By Hannah Kirk
David McCraw compared journalism and news media to a car crash Wednesday night during his lecture at Marist College. McCraw said, “Attention is rewarded, not quality, not truth, attention. And the car crash is going to get attention.”
He continued to make the point that people only want to know about the most compelling things that are happening—which does not transition well into the media, as society has accepted the presence of fake news.
Wednesday, September 13, David McCraw, the Deputy General Counsel at the New York Times came to Marist College to speak about “fake news” and falsifying the truth in media. “I hope we can look together to agree on facts but have different opinions about those facts,” McCraw told the filled Nelly Goletti Theatre.
Prior to becoming the Deputy General Counsel at the New York Times, McCraw was a professor of journalism at Marist from 1981 to 1992, while pursuing a degree in law.
McCraw continuously came back to the idea of freedom of speech, and the protection of the first amendment. “What can be done about fake news?” McCraw asked, “There was really more serious reflection about the importance as free press.”
McCraw compared the path the United States is taking with freedom of the press to the European System.
McCraw summarized a Supreme Court case in 2012 that put into question the role the government should play when it comes to lying. Xavier Alvarez was known for lying and was brought to court when he began telling people he has received a military medal, which is a federal misdemeanor under the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. The Supreme Court decided it was not the government’s business to step in when people are lying. Therefore, that has allowed for it to become easier for people to put out fake news and falsified information into the media.
“When we face fake news, hate speech, online bullying, right to be forgotten,” McCraw said. “It is tempting to ask the question if those supreme court decisions work if we need more supreme court regulation.”
The world is rapidly changing, even from 2012, so at what point does “fake news” become illegal? When it is libelf or poses a threat to a person’s reputation, it does, however, it has become increasingly hard to sue for libel because of free speech and the laws put into place, or repealed, by the Supreme Court—he explained
Manqoba Katane ‘20 attended this lecture, agreed with the decision made by the Supreme Court. Katane said, “The act of one falsely claiming to possess an award bears no malice on any other individual nor does it limit anyone else’s ability to exercise their constitutional rights and so criminalising it is not necessary.” McCraw also cited his belief that Baby Boomers are more susceptible to believing fake news than Millennials are.
If there should be an end to this said epidemic, McCraw said, it is our responsibility to check the information we are reading, “If we are going to get back to separating the fake from the real, it is going to take time.”