Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
One of the major themes of the 2016 election was the rise of fake news. As the Trump administration cited "alternative facts," and politicians accused their opponents of inventing reality, some people had a hard time knowing what sources they could trust.
Websites like Breitbart or Alex Jones' Info Wars thrived in this culture of confusion. On his show, Jones promotes conspiracy theories, such as the outrageous suggestions that the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings were staged or that 9/11 was an inside job. Breitbart writes about debunked, baseless claims, such as that former President Barack Obama supported al-Qaida and that Hillary Clinton and other major Democrats were part of a 'pedophilia ring'.
While these sites do hold some influence over a select minority, any quick survey of this media by a reasonably rational and well-informed person would expose the idiocy and ridiculousness of their claims. On the other hand, those who are not well-informed could fall victim to believing the outright lies they espouse.
Perhaps even more dangerous than the outright slander is media that paints itself as rational to obscure subversive agendas. These media outlets, such as PragerU, support half-truths: things that sound feasible but fail under scrutinization.
For example, PragerU calls all mainstream media "leftist propaganda" and discredits fact-checked and source-based outlets like CNN and ABC. Andrew Klavan, a representative for PragerU in their videos, explains that this is so because many editors, journalistic donors and reporters are Democrats. This ad hominem attack is naive at best and dangerous at worst.
By discrediting all media and saying no news can be objective, they invite anyone to nullify reality. According to Klavan, I can choose to believe only facts I like because all media is untrustworthy, and I can live in the reality I choose rather than the one that actually exists. It then gets worse, as Klavan attempts to cites an example of the media's falseness.
He claims that mainstream media will show a cop shooting a black person as representative of the norm when it isn't as prevalent an issue in reality. But he's the one delivering misleading information. There are more white than black people in America, so there are quantitatively more white people shot by police, but by percentage, white people are less likely than black people to be killed by police.
Over the past few years PragerU has grown in popularity. Because the format of the videos make the news digestible, they offer an appealing and easy way to access news. However, we cannot let ourselves be seduced by dangerous alternatives to vetted news. We must fact-check our sources continuously and vigorously. We need to hold all fake news accountable — not just the obvious conspiracy theorists, but also the subversive outlets with biased agendas.
Moshe Klein is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.