By Haddon Libby

Is the news that we receive real, fake or in liberal use of alternate truths aka lies?  We know (or should know) that most of the news that we receive is biased toward the opinion of the news outlets’ ownership, management or talent. 

This week, let’s take a test to assess your ability to spot the true news story versus the fake or alternative truth one:

1)  CNN reported that Senator John McCain slammed President Trump’s attacks on the media and said that dictators “get started by suppressing free press.”

2) Fox News reported that Senator Rand Paul stated that the United States “is lucky John McCain’s not in charge.”

3) The Washington Post reported that the State Department’s “entire senior management team just resigned” and was “part of an ongoing mass exodus…who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”

4) CNN reported that all politically appointed officers of the State Department were asked by the Trump administration to resign.

5) The New York Times published an article stating that the Trump Administration had “purged” climate change references from the White House website.

6) Time magazine reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

7) The Associated Press reported that President Trump had talked to Mexico’s President Pena Nieto about sending in troops to deal with Mexico’s “bad hombre” problem.

8) TMZ and BET reported that the Trump Administration was renaming Black History Month to National African American History Month.

9) CNN reported that Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” that the President’s inaugural dance was to her fathers’ “My Way”. 

10) The Associated Press, CNBC, CNN and the Washington Post reported that the GOP was rolling back background check rules on gun ownership.

So how did you do?  The answer key is at the bottom of this article.  Three of these reports were accurate while the rest were fabricated.

As shown here, consistently objective, unbiased journalism by the national news outlets seems to be a thing of the past as each outlet fights to get the highest ratings possible in order to justify their ad rates.  The best thing that we can do to end this move toward sensationalism and untruths in news is to turn them off.  Do not watch.  Pretend that they do not exist.  Do not repost sensational news stories on Facebook as there is a pretty reasonable chance that it is untrue.  Our best way to resist this movement away from accurate, unbiased news is to pretend that it is not there.  Even if their reports make you feel good about your opinions, much of what they report is wrong and only fuels the great polarization happening amongst all of us.  Without our attention, their ratings will go down and, hopefully, they will change their approach. 

When we look at total average television viewership throughout the day, Fox News leads with 1.8 million viewers followed by CNN at 887,000 and MSNBC at 786,000.  The coveted 25-54 year old demographic represented 40% of viewers.  In a country of 330 million people, that is not a lot. 

During the 8pm to 11pm time period that is the most lucrative for networks, Fox News’ ratings rise to 3 million viewers, MSNBC has 1.4 million and CNN 1.3 million with 35% of all viewers between 25 and 54 years of age.  Collectively, less than one in fifty Americans watch these biased cable news networks.

The major network nightly newscasts do much better.  ABC averages 9.1 million viewers followed closely by NBC with 9 million and CBS at 7.4 million meaning that 7.5% of all Americans watch these outlets.  Only 17% of these viewers are under 55 years of age.

Answers: 1) True; 2) True; 3) False; 4) True; 5) False; 6) False; 7) False; 8) False (Obama did); 9) False; 10) False.

Haddon Libby is an Investment Advisor and Managing Partner of Winslow Drake Investment Management and can be reached at 760.449.6349 or HLibby@WinslowDrake.com. 

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