Government warns about ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ on Covid

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has warned against ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ on Covid, saying it risked extending transmission of the virus, and that risked keeping the country in level 2. This put freedoms and jobs and businesses at risk.

RNZ: Public warned as fake news, misinformation, conspiracy theories threaten Covid-19 response

Fake news, misinformation and conspiracy theories are threatening to derail the country’s Covid-19 response and impede progress to alert level 1.

The government has sounded a strong warning after revealing people linked to the Mt Roskill church cluster were sceptical about the seriousness of the pandemic – while a researcher is raising the alarm about far-right groups and fringe political leaders also entering the fray.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins fronted this afternoon’s Covid-19 briefing with a plea to “think twice before sharing information that can’t be verified”.

He said looking overseas, it was plain to see the coronavirus was “very, very real” and “very, very deadly”, with no vaccine – and while he wanted a co-operative approach, he did not rule out punitive measures for people who continue to deliberately spread lies.

It follows warnings that some church groups are facing a battle to deter the spread of false information among their communities.

Sociologist Paul Spoonley had his eye on tertiary institutions and groups with far-right views setting up on campuses who were “talking to those suggestible, who are keen to hear about alternative views”.

“They are certainly spreading misinformation about various aspects of the pandemic and who is behind it,” he said.

The other source of rumours that worried Spoonley was fringe political leaders.

I certainly don’t want the country and myself put at risk by bullshit peddlers.

So, should I not allow anyone to promote conspiracy ‘theories’ or false information or claims without evidence here on Covid?

Perhaps I have a responsibility to do something like this.

The freedom to promote different views, and to discuss and debate topical issues is important here.

But I need to draw a line and not allow the promotion of ignorant or deliberate misinformation or false or unsupported claims that could be damaging to our communities and country.

I probably won’t get too drastic, but I may do more to hold to account those who make dubious claims or promote obvious bullshit.

This means that suspect comments may be parked until I have time to deal with them.

So take this as a warning from me. Open discussion does not mean open slather to promoters of bullshit, or of claims not supported by credible evidence.

I really can’t be bothered with anti-social messaging here. I have to decide what is fake or false versus genuine discussion, but I will change my approach on this. I’d rather err towards responsibility here, which is on me rather than on commenters.

Political bullshit amplified in social media by opponents

Political strategists are using social media is being used like a dirty jungle.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff): In the attention economy, bullshit wins, and you’re helping shovel it along

Twenty years ago access to media coverage was controlled via the notorious gatekeepers: editors and senior journalists who decided what the news was and who got included or excluded from it. And this system had plenty of downsides but did make it harder for transparently bad actors like Cummings to swing crucial elections in advanced democracies.

As the world keeps reminding us, that media model no longer exists: the news value of a story is no longer defined by its palatability to gatekeepers, or anyone else. Instead, in a world of basically infinite content, news value is created by the ability of a story to maximise audience attention as it competes against rival forms of content: every political story vies for attention against stories about wildfires, Trump, celebrity feuds, evil Daenerys, the relentless white noise of coups, protests, riots, counterrevolutions, along with video games, streaming content, group chats, infinite cats, infinite sports, infinite porn.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this decade, I think, it’s that social media activism is not activism. Liking and sharing stuff; telling people with different value systems that they’re morons and you hate them is not politics. The endless torrents of call outs and sneering are not emotional labour. All you’re doing is producing free content for global tech companies. There’s an exception to that, though: if what you’re doing is amplifying your opponent’s worst messages, elevating them to the mainstream media where persuadable voters can see them, then congratulations. You’re an activist. For them.

So what do you do when you see your political adversaries telling lies?

I think you have to speak up and stand up against bullshit and deceit and attempts to stoke division, but it’s a challenge to work out how to do this effectively without playing into PR hands.

Real news a bigger problem than fake news?

Some interesting views on real news versus fake news.

Disclaimer: with my news criticism, I *am not* jumping on the “blame the media” bandwagon. I’m just as concerned about the growing hostility towards journalists as my colleagues at news organizations the world over. When I say news, I don’t mean *all of journalism*

On the other hand: I do think that the hostility, distrust, and cynicism towards media is a good reason for way more fundamental introspection within journalism circles: why are news media hated so much?

A common answer is: ideological bias. People hate you when they don’t agree with you. But I think the problem is more fundamental: news just doesn’t live up to its most basic promise, which is ‘telling you what’s going on in the world’.

Quite the opposite: news as we know it, tells you almost constantly what’s *not* happening in the world around you. Here’s why.

Although news is too big of a concept to accurately define, I think the definition I came to after studying the phenomenon for over 15 years comes pretty close: news is all about sensational, exceptional, negative, and current events.

Those 5 words capture exactly what’s wrong with news. It’s all about the highly visible, extremely unusual, depressingly terrible, bizarrely short term, and simply momentous. Which means: it leaves out the slow, the structural, the hopeful, the long term, and the developing.

Because of this, consuming news (and as a society, there’s almost no source of information we consume more of), fundamentally misinforms our view of the world. We see the bad weather, but have no clue about the climate.

Consider this: why do almost all systemic shocks – the financial meltdown, Brexit, Trump – end up in a debate among journalists about the question: why didn’t we see this coming? “Liberal” or “corporate” bias, is usually the answer we leave it at.

But I think it’s not so much liberal or corporate bias, it’s *recency* bias. If you can only talk about what’s happening *today*, and never about what happens *every day*, you end up clueless about the fundamental forces shaping our world.

There’s a reason why the lead role in The Big Short, who saw the mortgage crisis coming, ignored one source of information consistently: daily news. As the saying goes: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed’.

Not only does the news misinform us, it also breeds cynicism, polarization, and distrust. It’s no coincidence that divisive figures like Trump are in the news constantly. It’s not because he’s “a master at it”, it’s just that he fits the definition of news perfectly.

I’ll even put it more boldly: if I were a populist with autocratic tendencies seeking power through polarization, I would without a doubt pick “daily news” as my go-to means of propaganda.

Because news, regardless of political leaning, is one big commercial for a worldview that says: the past is better than the future; other people can’t be trusted; the familiar is better than the foreign and civilization will fall apart without a strongman holding it together.

News media push this world view twenty-four seven, under the banner of “objectivity”. It’s an autocrat’s dream.

That’s why I think we should reconsider the definition, funding, and production of news altogether. Not by just “giving you the facts” and hoping you’ll like them. Not by “echoing your world view” and thinking that will restore trust.

No, we have to *unbreak news*. First, by getting rid of the ad model, freeing ourselves from the century-old incentive to sensationalize for attention grabbing sake, and instead focus on member funding to serve only the needs of readers.

Second, by being transparent about the moral convictions that inform our storytelling instead of hiding behind the misleading ‘view from nowhere’ also known as “objectivity”.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, by collaborating with readers to uncover problems that actually matter to them instead of those that just make them tick.

Rob Wijnberg –

What is worse – obviously fake news, or plausible but poor real news?

Bridges on Woodhouse and Collins on Chelsea Manning

Simon Bridges was asked whether he backed Michael Woodhouse saying as Immigration Minister he would not let Chelsea Manning come to New Zealand to speak, and whether he backed Judith Collins promoting what some have claimed is fake news.

Morning report (RNZ):

Suzi Ferguson: On Chelsea Manning, Michael Woodhouse said he would have denied the visa if he was the minister. Do you back his comments that Chelsea Manning shouldn’t have been able to come to New Zealand?

Simon Bridges: He’s got strong views on that and he’s entitled to them. What I would say is pretty simple. Actually I don’t care where you are on the spectrum, whether you’re hard left, hard right, freedom of speech matters and you should be able to do that. Al of that said, I do think there’s an issue of the immigration rules here.

Now if Chelsea Manning is allowed too come to New Zealand on the rules, good for her. She should get out there and say what wants from the rooftop.

If though what the Government has done is bent the rules for her, I would like to understand why that is, I think it’s a slightly different issue to the free speech one, but look, I feel strongly about, um and I’ll stake my claim on.

Suzi Ferguson: What about Judith Colins comments that Chelsea Manning was a traitor whose actions led to people losing their lives or having them put in danger? That’s not actually true, so do you support her using fake news again?

Simon Bridges: Well I haven’t gone through and read Chelsea Manning’s Wikipedia page, I don’t know the ins and outs of everything that she done.

My basic sense of it is though, she was convicted of very serious crimes. Now President Obama commuted those sentences, but serious matters and that’s really my point.

Bridges trying to divert and seeming to avoid answering.

Free speech is incredibly important, but you also have to have rules…

Suzi Ferguson: Do you back her using fake news though, because it’s not the first time in the last few weeks?

Simon Bridges: I would argue it’s not fake news actually if you look at what Chelsea Manning’s history is and what has happened there. Judith Collins is entitled to say what she said.

Suzi Ferguson: Ok, that’s not actually what was every proven in court.

Ferguson moved on to another topic (identifying the leaker of Bridges’ expenses) and Bridges also left it at that and moved on.

That’s some fairly tame questioning and some vague and weak responses from Bridges.



Nation: Jess Berentson-Shaw on ‘fake news’ and it’s effect on our lives

There could be more fake claims about fake news than there is fake news. Media is rightly being criticised for lack of care in reporting, and for slanted reporting, but generally newspapers correct news that they get wrong.

But who should correct those who use ‘fake news’ accusations as an attempt to discredit news or opinions they don’t like or don’t want published?

On Newshub Nation this morning:

And as hundreds of newspapers across the US fight back against President Donald Trump’s attack on the media, we speak to author Jess Berentson-Shaw about the prevalence of Fake News and the effect it’s having on our day-to-day lives

A book by Berentson-Shaw – A Matter of Fact: Talking Truth in a Post-Truth World – was recently launched, and was the basis of a panel discussion last weekend,

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw describes misinformation as ‘sticky’, says it is very hard to change someone’s mind once they are convinced of a falsehood, regardless of what evidence they are presented

She says misinformation is not new, the Trump administration just gave it a new name with ‘alternative facts

NZH: Trump shakes core principles in attacks on media

Donald Trump attacks the US media a lot. He attacks a lot – he attacks his own Justice agencies, he attacks his Attorney General, he still attacks Hillary Clinton as if she is still a serious opponent, and he attacks a procession of people who write books about him and reveal recordings about him.

All of this is fairly unbecoming of a US president, especially when he repeatedly and unashamedly lies in his attacks.

Image result for trump nixon lincoln lie

I don’t know if that’s accurate – I don’t know if Trump knows he is persistently lying or if be believes his own bull.

But the most insidious attacks are directed at the media, trying to trash the credibility of newspapers and TV channels that don’t lavish praise on him (most of them).

NZH Editorial: Trump’s shots at media shake core principle

Over the next 24 hours, newspapers across the United States will run editorials decrying President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the media. The Boston Globe has organised the campaign in response to what it calls a “dirty war against the free press”.

Today, the Herald stands with our US colleagues. The campaign is not about politics, Republican or Democrat, but a warning against increasingly dangerous rhetoric designed to undermine the media’s credibility and to fan hostility towards it.

At a rally in Pennsylvania this month, Trump told his audience the media was “fake, fake disgusting news”. He has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people”.

He is in the company of some of the world’s worst tyrants in vilifying the media as “the enemy of the people”.

An ongoing concern is Trump’s use of the term “fake news”. The phrase was introduced into the political debate in 2016 not by Trump but his rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton. It described the use of completely fabricated “news” stories to influence potential voters on social media.

Trump quickly weaponised the term to target stories that reflected badly on him, rather than those that were factually inaccurate.

Unfortunately, the term has been adopted by some politicians and business leaders in New Zealand to discredit views that are unwelcome, dismissing stories outright without discussion.

‘Fake news’ has become a euphemism for ‘disagree and discredit’, or like Trump they want to intimidate media into not being critical of him.

The fear is that Trump’s broadsides are designed to shatter all public trust in the media, so the results of important reporting and investigations fall on deaf ears.

That’s exactly why Trump and others do this.

The process of journalism is not perfect and errors of fact and judgment do occur.

However, if we acknowledge that the information in our reporting and investigations is important, then we should not want it obscured by a pervasive mistrust in the media, promoted by the world’s most powerful politician.

There’s quite a lot of people who defend Trump’s attacks, but as time goes on more will see the harm that he is trying too do on the media, and therefore on a core function in an open and free democracy.

Image result for cartoon fake news

Collins unrepentant over fake news link

The dangers to politicians of being active in social media were highlighted again today when Judith Collins used an online ‘news’ article to demand a response from Jacinda Ardern.

This is known to be a conspiracy web site, and this was pointed out to Collins along with the real legal situation in France.

Stuff:  Judith Collins defends linking to fake news article on France consent laws

Senior National MP Judith Collins is standing by a tweet linking to a an article that made false claims about France’sage of consent laws.

France had already made sex with any children younger than 15 an offence, but it did not automatically classify all such sex as rape – neither does New Zealand.

The new law makes it far easier for prosecutors to do so by introducing a new offence of “abuse of vulnerability”. Critics have argued that the new law does not go far enough, but not that the law goes backward.

Collins responded to those on Twitter who asked why she was tweeting out fake news by tweeting to reputable news sources covering the same topic, but in a deeply different way.

She told Stuff she didn’t necessarily “agree” with every article she tweeted but wanted to draw attention to the issue.

“I’m just concerned about the story about France itself,” Collins said.

Collins said she didn’t buy into “conspiracies” about liberals pushing paedophilia worldwide, despite sharing the article which suggested liberals were doing just that in its first paragraph.


It would have been embarrassing, but admitting a mistake and apologising would have been better than digging deeper into the world of real fake news and conspiracy mongering.

Attempts to bring ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’ here

Donald Trump is following the example of a tirade of tyrants with his ongoing attacks on non compliant US media as ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’. Attempts are being made to bring these sorts of insidious assaults to new Zealand.

From Facebook:

No automatic alt text available.

Far from the real truth

I think this is quite unfair on New Zealand media. There is plenty to criticise them about – especially things like their growing obsession with trivia and click bait, reducing numbers of journalists, rushing the ‘news’ under online pressure, and their picking of winners and losers in politics.

But I don’t think they can fairly be accused of deliberately assaulting the truth. Most journalists do their best in high pressure jobs to be accurate and balanced.

New Zealand has reasonable complaints systems (too slow, but as good as could probably be expected) that help hold our media to account.

Fortunately there is unlikely to be a popular anti-media movement in New Zealand. When ‘fake news’ is promoted on Whale Oil – like First and second place for fake NZ news go to… – the declining number of people who take any notice of that site will note more irony than reality, given WO’s record of unbalanced activism while claiming to be a brave new version of media.

The fact is that most ‘fake news’ is circulated and promoted by anonymous sources acting in the shadows of the Internet as deliberate attempts to mislead and misinform.

Newsroom (March 2018): Fact or fiction? Behind the rise of fake news

Like it or not – and most of us don’t – we’ve become embroiled in a murky “fake news” propaganda conflict aimed at controlling our opinions and our choices.

It’s most prevalent in our social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter.

Broadly speaking, fake news is the dissemination of falsehoods disguised as truth.

A producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes programme, Michael Radutzky, defines it more specifically as “stories that are provably false, have enormous traction in culture, and are consumed by millions of people”. In other words, fake news creates a misinformed public, fostering societal pressure on politicians to enact policies against the public interest.

It can also undermine the legitimacy of “real” news stories.

That is often it’s aim – and seems to be a clear aim of Trump.

Adding to this problem is a general 21st Century decline in journalistic standards that has weakened the ability of news outlets to subject their information sources to effective scrutiny.

With this in mind, Snopes founder David Mikkelson warns that fake news is “a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon which encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone”.

So it adds to growing problems with news coverage.

One of the teenagers in Veles, named Goran, told the BBC how he got involved.

He started by plagiarising stories from right-wing American sites and posting them on Facebook with sensationalist headlines. He paid Facebook to “boost” these posts, sharing them with a large US audience hungry for Trump stories.

When those people shared the stories and clicked on their “like” buttons, Goran began earning revenue from associated advertising. According to Goran, he pocketed 1800 Euros ($3000) in one month.

When questioned about the morality of his actions, Goran said, “Teenagers in our city don’t care how Americans vote – they are only satisfied that they make money and can buy expensive clothes and drinks”.

But the also recruit a lot of willing unpaid helpers who get sucked into their crap and give it credence. That’s perhaps the biggest worry.

It’s far better that an open democracy that values free speech has a diverse, imperfect media and not a compliant bunch of Government mouthpieces afraid to hold power to account.

Fake president, fake news and ‘enemy of the people’

There’s no doubt that US media has dug itself into a big credibility hole. They have records of inaccuracies and bias, with major media like CNN and Fox News clearly promoting leaning heavily in different political directions. And they are in large part responsible for the Trump phenomenon,

But equally responsible for the Trump phenomenon is Trump, but for his successes and excesses.

Trump has used the media, but also battled against the media. He has popularised the term ‘fake news’, which is ironic given the frequency with which he blatantly lies.

He is more of a fake than the news. At least there is a wide variety of news sources, of varying quality. There is only one fake president.

‘Fake news’ has become Trumpian for news he doesn’t want published or broadcast. His continued attacks on media are a major concern in what is supposed to be a free world democracy. He is at risk of becoming a tyrant as well as, being an egotistical boofhead.

He was attacking again yesterday, but trying to qualify his attack after criticism of his labelling the media as ‘enemy of the people’, and encouraging anti-media crowd attacks at his bizarre public rallies.

The Hill: Trump takes us-versus-them media war to new heights

When CNN’s Jim Acosta was booed and cursed at a campaign rally for President Trump this week, many political observers said it exemplified how much the media environment has changed under the current administration — and that it is a sign of what’s to come.

On Thursday, tensions reached new heights when Acosta walked out of the White House briefing room after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to answer a pointed question about whether she agreed with Trump that the press was the “enemy of the people.”

Acosta noted that Ivanka Trump, earlier on Thursday, had said she did not agree with that sentiment.

Trump has been a president like no other, bending the truth as he sees fit and talking to supporters and bypassing the media with his Twitter account.

Still, he’s been a boon to the media, raising ratings for cable networks that are both supportive and critical of his actions.

It has been an escalation in mutual destruction of credibility. Trump feeds off and feeds the media. The media feast on the beast they have created.

“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would say it’s a bad strategy and he’s not going to win because in previous times it wouldn’t work,” Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said of Trump’s media strategy. “But we’re consistently seeing more and more people for whom that message is working.”

The rising anger has fed worries in some quarters about the possibility of attacks on the press or violence between Trump critics and supporters.

“We can’t shrug off Trump’s attacks on the press. Ever,” Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor, wrote Thursday on Twitter. “They’re undemocratic and invite, even incite, violence. This bears repeating. It demands repeating.”

There’s a high chance of it resulting in something terrible.  While not directly linked to Trump’s ongoing promotion of dislike and distrust in the media, something that should be of concern has already happened – 5 killed in shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland

And it looks like attacking media and lying is part of a deliberate Trump strategy.

An important job for the media is to hold politicians to accou8nt for what they say.

Washington Post: President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days

It turns out that’s when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Put another way: In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

So Trump is continuing what has been a successful campaign against media. That is, successful for his purposes – it is a failure for US democracy.

New Yorker – It’s True: Trump Is Lying More, and He’s Doing It on Purpose.

…the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to.

At this point, the falsehoods are as much a part of his political identity as his floppy orange hair and the “Make America Great Again” slogan. The untruths, Kessler told me, are Trump’s political “secret sauce.”

That appears to be the case for others on Trump’s team as well. As Kessler and I talked, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, presided at one of her increasingly rare press briefings. (Another metric to consider: Sanders gave three briefings in all of July, while previous Administrations conducted them daily.)

In the briefing, Sanders repeated a number of false claims, including one that Kessler had previously debunked, that reporters put out “leaked” information that caused Osama bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone and slowed the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader before the 9/11 attacks.

Kessler heard about Sanders’s false claim as we were leaving and retweeted his old article. “Kind of amazed but not surprised,” he wrote on Twitter, that the White House press secretary “would cite uninformed reporting that appeared BEFORE I debunked this fable in 2005.”

To me, the striking thing was that Sanders’s false claim was part of her prepared remarks; she read them from a piece of paper in the midst of a press-bashing jeremiad about the evils of what Trump calls “fake news.”

Asked repeatedly Thursday whether she endorses Trump’s oft-stated line that the media are the “enemies of the people,” Sanders refused to reject Trump’s characterization. “I’m here to speak on behalf of the President. He’s made his comments clear.”

The White House assault on the truth is not an accident—it is intentional.

And part of the war is a battle between media. CNN’s Jim Acosta calls out Sean Hannity for ‘injecting poison into the nation’s political bloodstream’

Jim Acosta, the chief White House corespondent for CNN, attacked Sean Hannity Wednesday night after the Fox News host voiced his support for an angry mob that heckled members of the media covering President Trump’s rally in Florida earlier this week.

Acosta was responding to a monologue Hannity delivered to open his show Wednesday night, where he referred to the White House correspondent as a “professional Trump-hater over at ‘fake news’ CNN.” Hannity did call out anyone who would act violently towards reporters as “no friend of mine,” but later in the show he turned to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who suggested Acosta deserved the angry reaction.

“If Jim Acosta has a problem with some of the ability of people to express themselves he should look at his own unprofessional and disrespectful behavior,” Spicer said. “Look in the mirror and wonder whether he’s part of the problem.”

Ex White House spokesperson and trump apologist Spicer should know what it’s like being a part of the problem.’

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

Trump’s success is based on attack, which in turn is often based on brazen bullshit. He has come after Republican opponents seeking Republican presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, the FBI, NAFTA, North Korea, China, Mexico, immigrants, Iran, the European Union, and of course any media that criticises him and doesn’t praise him.

This is an insidious assault on democracy.

It isn’t ‘draining the swamp’ as Trump promised, and some probably still believe.

Trump is creating his own cesspit of bullying and lies.

He has had some successes, both because of this approach and despite this approach. But the chances of failures are high and rising.

Like any political leader Trump should be challenged and held to account by the media.

The media in general has a responsibility to be accurate and reasonably balanced. But the same should apply to the president.

When both the president and the media focus too much on fake sideshows then US democracy is the poorer for it, and they are setting an awful example to the world. And an increasing risk to the world.

Trump is winning some battles, and is keeping an army of unquestioning supporters. But the war on democracy looks like a race to the bottom, and it’s unlikely to end well.

Fake and disgraceful

Consecutive tweets from Fox News.

Will he be known as ‘the fake president’? Or the ‘fake’ president?

Up to 270%. Still, inn part because Trump pulled the US out of the TPP that would have addressed this.

The Atlantic: Trump’s Beef With Canadian Milk

Referring to steel and aluminum tariffs he has imposed on Canada, he wrote: “Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!” He has a point. But Trump’s complaint obscures the fact that Canada has in the past been open to allowing in dairy imports in exchange for appropriate concessions; that Canada complains that the U.S. subsidizes its own dairy industry; and, perhaps most important, that while Trudeau, like all Western leaders, might need a close relationship with the United States, he needs to appeal to domestic political realities even more.

At issue is the Canadian supply-management system, which covers dairy, eggs, and poultry products. The system sets domestic production quotas and keeps prices stable, thereby guaranteeing farmers a steady income. And, in order to keep the supply stable, Canada blocks imports from other countries, including the U.S., by imposing tariffs—up to 270 percent on dairy products.

Decades, in fact—and not just for the United States, whose dairy farmers would like access to the Canadian market, but also their counterparts in New Zealand and elsewhere. New Zealand had opposed Canada’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership over the supply-management system, but Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister at the time, agreed to dismantle the system in exchange for TPP membership. When the U.S. withdrew from the TPP, one of Trump’s first decisions as president, Canada withdrew that concession…

So concessions on dairy tariffs were withdrawn by Canada when Trump withdrew the US from the TPP.

Simplistic sound bites like “”Canada charges us 275% tariff on dairy products” don’t tell anywhere near the full story – they are deliberately misleading.

Like Trump’s insinuations that all illegal immigrants are a crime risk he keeps trashing Canada on their tariffs when Trump and the US are a large part of the trade problem.

Trump specialises in fake news, in different ways.