9th October 2021
If anyone were foolish enough to believe that the FNM has fully accepted their colossal loss at the polls and are willing to rejoin the Bahamian community of sane, sober persons they would be wrong; they will not even demand their beaten, discredited former PM to resign as is parliamentary convention.
The FNM are past experts in creating fake news and controversies. So, what we are seeing a scant two weeks into the new PLP administration is a ramping up of their efforts not only to destabilize our country but also to denigrate the recent poll results. Whether it is the recent effort to mislead Bahamians into thinking that a purported list of board appointments was real or the constant blaming of the PLP for the influx of Haitian migrants their demonic efforts and schemes continue.
Now they are spreading even more fake news in the aftermath of the vandalism of the statue of Christopher Columbus ignoring, as usual, the facts on the ground.
Fact: the report on the major breach of Government House grounds under the incompetent FNM and led to the death of a Defence Force officer is still out there somewhere gathering dust. As persons who accept, and forward texts received from dubious sources or amplify and believe everything we read on social media we are to blame.
Media research conducted by Madison College has shown that most “media consumers crave content that fuels their biases. This lack of self-awareness makes these types of people vulnerable to “fake news”; and exaggerated conspiracies.
The extreme headline of made-up stories, written by biased, amateur writers with internet access, have more click appeal. People want to read outrageous rumors and believe that it is the truth.” Social media consumers especially on Facebook are especially vulnerable to fake news.
Studies have shown that likes and shares are the main reasons people post false or misleading news-they enjoy seeing the numbers climb higher than they’ve ever had before. The poison pen pushers, social media mercenaries and chronic show callers who are either employed or devotees of the FNM know this. Purveyors of fake news know that they can rely on biased, ill-informed Bahamians to resend fabricated texts which in many instances, work against the interests of the Bahamian people. Fake news and outright lies disrupt our attempts to build and maintain a cohesive society in which all Bahamians will benefit.
But blaming Bahamians for believing and amplifying fakes news is like blaming your baby for pooping in its diaper. Market researchers know Bahamian biases, likes, and dislikes better than we do ourselves. You may feel that you’re not susceptible to misinformation which means sense-misinformation exists because those who believe it don’t think it’s misinformation. This makes us useful idiots who accept and spread fake news of the vilest sort even when in our hearts we know they are lies.
The most recent attempt to mislead and confuse Bahamians was in a Tribune the headline of 4 October 2021 read “ PM Urges Us Judge: End Pursuit of WebShop Boss”. It did not matter to the reporter that the instance referred to was in a letter of August 10, 2021, by the then Leader of the Opposition as an advocate for Mr. Ulric Fox. It is therefore impossible for this letter to be written by Mr. Phillip Davis as Prime Minister because he did not become PM until September 17th, 2021.
But to create controversy where there was none and sow mischief this was the Tribune headline. I am sure that this dubious piece of reporting was either sent or referred to by legions of readers because it hit the right note; it appealed to and confirmed their biases and that was the goal.
Over the years, these so-called journalists have consistently engaged in ambush journalism designed to capitalize on hurried, incomplete statements by politicians and then disseminating these words in a form which makes our officials look stupid, arrogant, heartless, or any combination of the above; and in this, they have been wildly successful. Ambush journalism refers to aggressive tactics practiced by journalists to suddenly confront and question people who otherwise do not wish to speak to a journalist, in places such as outside the cabinet office, hallways, and parking lots.
Now they have turned this questionable, unethical tactic on members of the newly elected PLP administration who must avoid this trap. By allowing themselves to be browbeaten by lazy, opinionated, and biased journalists sometimes just as they step out of the cabinet. As cabinet deliberations are secret, I wonder why they feel that they must answer loaded, unstructured, and sometimes ambiguous questions on government policy from journalists shouting at them.
Surely, the interests of the government is better served where there is a structure in interviews and news dissemination. In this environment, journalists receive press releases and conduct interviews in an environment in which they can request and obtain the information they and their readers deserve. Which explains the recent rules for journalists promulgated by the OPM. Now I am sure that persons will object to these new standards mainly because they are in the main ill-disciplined and have no interest in reporting “real news.”
It is therefore heartening to see that the dissemination of news relating to
government policies and media operations will manage in a disciplined, fairway
and the generation of “fake news” by media houses and political hacks is minimized.
It would be foolhardy however to expect the media trolls and “fake news” manufacturers to seek and desist in their nefarious to create and disseminate fake news. That is their stock in trade; they are unrepentant and incorrigible but now Bahamians will see the lies and fake news for what it is; a final effort by defeated foes to remain relevant.
Michael J. Brown