Fake News is the Enemy of the People

Protected by Free Speech and Freedom of the Press,
It Imperils Both


 © CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ., August 2018


A lie told once, remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.” — Joseph Goebbels

James Acosta of CNN recently asked Sarah Sanders to repudiate her boss and tell America that, “The press is not the enemy of the people.” On its face, this seemed to be a reasonable request, especially in a country that has always cherished both freedom of the press and free speech.

Ms. Sanders response was not what he wanted, however. Rather than give him the … No. I’m not still beating my spouse … response he was seeking, she gave him instead a rundown of the types of press coverage, and its consequences, that both she and her boss did object to that included, in pertinent part, the following:

“… Repeatedly the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger … the media has attacked me on a number of occasions … including your own network [CNN] that has said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked … [elsewhere, the press has] attacked my appearance and called me a traitor to my own gender … so far as I know, I am the only Press Secretary in the history of the nation who has required secret service protection …”


Rather than demonstrating empathy with this account, however, Mr. Acosta responded with frustration. Again he asked, “But Sarah, you still haven’t said that the press is not the enemy of the people … can you please tell us the press is not the enemy of the people?” Then, following that press briefing, he went on air to tell his audience something to the effect that the President’s press secretary, “refused to say the press was not the enemy of the people.”

By doing this, was Acosta reporting news, making news or trying to initiate a false narrative that President Trump is opposed to a free press?

It would appear to be the latter.

Shortly after Acosta’s challenge to Ms. Sanders, CNN’s Brian Stelter doubled down on Acosta’s narrative by gleefully tweeting that a media tsunami reinforcing that narrative would land on the President’s doorstep this week. According to Mr. Stelter’s tweet, he had somehow mysteriously been informed that, “On Thursday, more than 100 newspapers will publish editorials decrying Trump's anti-press rhetoric.” (emphasis added)

By contrast, however, the undeniable truth is that Mr. Acosta, Mr. Stelter, and all others working at CNN — not to mention the editors of the 100 newspapers that are apparently working in lockstep with each other — already know that neither the President nor Ms. Sanders believe that the “press” as a whole is the enemy of the people, nor are either of these individuals enemies of a free press.

Even so, those in the press that float false narratives are — by definition — not limited by the truth. They operate on a presumption of the public’s general gullibility and ennui with the news cycle to steal from the public’s trust by circulating lies — no less of a crime than is the stealing of fruit based on a presumption that the owner of the market will likely be too busy to notice.

That is the larceny the President repeatedly rebukes — the malignancy he sees metastasizing within the body of our national media that he so often refers to as … Fake News.

Fake News: Lies — including those by way of omission, innuendo and the presentation of half-truths — that media outlets fraudulently present to the public as news with the intent of impairing the reputations of targeted individuals or groups in order to serve, support or achieve some purpose, agenda or narrative desired by the liar(s).— Cliff Nichols, 2018

As said, most journalists know that the narrative that the President poses a threat to a free press is false. Yet, why would some among them willingly continue to peddle such a lie to the public? They can’t all be so mentally challenged as to not know it’s a lie. Thus, the reason must be that the lie serves some ideological purpose they value more than truth, like: weakening the President; undermining his public approval; distracting him from accomplishing what he has promised them; or ultimately — were the wet dreams of some ideologues to be completely fulfilled — even removing him from office?

Reduced to its essence, fake news is quite literally a hit-and-run tactical tool employed by anarchists that, at its core, is evil.

It has become undeniable that there resides among us today, nihilistic progressive socialist democrats — anarchists — who are striving to replace the country we were raised to be proud of into something other than that which it was founded to be. And to accomplish this, they enlist the cooperation of sympathetic members of the press to publish fake news intended to replace the shared truths that used to hold us together as a community with competing “truths.” This, in turn, creates a Balkanized society in which disparate factions find themselves guided by alternate realities that render compromise virtually impossible, and so, encourage violence.


The false narratives fake news produces encourages blacks to resent, if not take a knee against, a President empowered by a system created by slave owners, while women are likewise encouraged to resent him because he is a misogynist; all people of color, because he is a racist; Muslims, because he is an Islamophobe; and even millenials, generally speaking, because he is a privileged white dictator intent on restoring an immoral system of patriarchal dominance with the ideological fervor of a fascist Nazi.

While fake news is used to persuade each of these factions to perceive themselves to be victims for different reasons, it is exactly that commonly shared mantle of victimhood that also enables the anarchist to unite them and use their hostilities to achieve the anarchist’s single ideological objective — to overthrow a duly elected President.

Viewed from this perspective, few would argue that fake news used to this purpose should rightfully be condemned as a threat to our democracy. At minimum, it is an abuse of the very constitutional rights — free speech and freedom of the press — that presently afford it legal shelter. And that alone should be reason enough for a society that cherishes the freedoms our democracy provides to want it eradicated.

Unfortunately, however, the evil fake news presents does not end there. It also places us as a society in a position of attempting to find a remedy to eradicate this abuse that will not also pose an equal threat to these very same constitutional rights.  

The question presented is: can a legal remedy to eradicate fake news be imagined that will not also — almost by definition — place restrictions upon a press that is supposed to remain free of governmental restraints?

In short, can a cure for the cancer that is fake news be found that will not also kill the patient?  

Certainly, if we are to remain a free society, finding an answer to this question is not a task to be undertaken lightly. However, we must also bear in mind that, if an answer to this question is not found soon, we could conceivably find ourselves at some future point no longer having a free society to protect.

What say you, Mr. Acosta?

© CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ., August, 2018 — Clifford C. Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico. Comments regarding this editorial may be directed to www.cnicholslaw.com.