America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
U.S. Establishes Ministry of Truth to Combat Fake News
By Dan Geddes
4 January 2017
WASHINGTON – In response to the growing epidemic of “fake news,” President Obama today announced the creation of a new department of the federal government, the Ministry of Truth.
“As a Constitutional scholar, I can assure you that the Founding Fathers of our nation never intended the sacred First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press to apply to websites peddling ‘fake news’. The Founding Fathers well understood the importance of controlling the political narrative,” stated Obama.
“Let me be clear: ‘fake news’ is an enormous problem. So we need a war on fake news like never before. We will work closely with the more established and reliable media companies, including social media, to stamp out the threat that so many independent voices poses to our democracy.”
Candidates to head the new Ministry of Truth include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. “Mark Zuckerburg would make an excellent Minister of Truth,” stated Obama. “So would Eric Schmidt of Google. Business visionaries such as these have already proven they can do the job.”
The Ministry of Truth will work closely with the big five media companies, as well as major internet companies. Big Media spokespersons looked forward to “a new dawn of public-private cooperation for the benefit of all.” Big Internet companies such as Facebook will begin filtering and tagging fake news in an attempt to stamp it out.
Major media outlets spoke in one voice applauding the new Ministry of Truth.
Vanderbilt family scion and former CIA intern Anderson Cooper of CNN applauded the decision. “We will answer the President’s challenge and continue our fight against ‘fake news’ of all kinds. We at CNN are proud to be part of the Time-Warner family of reliable mainstream news sources.”
“The big media companies are the best arbiters of what is real news and that which is fake. Here at CNN, we only use reliable sources, such as the US Government itself, which is the most reliable source of all. The Pentagon press pool is well-known for its veracity and fidelity to truth. Truth lovers all over the world, including CNN, trust the Pentagon and the CIA,” said Cooper.
New York Times spokesman Winston Smith agreed: “For example, websites that republish Wikileaks reports may well be fake news or unwitting dupes of the Russians or both. So you should doubt any Wikileaks reports that cast doubt on the veracity of the U.S. Government. Some of their leaks about other countries may or may not be true. You should rely on mainstream U.S. sources to give you the relevant information from Wikileaks or other dubious sources. Independent bloggers tend to be ill-informed conspiracy theorists who propagate fake news to an unwitting population of deplorables.”
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington also praised the new Ministry of Truth. “Websites that operate without corporate sponsorship are generally unreliable. Reporters that work without pay are intrinsically inferior. They are either motivated by ideology or a misguided quest for fame. HuffPost will proudly play its role in the fake news initiative.”
Facebook Tagging of Fake News
Facebook has already launched pilot programs of Facebook users who tag news stories as fake.
Of course, mainstream news sources such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are automatically excluded from being tagged as fake news.
Former NBC anchor Brian Williams defended the automatic exclusion of mainstream media as fake news. “Sure we make occasional mistakes, such as supporting the claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, publishing Jayson Blair’s plagiarisms, or claiming that Hillary Clinton had a 85% chance of beating Donald Trump for the Presidency, but the mainstream media is still the gold standard for non-fake news coverage,” stated Williams from his private helicopter hovering near the Turkish-Syrian border while under heavy SAM battery barrage.
Homeland Security spokesman O’Brien stressed the importance of the mega CIA data center run by Washington Post and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. “There’s no way we would let the Washington Post be tagged as fake news. It’s almost the Paper of Record. We simply want the real news to go viral and the fake news to be snuffed out. This will help the free exchange of ideas, clear of any contamination.”
There have been cases of Facebook’s pilot users mislabeling actual news items as fake news. For example, some of Facebook’s pilot users tagged true articles such as “US Federal Debt Ceiling Reaches $20 Trillion” as fake news.
In order to test the tagging process, Facebook also created deliberately fake news items, some of which were thought to be real.
A series of fake news items about a fictional terrorist named “Emmanuel Goldstein Bin Laden” were thought to be real by many of Facebook’s pilot users. “It was very convincing,” said one anonymous news reader, when told that the articles were written only for experimental purposes.
Other users tagged The Onion as fake news. Others tagged Maureen Dowd’s amusing New York Times column as fake news.
“People who read fake news are probably less educated and so will not be allowed to tag other news sites as fake as they cannot tell the difference. They even think that reality TV shows such as Big Brother are real,” according to O’Brien.
“Satirical news like The Onion just confuses most people. They cannot be expected to have the sophistication required to discern real news from fake news let alone from satire. The Onion has fooled many intellectual heavy-weights, such as Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, who once believed and republished an Onion headline that he was the sexiest man in the world. He is so perplexed by satire that he has banned sarcasm in North Korea. While that may be a bit hard to enforce, we can understand where he is coming from.”
U.S. vs. Russian Sources
Homeland Security spokesman Joseph McCarthy has recently blogged extensively about the Russian disinformation threat. “Unlike our venerable U.S. sources most Russian sites are clearly disinformation sites. We cannot trust Russian sources to present a valid journalistic perspective or coherent worldview.”
“The big difference between the U.S. and Russia is that here our media is produced by private media companies. In Russia they have obvious state propaganda organs with ridiculous names like Pravda. Here we have a brand new Ministry of Truth. And while they have obvious propaganda organs such as Russia Today, we have venerable and stimulating publications such as USA Today, which is also very colorful.”
“If you read Russian news, you should immediately know it is fake. They don’t use the most reliable sources from DOD or CIA. The Russians support millions of blogs. We know that from hacking them. So if you read a blog that criticizes U.S. foreign policy you can pretty sure it’s either a witting or unwitting shill for the Russians,” according to McCarthy.
“Putin might even write some of these blog posts himself. One frequent Comments contributor to the New York Times who calls himself ‘Ivan the Terrific’ sounds an awful lot like Putin, and may well be Putin himself.”
“They present ridiculous ideas such as that the moon landing was faked. They have created a vast literature around it, all because they are jealous that we landed men on the moon first, and they have still never done it, nearly fifty years later. The Russians’ wasted effort at disinformation already shows the inestimable value of the Apollo project. We are winning the war of information.”
“Even many French and German sources are dubious. When it comes to news, you should definitely ‘Buy American’. We are working with other governments such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia on a fake news project called EGO (Echelon Group Operations) to collaborate on our filtering of news sources,” concluded McCarthy.
The new Ministry of Truth is hailed as a step forward by media figures and political leaders alike.
“Our continued cooperation with the government will help fight the scourge of fake news. But any allegation that the Big Media companies are stacked with CIA assets is absurd,” asserted Anderson Cooper.
“As long as right-wing fodder such as Breitbart is tagged as the fake news or yellow journalism that it is, and excluded from Facebook feeds, I’ll be happy,” concluded Obama.
Dan Geddes is the editor of The Satirist. In addition to satire, Geddes' serious criticism in The Satirist online has been widely cited in books, English courses, academic papers, newspapers, and websites. Geddes has written for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Dry Bones Review, and The Modern Word. His satirical work has also appeared in GlossyNews.com. He lives in Amsterdam.