Fake news? You ain't seen nothing yet. - Macleans.ca

Fake news? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Scott Gilmore: Public confidence in media, business, government and other institutions is already at an all-time low. New technology is set to make truth even harder to discern.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses her new book, 'Hard Choices: A Memoir,' at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University June 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses her new book, ‘Hard Choices: A Memoir,’ at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University June 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I have lived and worked in several countries that struggle with conflict, poverty and corruption. The experience has convinced me that among more prosperous and peaceful nations like ours, two of the most valuable assets are trust and truth. Everything depends on citizens believing that people, companies, the media and politicians rarely lie, and as a result, they can be trusted.

This is the bedrock that supports every single part of our society. The babysitter tells you she has a child care certificate, so you trust her to look after your children. The bank says it will pay you four per cent interest, so you give them your money. It applies to everything.

Truth and trust are two sides of the same coin, and it’s currency that underwrites our markets, communities and even politics. It is easy to cynically dismiss politicians as chronic liars, but the reason we are so upset when a campaign promise is broken is because for the most part they aren’t—we just don’t pay much attention to all the things they said that were true, precisely because it’s so common.

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This currency is especially important in the media. When you open your paper or turn on the radio, you assume they will tell you the truth. But this currency has been hit by a devaluation shock. The rise of social media has amplified our connections to the people we know best, and therefore those we trust the most. In that forum, counterfeit facts are more readily heard, trusted and passed on. If a stranger on the street told you Hillary Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a pizza parlour, you would think they were nuts. But if your aunt or someone you went to school with told you it was true, you’d be instinctively more credulous—which is why millions of people did believe that particular story.

Not coincidentally, the rise of “fake news” has matched a decline in the public’s trust in journalism. According to Gallup, 46 per cent trusted the TV news in 1993. It is now at 24 per cent. This crisis is not limited to the media. The Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual measure of the public’s faith in the media, NGOs, business and government in 28 countries, has seen public confidence drop to all-time lows.

This currency is about to suffer a second, and possibly fatal, shock. There is new technology about to go on the market that will allow you to create audio sound bites of anyone, saying anything you want, and to the naked ear it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Adobe plans to release this software, and the previews are astounding. Allegedly intended to assist in dubbing videos, the program allows you to record someone’s voice—Hillary Clinton’s, for example—and then reuse their vocal signature to repeat any phrase, like “I ran a child sex trafficking ring.”

At the same time, there is emerging video technology that enables you to do the same thing with a person’s image. It samples numerous pictures of someone, maps their face and allows you to create video of them saying or doing anything.

The possibilities for abuse are limitless. Imagine what would happen to the New York Stock Exchange if a telephone recording emerged of the Fed Chair Janet Yellen stating Washington was about to default on its debt. How would North Korea react to video of an American general discussing a pending pre-emptive attack on Pyongyang?

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The public space is already confused with starkly competing narratives for the left and right. This would accelerate that trend and take us into previously unimagined places.

How will we respond? I predict we will suddenly develop an unprecedented need for trusted filters or specific journalists we believe can winnow the fake from the true. Given the resources needed to verify what is real, networks may become more important again, at the expense of aggregators and smaller web-based media outlets.

Inevitably, some of those new gatekeepers will be demagogues, and the debates between right and left will become even more heated as one side challenges the very reality of the other. With time, we may develop a new form of information literacy as we adjust to the fact everything must be corroborated, because we can’t even trust our own eyes.

At one time the BBC maintained a strict policy that forbade newsreaders from being identified on air. But during the Second World War, when Britain was bracing for a possible invasion, officials began to fear Axis propaganda might be used to mimic the BBC and spread false stories and panic. So announcers began to identify themselves by name so that the public would come to recognize and trust these specific voices. It seems that we will need to find a 21st-century version of this, and we will need to find it soon.



Fake news? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  1. But we can all trust Maclean’s to deliver all the Regressive Narrative that they get paid to spoon-feed us.
    Facts be damned. Feelings are more important.

    • Actually Macleans was just reporting the facts… Only stupid rednecks would think otherwise.

  2. I follow media around the world…..I learn more about Canada…and the world….than I do while reading strictly Canadian stories.

    Our media seems to be in the business of hiding important news, screaming alarmist news and finding the dark side of everything. It’s only by browsing the foreign press that one gets some idea off actual event’s.

    Canadians who stick to local news are usually uniformed, unaware and confused by events.

    Maybe it’s time we acquired more AI

    • That’s just it. Is CNN really broadcasting a fake news story or was it a type of hack? I trust Maclean’s up to a point. Anyone can hack and post whatever they want. Al Jeezra had that problem. How would we know? There could be a war declared on the U.S. or the pot stirred on a civil war brewing in Canada. When does a story turn from fiction to fact? Was the evolution manufactured? What about the Twit post about Obama and the White House? How much did the NYSE dip during that diddee?

      Used to have to pay people to stir the civil war pot, now we have social media. It fuckin’ scares the life out me. There’s No accountability. We have a major power to the south of us who thrives on twitting. Free speech? Please……….

      When Klein was in power there was a problem with one of the reporters being stalked by taxpayer funded local police. Did I believe the story? Yes, the reporter was criticising the government. Did that affect reporting in Alberta. Yes. Although, I think it is a little bit better with the NDP, at least I hope so.

      And Em? Some of the foreign news are plants.

  3. Gilmore- I fear you still fail to grasp the media’s own role in creating this crisis of mistrust. Having a certain amount of expertise on a couple of subjects, I routinely come across news stories that get basic but important facts dead wrong. How often does this really occur? There are thousands of subjects about which I know precious little. How much of what the media is telling me about those subjects is dead wrong, as well? It’s not as though some of these subjects are hard to decipher. Those reporting on them simply need to learn their subject matter better.
    Worse are the stories that are obviously agenda driven. Think about the so-called runaway Toyotas. Those of us who know cars were aware, from the moment the story broke, that it was a bogusity. There are 600 hp cars out there that can’t overpower their brakes. How is it possible that a 250 hp Camry (that when independently tested, decelerated from 70 mph to 0, at full throttle, better than a comparable Ford Taurus with no applied throttle) might be capable of overpowering brakes that are only marginally less powerful than those on 600 hp Mustangs and Corvettes? How does a Prius, which by all accounts, struggles to maintain freeway speeds on modest grades, manage to overpower it’s own brakes while climbing California’s steep Pine Valley Creek grade?
    The correct answer is on YouTube, where one can find new videos every day of cars driving through the front of a 7-11 or a dentist’s office. Mistaking the throttle for the brake is a tragically common occurrence. Despite the fact that millions of us knew that was the hard reality behind the Toyota story, the media ran with a different narrative that they concocted all on their own. Yes, Toyota’s lawyers caved, probably for all the right reasons. Between the immense costs of a lengthy legal battle, and the attendant loss of shareholder value inherently tied to it, win or lose, it was cheaper to roll over. But it was wrong, and the fault lies with a media that chose sensationalism over investigation, and the truth was intentionally damned.
    It is you and your kind that led us to quit trusting you. We don’t trust you on a great deal of things. Climate change, for example. The lack of reporting on the horror stories that come with mass Muslim immigration, is another. (Why no reporting on the fact that acid attacks are now an epidemic in the UK?) The ongoing Clinton scandals (You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know there’s likely a direct path from Imram Awan to Wikileaks and Hillary Clinton’s illegal email server.) remain underreported, by a curiously incurious media. The Canadian media itself was admantly incurious as to the possible whereabouts of some $40 million that remins missing via AdScam. The Canadian media was curiously incurious that a sitting Prime Minister, a lawyer, supposedly sold his 1/4 share in a commercial property venture, to another lawyer, without the knowledge and/or consent of his other partners, with a sales agreement written on the back of a napkin, in a country where a simple home sale transaction requires enough paper to require Weyerhauser to carve a swath through the boreal forest big enough to land a 747. How does this happen? How do you people not grasp that this is why we have lost trust in you?
    Do better. Up your game, or go home.

    • I ranted about some of that before actually reading the posts.. we all seem to be saying similar things.. and personally I believe the media is insulting us with articles like this.. I wish they’d do better. I started to notice it back in 2004 visiting forums where blacklisted researchers and scientists were talking about the push on the climate change agenda, and how they didn’t have a voice (which forced them on to discussion boards)

      Then of course there was the bias against the CPC, and favoritism of all things LPC related. A much tamer version of what we are seeing down south mind you… but even so.

      People are starting to demand better and if they don’t get it from outlets like this they will find it elsewhere.. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Even those sources we find that we think might be ok… there is always a lot of skepticism, so you have to dig thru many competing stories to try to get a sense of it all.

  4. Anyone notice that a babysitter must be female in Scott Gilmore’s mind?

  5. Ok Scott,
    Let’s be honest with each other if you’re willing. I’ll concede that the pizza parlour story could absolutely be fake. But is it fake that Bill Clinton made at least 26 trips trips to a known pedophile island with convicted pedophile rapist Jeffery Epstein? Is Bill Clinton a convicted rapist and did Hillary Clinton threaten his victims? Is US Congressman Anthony Weiner a sexual predator and married to Huma Abedin, Clinton’s closest advisor? Is John Podesta a pedophile who has sent emails (that even he doesn’t claim are fake) using language the FBI associates to pedophilia activity. Was Dennis Hastert, a democratic ally and the US Speaker of the House a notorious pedophile? The list goes on for 35 years from Boys Town Nebraska and Senator Larry King to emailgate of 10 months ago.

    Is this conspiracy talk? Is this “tinfoil hat” stuff Scott? What about Seth Rich? What about Wasserman-Shultz?

    Is any of this important to you Scott? I mean this sincerely. You’re trying to save your industry’s reputation by doubling down? There is no integrity or trust left, and this is why.

  6. Part of the problem here (with the rise of other media, social media, the internet etc.) Is our media is selective. It will not report on some things that are big news and common knowledge elsewhere and when it does it’s selective in how it reports it. That’s where the initial distrust came from and it dates back over a decade now.

    What’s going on now is different.. As a Canadian being bombarded by anti trump and pro Clinton articles for the entire election season and watching how YOU GUYS twist things around with creative titles, taking things out of context, flat out ignoring some things while focusing in on other (again.. totally in regards to the American election here..) what are we supposed to think? Your being impartial? NO… Not even remotely close.

    You know we got this a bit with Harper and your paper reported on it and has done so thru the years… but this Dem/Rep stuff goes so far beyond that it’s downright insulting to our intelligence in it’s obviousness. The media made this bed, Lie in it or (censored) fix it. Good day!

    • You know.. it really ticks me off. Macleans above other media in Canada tended to chart it’s own course, focus in more on the BS that other media outlets ignored.. Now your pandering, doubling down, and not being fair, honest or even remotely impartial. How bout writing a in-depth article truly exploring it all.. A good 9 pager! If we can get one of those 3 weeks before Justin Trudeau decided to run for the LPC…(Maclean’s or the G&M can’t remember..) I’m pretty sure you guys can do one on how you all have FAILED US.


  7. Ain’t seen nothing yet huh? What a load of crap!

    Fake news is simply the newspeak for propaganda. It’s how those in power stay in power and get us to kill anyone who gets in their way.

    Watch this documentary called “the war you don’t see”. You’ll see Dan Rather explain that if the media hadn’t simply repeated government propaganda, and instead reported truth, we wouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq. Etc. Etc. Etc.


    • BTW.

      Edward Bernays was Sigmund Freuds nephew.

      Together they reverse engineered psychosis to create mass psychosis, called propaganda.

  8. Well the first part of this piece spells it all out – trust is what we need and sorely lack.

    Maybe if journalists reported on the myriad ways that corporations have destroyed trust, and held CEOs accountable – that would be a start. But they all seema to get a pass to do wtvr they want.

    • Held accountable to what standard? Ethics? Morality? Justice?

      Our society has been designed to include corruption.

      Our economy is market based. Hard earned wealth can be erased and transferred to others overnight by design.

      The rich take 500 times the average wage. Six percent of those don’t even have a job.

      How do we fix it? The answer is dead simple.

      Criminalize lying and start asking tough questions.

  9. No credible reporter in the media, whether mainstream or alternate, has claimed that “Hillary Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a pizza parlour”. By saying that here you dismiss the whole issue as ridiculous. You must know that individuals very close to the Clintons have been accused of being involved in child sex, with plenty of evidence to back up the allegations, but you choose for some reason to deliberately twist the truth to make your point.

  10. An excellent examination in the link below of the outrageous CNN bias and mistruths. What really bothers me is, that by the time they issue a retraction, their B.S. has already been spread all over social media entities like Facebook and the young readers are liberally passing this crap along like wild fire. CNN is a disgraceful “news” outlet.


    • Further to your point, Jerome, if the “chaos” of the current administration is worthy (seemingly) of half a dozen articles per day, then is it also not newsworthy that Congress has voted to appoint a special prosecutor to look into activities of Loretta Lynch, James Comey, Eric Holder, and Hillary Clinton regarding Clinton’s illegal email server?

    • Thanks for posting that link. Good info.

      • More good info for Gilmore to chew on. We now know with complete certainty, that the so-called DNC “email hack” was not a hack but the work of a DNC staffer downloading 1976 mb of data to a portable hard drive on July 5, 2016.
        Despite this, despite Seth Rich, despite Hillary’s illegal email server, despite all appearances that Loretta Lynch worked behind the scenes to protect Clinton regarding her server issue, despite the Awan’s and serious, serious questions that their actions raise concerning Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and a dozen other congessmen, this magazine and especially this particular writer remain focused like a laser on the Trump-Russia collusion.
        Again, it is the opposite of journalism to wholly ignore the very real issues of the American Democratic Party while focusing on Trump.

  11. It’s so damned two dimensional.

    Stupid people buy in to the propaganda that there are always only two choices available, republican vs democrat, liberal vs conservative etc. Easily translated into us vs them, we’re right they’re wrong.

    That’s the prerequisite for all fake news, propaganda.