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What is fake news? The historical influence of the fifth estate

Written By | Jan 9, 2020
Fake News, Yellow Journalism, Pink Journalism

NAPLES, FLORIDA: On March 5, 1770, a mob of American colonial subjects in Boston confronted a lone British soldier, Private Hugh White, guarding the Customs House on King Street. A Britsh patrol, led by Captian Thomas Preston, arrived to defend the treasury stored inside the Custom House.  The crowd grew and snowballs, maybe snow-covered bricks too, thrown from the unruly mob led to shots fired into that crowd by British soldiers fearful of the near-riot turning against them.

That riot against British rule, fueled by hatred of unwanted taxes, was turned into a massacre of innocent Americans by an uncaring British government, by the patriotic publisher, Samuel Adams. His blistering rhetoric inspired local silversmith, Paul Revere, to create one of the most iconic and explosive etchings of our history, which shows lines of British soldiers firing on obedient colonial subjects.

It is also fueled hatred of British rule in many patriotic people across all the colonies. It spurred organizations such as The Sons of Liberty, which were the first soldiers against the Crown who escalated our desire for freedom through such acts as the Boston tea party.

In reply, the King outlawed printing or posting of any material detrimental to the Crown.

Creating the narrative to fit the rebellion

In defiance, and in order to fuel the fires of independence, Adams, and others, continued to post their version of events on billboards across Boston, that reached all 13 colonies.  This fictitious retelling of facts, to suit the needs of rebellion, became a fundamental core principle of American independence, and was etched in stone, becoming an important part of our First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

That principle has been at the center of every activity conducted by our federal government ever since its inception.

Our first international war, against the Muslim potentates of the Barbary Coast who were seizing American ships and turning our sailors into slaves because America didn’t pay jizya (tribute) to them, was fomented by our press, including Benjamin Franklin.

Note, President Obama was right when he said that Muslims have always influenced America, ever since its inception; only it has always been a negative influence.

Every war we have ever fought has been instigated by our press skewering events to fit their desired wants.

From ‘go west young man’ to ‘Remember the Maine,’ America has been directed in some form or another by our “Fifth Estate,” the fourth and unelected branch of government.

When that influence became so strong that it hurt our world standing at the close of the 19th Century, it became known as ‘yellow journalism ‘ and was condemned to the point that a code of ethics was instituted within the journalistic profession. That code withheld the standards of professionalism until the Vietnam war, where those standards began to slip.

19th Century Yellow Journalism is now Fake News

That slippage relegated to the point we find ourselves in today, where all professionalism has been forgotten, by many, who wish to impose their beliefs on the rest of us. That total lack of standards happened when President Trump was elected in 2016. Ever since then new journalism, which I call, ‘pink journalism, ‘ was codified by some news organizations across the country.

Pink journalism became the new operating standards at iconic news organizations like “The Washington Post,” “The New York Times, ” “NBC News,” “CNN,” and many other mainstream media. In their obsession to undermine President Trump, they removed all standards of journalism, allowing unauthenticated information, statements, and rumors to be written as facts. They also intentionally withhold information that demonstrates Trump’s effectiveness as the leader he is.

President Trump calls it ‘fake news.’

Indeed it is fake news, but that fake news is protected by our Constitution. Just as is our right to keep and bear arms. While many feel that something should be done to stop fake news, it turns out that it is as American as mom’s apple pie. What needs to be done is that we must shine a light on the fake news through other means, such as through news outlets like CDN and others, while encouraging our profession to reestablish standards.

After President Trump is reelected in 2020, this writer believes that our press corps will regain some of its sanity, especially if Trump wins in a landslide. Until then expect the most outrageous behavior by the mainstream media and Democrats to try to sway the results of the election.

When doubting that good will prevail from all the blather that we are expected to swallow from the radical left right now, remember the words of one of our greatest Presidents, Ronald Reagan, “Americans will always do the right thing.” Fake news only wins when good people don’t know the truth.

After all, what is news? It is nothing if not reported. Fake news is not reporting the truth.

Lead Image: Photo by Cameron Casey from Pexels

Joseph Ragonese

Joseph Ragonese is a veteran of the United States Air Force, a retired police officer, has a degree in Criminal Justice, a businessman, journalist, editor, publisher, and fiction author. His last book, “The Sword of Mohammad,” can be purchased at in paperback or kindle edition.