll think, Okay, this is now newsworthy. In other words, a lot of people care about it, so maybe I should as well. But even then, maybe they’re all sharing the same article or the same few articles that might be biased. And so, like you, it’s, it’s very much trying to find like, okay, what’s the original story? Or let’s go to a few different news websites. One thing that I found interesting, Brittany, is especially when it has to do with like the American government, we talked about Edwards Snowden, for example.

And so one thing that I like to do is read media sites from other countries and get their totally different perspective than American ones, cuz American for example, if you’re a reporter who’s reporting on let’s say Congress or the President, you want to be able to have access to them because you want to be able to interview them for your stories, get quotes from them, and so you don’t want to upset them too much. And so what that means is that you as a reporter, you’re supposed to be this good investigative reporter holding powerful people accountable, exposing corruption, blah, blah, blah. Except that doesn’t really work out very well because reporters want to not offend their sources. They don’t want to upset the people who they want to interview. And so they rarely are, you know, really tough on these people.

And so what that leads to is journalists or reporters in America who tend to be very friendly towards, you know, congress or the President or their perspective. But when you read from reporters in other countries who don’t have to deal with that same kind of, you know, relationship situation, they can be much more aggressive. They can be much more raw and real and, and call people out. And so it’s very interesting to read totally different perspectives from different countries, either in other English speaking country or a lot of the big websites in other countries. They’ll have, you know, English translations, on their website. So that’s been something enjoyable and, and enlightening that I’ve done as well to try and see like, you know, what about people who totally have a different culture or perspective just to kind of see what they say.

Brittany: I think another thing to bring up too is, is finding journalists, not even just publications, right? Journalists that, you know, are pretty good at telling the truth. Glen Greenwald is a favorite of mine, and I don’t always agree with him, but he is the one who first broke the story about Edward Stone. And so he’s been very trustworthy in my opinion, and he’s willing to say things that maybe go against popular opinion even when he, you know, he knows that they are true. Another one, I think his name is, I wanna say it’s Jeremy Ski Hill. I get the name wrong sometimes. Yep, that’s right. He’s another one who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, who’s just a lovely person, but he’s another journalist who has taken a lot of risks and to report the truth. And so he’s somebody that even when I don’t always agree with him on let’s say, economic issues, I know I can agree with him on foreign policy, things like this. So I, go to him for this news because he’s already kind of proven himself to me.

Connor: One of the things I think we have to be careful about when we talk about the news is you just pointed out a little bit, you know, you disagree with them sometimes, sometimes they’re wrong. Everyone has their own biases. We also have to get away from this idea that authority figures are right, right? Or that certain reporters or certain newspapers, you know, that, oh, it’s the New York Times, they must be right, Or it’s Fox News, right? But you know, think of like being in school. Your, teacher kind of has this authority position and you need to learn and listen to whatever I’m saying, but they could be wrong. And then if you challenge their authority, you know, they’re not going to like it very much. Honestly, Hey, for you kids listening out there, your parents might be wrong sometimes too, right?

And, so it’s hard for us, right? Because we’re trying to learn what’s true. We’re trying to gain access to truthful information, but we have to be willing to recognize that maybe we shared an article that was wrong, or maybe we believed something from a report that turned out to be incorrect. We have to be humble enough to say, Oh, yeah, I used to believe something that was wrong, or I, I used to agree with this thing that turned out to be bad. But we’re all always kind of changing our minds and learning new information. We have to be willing to adapt and change our minds as we learn more truth. And so I think that’s a really good quality for kids to have, especially even us as adults to, be willing to admit mistakes. Because as you point out, Brittany, like, this is chaos.

We’re always hearing these different perspectives, people trying to manipulate us. I mean, there are people out there literally who try to take advantage of other people and deceive them, right? They try and get people to believe wrong things. Especially in the, the realm of government, right? Because then maybe we’ll support a certain candidate for office, or maybe we’ll support a certain policy that Congress wants to do. We talked on a past episode about how the, guys in charge of the military tried to do really bad things to Americans, to deceive them into supporting war. So there are, there are people out there who try and get us to believe wrong things because it benefits them. So we always have to be kind of on guard. So i think it’s a, great topic for us to think about. Brittany.

All right guys, well, we’ll leave it there. Make sure you are subscribed, total twins.com/podcast for the show notes. Maybe we’ll link to Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Ski Hill and some of the stuff that they’re doing so our listeners can continue finding voices to trust. It’s a challenge, guys, even for us to try and make sure that we’re not being swayed by fake news. It is a constant battle. So hope you’re up to the task. You can at least trust us, the, Tunnel Twins team, right? We’ll only, we won’t feed you any fake news, but make sure you’re sharing with your friends. We’ll see you guys on the next episode. See you later, Brittany.

Brittany: See you next time.

 

 

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