Rex Tillerson giving a commencement speech at Virginia Military Institute (Class of 2018):
As I reflect upon the state of American democracy I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity.
If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.
Tillerson said it’s the responsibility of all Americans to recognize “what truth is and is not,” and “what a fact is and is not.” Citizens must also demand the country’s future be “fact-based, not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises, but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges,”
Ending on a dark note, he said that departing from the truth could mean “American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”
Since the 2016 Presidential Election a narrative has emerged that Fake News, much of it produced by Russian sources and amplified on social networks, generated millions of views among segments of the electorate eager to hear stories about Hillary Clinton’s untrustworthiness, unlikeability, and possibly even criminality.
The Columbia Journalism Review recently published an in-depth analysis of the effect that Fake News had on the election outcome. The key takeaway is that while fake news played a role, the mainstream media, by focusing much more on controversy (e.g., Hillary emails, Trump taxes) than policy, played a much bigger role role.
In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.
Read on: Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.