Although evangelist and Samaritan's Purse president Franklin Graham agrees the United States needs "a free press," he said he believes we "also need an honest press." However, given current tumultuous cultural concerns, ensuring the same definition is being applied to the term "free press" is warranted.
Traditionally, "free press" has meant press not restricted or controlled by government censorship regarding politics or ideology.
Other terms surfacing now within President Donald Trump's administration, such as alternative facts, conspiracy theories, talk stories, conflicting viewpoints or news with agendas, seemed to have muddied the news water to new extremes. As Bill Pollanger responded back to Graham, "I will listen to a news reporter, NOT a news commentator. They stink." At the essence of debate about news should be questions about whether information shared is someone's 'opinion,' versus whether it was stated as 'facts backed by sources or cited data.'
In an era of information overload and unprecedented access to news and knowledge, some believe humans collective ability to critically assess information is starting to falter. The Guardian just reported on Yale University research that assessed how humans make judgments about whether to accept what is read. Interestingly, the study focused on the "curse of knowledge," which reflected the concept that if one thought they already knew the answer to a question, that same person would inflate the estimate of how many other people knew the same answer to that question. The original findings of this research were that people "seem to put a pause on their critical faculties when presented with explanations that sound neuroscientific, and are therefore more likely to accept them as correct."
So, through what filters are people consuming news? Many say it should more than simply things one doesn't want to hear.
"I know several members of the media personally, and can say that some are extremely honest and seek the truth. But, unfortunately, that's not the norm today," Graham posted on his Facebook page.
Without defining what about and without citing specific news outlets, Graham went on to accuse news media of "lying," and of "creating fake news."
"Fake news is nothing new -- it was going on in the Bible," posted Graham.
"When Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was placed in the tomb, He said He would rise in three days. The Pharisees had guards assigned to watch the tomb, and on the third day an angel from heaven came and rolled the stone away. The Lord Jesus walked out of that tomb. The guards reported this to the religious leaders who instructed them that if anyone asked, they were to say that Jesus' supporters had come and taken the body. It was fake news to serve their own agenda."
Graham said he believes untruths, such as what he claims to be seeing currently, "can be a threat to our democracy."
He encourages media members to do what the Bible says to do: "You shall not circulate a false report" (Exodus 23:1), and be truthful-you can never go wrong with that. When I was a little boy my mother told me to "tell the truth, even if it hurts."
Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and author on syndicated news and opinion website Breitbart, told CNN this month that the administration will continue using the term "fake news" until the media "understands" what he called a "monumental desire of the majority of media and pollsters to attack the president is wrong." Of Hungarian ancestry, Gorka was born and grew up in the United Kingdom, lived in Hungary from 1992 to 2008, and as of 2012 is a naturalized American citizen. Trump and his spokespeople repeatedly have been accused of labeling information as fake news, just to discredit mainstream outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times, often offering no evidence to back up disputes with those outlets' stories.
But fake news has a real meaning: deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public, said media columnist Margaret Sullivan. She points to examples such as: The one falsely claiming Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, or the one alleging without basis that Hillary Clinton would be indicted just before the election. She said it is time to put the tainted term of "fake news" out of its misery, and end such polarized media.