Pope Francis, of the Catholic Church, is compiling a document about fake news. You will be interested to know that ‘fake news’ in Latin is nuntii fallaces.
The Pope says he is preparing the document for the church’s next World Day of Social Communications. He says the theme of his document will be ‘The truth will set you free: fake news and journalism for peace’.
In a statement, the Vatican said that the issue was important for the Pope because “fake news contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarisation of opinions”. The Vatican went on to say that fake news could lead to detrimental repercussions.
Soon after reading that, I turned on the TV and watched CNN, the international news channel. Since Donald Trump became US President, CNN has positioned itself as openly anti-Trump in all things. I actually find that attitude sickening because it clearly indicates that the channel is not reporting the news; rather, it is adjusting the news to suit its agenda and then reporting that as if it were the objective truth. That makes me suspicious of everything that CNN says. The CNN journalists have positioned themselves as moralists and have their own campaigns.
But let me give an example of why I link CNN to the Pope’s upcoming statement. I sat and watched CNN. Its reporters went to Puerto Rico to investigate the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria. The damage is extensive. Now bear in mind that Puerto Rico is American territory, so it falls under the US emergency response system.
CNN anchors were just about in tears about “how bad the response of President Trump has been” to the plight of the Puerto Ricans. They hinted broadly that Trump does not care about Puerto Rico. Then came the real nonsense. Firstly, the mayor of the town of San Juan – Carmen Yulin Cruz – was interviewed. The interviewer stood with a pained look, while the mayor explained that there was no running water and no electricity and that the US relief system “was doing nothing about it”. I thought to myself: well, no water and no electricity is to be expected when you see how the town was smashed up by the hurricane.
I was waiting for the CNN reporter to ask: “Well, what are you, as mayor, doing about it?” But this a question never came. All that happened was that there was total focus on the perceived failings of the Trump administration. This went on and on, with not a single question to the mayor about what the local authorities were doing.
Then CNN anchor Anderson Cooper visited a site where beautiful, clear spring water was coming out of a pipe in the side of the hill. There was a queue of people waiting to fill various containers with water. Cooper wanted to know why ordinary citizens had to fill their own containers by themselves. After all, where were the US soldiers to do it for them?
Then it got worse – far worse. The CNN resident medical doctor, Dr Sanjay Gupta, complained bitterly that there were not enough medicines getting to hospitals, “where people could die”. He too did not once ask what the local authorities were doing about it.
So, ‘reporter’ Sanjay goes off to a US military tented medical command post, which was bustling with activity, and confronts a medical orderly and demands a bag full of scheduled medicine – the type of medicine that needs a doctor’s prescription. The military medics say: “Hold on, let us see what we can do.” Off they go. Gupta then stands there, providing irritated poses for the camera and pointedly looking at his watch. Then, in exaggerated exasperation, he exclaims: “It has been 45 minutes; this is totally unacceptable”, and walks off. I thought to myself: only 45 minutes, bearing in mind that a qualified doctor would have to ascertain who wanted scheduled medicine and why, and arrange signed authority. Potentially dangerous medicine is not free sweets for children.
Gupta then arrives at some private nongovernmental organisation medicine point and asks for medicine. With a great smile, some orderly just hands him a big plastic bag full of dangerous scheduled medicine. Gupta hurries to a Puerto Rican hospital and hands it to a woman who said she was a doctor. No ID asked for, nothing signed, etcetera. Bear in mind that, if just any person pitched up at a military medical post and asked for medicine, the person could then take it and sell it or give it to anyone who may incorrectly dose an injured person and kill that person. Can you imagine the dangerous chaos that would result if dozens or hundreds of people pitched up and just asked for a bag of medicine?
The entire CNN story was a totally rigged stunt by Gupta, Cooper and the rest of the news team. Their intent was clearly to bash Trump. Concern for the people of Puerto Rico had nothing to do with it.
Just imagine the CNN management meetings that must go on. Just imagine: “Morning team, who has got ideas of what we can manipulate or distort today?”
By far the channel’s worst anchor is Kate Bolduan. She openly manipulates discussions and constantly interrupts any message that she does not like. The worries of the Pope are well founded.
Dr Kemm is a nuclear physicist and is CEO of Nuclear Africa (Pty) Ltd as well as chairperson of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation. He sits on the board of advisers of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, based in Washington DC. He is also a board member of GoNuclear Inc and EFN: USA, both based in Colorado, US – firstname.lastname@example.org