Sharyl Attkisson is a New York Times bestselling author and host of the weekly Sunday public affairs program, Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. An investigative journalist, Sharyl has worked for CBS News and also as a foreign correspondent for CNN. She is a multi-award winning writer.
In 2017, she published The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote. Which dissected the origins of the now infamous fake news term. In an exclusive interview she explains how fake news is a propaganda phrase invented by the left that was eventually co–opted by Donald Trump.
Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.
According to Attkisson, the research that she carried out for her book to source the provenance of the term fake news led her to a non–profit organisation funded by Google whose parent company; Alphabet, was at the time chaired by Eric Schmidt. Schmidt was one of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign strategists and donors during Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.
“A smear artist told me that nearly every image that crosses your path on a daily basis whether it’s on the news, on a billboard or on a late night comedy show. All of it was put there for a reason, often by someone who paid a lot of money for it to be there.”
Attkisson is scathing of PR and law firms for “forwarding one narrative or one idea” which are rooted in political causes and often undisclosed.
She told Newsvoice that “the smear industry” is a multi-billion industry, that looks to target personalities or those with dissenting voices that the establishment wishes to shut down.
Journalists globally have been facing attack from their own governments and officials for just doing their job. Almost on a daily basis we hear of the jailing of journalists in countries like Turkey and China with a total of 262 imprisoned globally in 2017.
Sharyl Attkisson told Newsvoice that she too has been subjected to privacy violations at the hands of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. She explains the forensic evidence uncovered in the case, and her ongoing battle for justice.
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You can read more about Sharyl’s work at https://sharylattkisson.com/
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In a recent Tedx talk at the University of Nevada, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson revealed some of the earliest efforts to seed the phrase "fake news" into the public lexicon by a little nonprofit group funded in part by George Soros' Open Society Foundation and Google.
The group, "First Draft," announced a partnership on September 13, 2016 "to tackle malicious hoaxes and fake news reports," said Attkisson. "The goal was supposedly to separate wheat from chaff, to prevent unproven conspiracy talk from figuring prominently in internet searches. To relegate today's version of the alien baby story to a special internet oblivion."
First Draft – a project of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government – uses research-based methods to fight mis- and disinformation online. Additionally, it provides practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web.
Claire Wardle, Research Fellow at the Center, leads the work of First Draft under the auspices of the Shorenstein Center and its faculty director, Nicco Mele. Grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundation and the Ford Foundation support our work. -First Draft
A month after First Draft began its September campaign against "Fake News," President Obama opined on the topic.
"He insisted in a speech that he too thought somebody needed to step in and curate information of this wild, wild west media environment," said Attkisson, noting that "nobody in the public had been clamoring for any such thing."
Attkisson was suspicious that Obama's decree served as marching orders to the MSM - suggesting that "few themes arise in our environment organically," and to "follow the money."
"What if the whole anti-fake news campaign was an effort on somebody's part to keep us from seeing or believing certain websites and stories by controversializing them or labeling them as fake news?" suggested Attkisson.
Meanwhile, another major donor behind First Draft's "fake news" push was none other than Google parent company CEO Eric Schmidt - a giant Hillary Clinton supporter who "offered himself up as a campaign advisor and became a top multi-million donor to it," said Attkisson, adding "His company funded First Draft around the start of the election cycle."
And almost as if choreographed, Hillary Clinton jumped on the Fake News bandwagon while her "surrogate David Brock of Media Matters privately told donors he was the one who convinced Facebook to join the effort."
"The whole thing smacked of the roll-out of a propaganda campaign," said Attkisson.
All of the sudden, "Fake News" was everywhere:
It wouldn't be long before the left lost control of their new pet phrase they worked so hard to promote:
"But something happened that nobody expected. The anti-fake news campaign backfired. Each time advocates cried fake news, Donald Trump called them 'fake news' until he'd co-opted the term so completely that even those who [were] originally promoting it started running from it -- including the Washington Post," which she noted later backed away from using the term. -PJ Media
Indeed, the Washington Post grew so frustrated with the fact that "Fake News" had been co-opted by conservatives that they called for its retirement in January 2017!
…though the term hasn’t been around long, its meaning already is lost. Faster than you could say “Pizzagate,” the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear. –WaPo
Which is ironic, considering that the Washington Post was instrumental in propagating the phrase as early as April, 2016 - even before First Draft's September campaign.
Timeline of "Fake News" before it went hyperbolic in October, 2016 (in other words, the "seeding" campaign).
April 2nd, 2016: A search for “Fake News” sorted by relevance (Google’s default) for results prior to 10/29/0216 reveals the earliest instance of the phrase coming from a Washington Post Exposé about a pro-Trump website.
Searching for “Fake News” by date vs. relevance:
April 11th, Buzzfeed stokes the fire by following up on Facebook’s 2015 commitment to eliminate hoaxes. Interestingly, Facebook doesn't use the phrase "fake news" in their 2015 campaign, yet BuzzFeed applies it in April - long before its mainstream application.
September 2nd, less than two weeks after First Draft's campaign, factcheck.org uses the phrase “Fake News” to refer to a false story about President Obama banning the pledge of allegiance in public schools.
October 5th, The Guardian reports that Buzzfeed was allegedly hacked on October 5th by a Saudi teen named Ahmad Makki, who defaced the Buzzfeed website with a message that read “Don’t share fake news about us.” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was hacked by the same “Fake News” hackers.
In fact, a whole bunch of tech CEO’s and celebrities were apparently hacked by “fake news” Ahmad Makki, who conspicuously shares the same name as a famous Pro-Assad blogger who was [nsfw]
murdered brought to justice by the Free Syrian Army (the rebels Hillary planned to support in toppling Assad).
October 7th, two days after The Guardian story, buzzfeed turns around and posts a story about a “Fake Hillary Clinton Speech Transcript” emanating from a “fake news” website.
October 8th, Snopes gets in on the Fake News action:
October 13th, liberal Vanity Fair rehashes the Facebook “Fake News” story, which Facebook later put together a new and improved “task force” to deal with:
October 19th, our old friends at the Washington Post jump into the fray once again:
November 17th, WaPo publishes a story from a “Facebook fake-news writer” who thinks he got Trump elected by spreading fake news.
December 9th, Hillary Clinton gives her “Fake News” speech in her most victimy purple pantsuit - the same day propaganda seed-planting Buzzfeed was caught citing fake data in their fake news story.
So there you have it – the carefully woven phrase “Fake News” was simply propaganda trotted out by Hillary Clinton supporters and the MSM to try and discredit non-approved sources of information, only to collapse under the weight of their inability to effectively message, and the fact that Donald Trump - a master at public opinion, co-opted the phrase and made it his own.