Media Manipulation: Be On The Lookout for Fake News

As my husband and friends will quickly affirm, there aren’t too many times in my life when I have been rendered speechless. But in the case of recent comments concerning so-called fake news uttered by none other than media personality Katie Couric, that indeed was the case.

No pun intended, but when it comes to the irony of Katie Couric bemoaning the problem of fake news, you literally can’t make this stuff up. After all, it was a little over a year ago that Couric herself was embroiled in a major fake news controversy that led to a $12-million lawsuit filed by a Virginia gun rights group. The Second Amendment advocates went to court over deceptive editing.

So, you can imagine my utter shock when Katie Couric presented herself in a recent interview with the New York Daily News as someone who not only detests fake news but has absolutely nothing to do with it. The final “are you kidding me” moment, however, came when I read Couric’s statement claiming she detests the phenomenon to the point of trying to get her friends and followers to understand how this currently is “tearing [America] apart at the seams.” Well speaking of tearing, I nearly tore my hair out when I read the rest of her comments, which included this gem:

“And until Americans can agree upon some shared sense of reality, they will be continued to be manipulated by distributors of fake news,” Couric said.

Note the phraseology and, more importantly, the lack of self-awareness when talking about a “shared sense of reality” as well as “manipulation by media distributors.” She’s guilty of creating reality on more than one occasion, including the deceptive-editing case.

Actually, the phrase “deceptive editing” is quite the understatement when it comes to what Couric and her colleagues working on her documentary “Under the Gun” pulled.

During production, the crew told the interviewees to sit quietly for a few minutes as they were supposedly adjusting the cameras. That “all quiet on the set” routine is what ended up in the finished on-air product instead of the actual answer to her question regarding background checks for gun owners. The on-air results, as you might imagine, and if you’re not familiar with the story, made the interviewees look as if they had never been asked such a question.

From a journalistic perspective, the deception began long before the interview was broadcast. They lied to their guests during the interview process and then used the material garnered from that lie to “distribute” another case of fake news. Perhaps it’s because in the first legal go-around, a judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), allowing Couric to become delusional or suffer from momentary amnesia. However, just because a judge doesn’t agree doesn’t mean the deceptive editing didn’t occur.

If the media can be allowed to change a person’s words to suit the media’s own needs or beliefs, then a grievous blow will have been struck against the very core of the freedom that the United States stands for,” said Philip Van Cleave, VCDL president, in a statement to members. I doubt if the public backlash Couric received over her hypocritical comments will lead to a mea culpa any time soon. That brings to mind our need to pray for those in the secular media responsible for distributing information to millions of people regularly, and it’s also a reminder that the problem of fake news is, unfortunately, a very real problem.


This column first appeared on OSV Newsweekly. To read Teresa’s latest OSV columns click here.