Traditionally, “fake news” has been defined as a form of yellow journalism, or propaganda, designed to broadcast false information in a manner intended to bolster the political and/or financial gain of those spreading such misinformation.
In the modern Trump Era, an updated definition of “fake news” can be found on Urban Dictionary as “anything which does not mesh with one’s own views,” or “Normally typed in ALL CAPS (FAKE NEWS). It is the only news Mr. Trump loves.”
Most Sewanee students are familiar with the icebreaker, “Two Truths and a Lie.” The object of the game is for one player to state three facts about themselves, one of which is actually a lie, in such a convincing manner that the other player cannot guess which is the lie. Interpreting President Trump’s State of the Union address is like playing Two Truths and a Lie.
Truth: “Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs…”
It is true that the Trump administration has created 2.4 million new jobs thus far, with an average of 169,000 new jobs per month since the 2016 election. However, this is not a significant statistic, considering the Obama administration added 185,000 new jobs per month on average. Technically speaking, the American economy is losing approximately 16,000 jobs per month under the Trump administration.
Truth: “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.”
This is an accurate statement, but it requires additional context. The African-American unemployment rate has been on a steady decline for several years. This is a long-term trend, which saw the greatest amount of progress under the Obama administration. The African-American unemployment rate is not something President Trump can take credit for, given it is only his first year in office. Not to mention, the African-American unemployment rate at 6.8 percent is still drastically higher than the caucasian unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. Make no mistake, the wage gap is still wide.
Lie: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”
This simply is not true. The Trump administration’s tax cut ranks 12th in U.S. history behind those of President Reagan and several others.
When playing this game, it is important to remember that those who are stating the “facts” might be lying, no matter how convincing they may sound. Just because a person of great importance makes a statement, even if it is stated as a fact, does not mean it is factual.
Be mindful that FAKE NEWS is a form of propaganda and is designed to convince you of things that are not fully accurate or are taken out of context. Sometimes, even the truth is slightly skewed.