It takes one to know one, apparently.
On Friday, CBS News published a gallery — popular among so-called “click bait” sites looking to boost page views — exposing what the network considers “fake news” sites.
CBS named 21 sites under a section titled, “Don’t get fooled by these fake news sites.”
Most of them are ones the vast majority of people have probably never heard of nor visited, the one exception being InfoWars.com.
For example, CBS felt the need to alert readers to the fact that a story about Donald Trump naming Chris Christie to the “Supreme Food Court” was not real. (Who knew?!?)
Strangely, but not surprisingly, CBS itself was missing from the list, as the network had its own fake news scandal in 2004 involving blatantly forged documents.
The Media Research Center reported that year:
On September 8, 2004, Dan Rather cited “exclusive information, including documents” to justify major CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes stories alleging that George W. Bush shirked his duties when he was in the Texas Air National Guard in the 1960s and 1970s. Within a few hours of those documents being posted on CBS News’s Web site, however, typography experts voiced skepticism that the documents had actually originated with their alleged author and Bush’s former commanding officer, the late Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian. As the evidence mount, Rather stubbornly clung to the idea that his story was bulletproof, and he derided critics as partisans and Internet rumormongers.
The forged documents were debunked by a blogger Charles F. Johnson, whose work would likely be quickly dismissed as “fake news” by CBS today.
He pointed out the font used in the document did not exist at the time and was, in fact, part of Microsoft Word.
The scandal was so outrageous, four CBS employees were axed from the “news” network.
CBS reported in early 2005:
Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service.
The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.
Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.
“We deeply regret the disservice this flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday report did to the American public, which has a right to count on CBS News for fairness and accuracy,” said CBS President Leslie Moonves.
Nevertheless, CBS is warning readers about “fake news” sites.
Referring to a story about Donald Trump winning the popular vote, CBS “reported,” “The egregious error spurred Merrimack College communications professor Melissa Zimdars to compile a list of fake news sites. She told CBS News she wanted to ‘help my students navigate an increasingly complex and questionable media landscape.’”
For those keeping score, CBS wasn’t on her list, either.