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Some critics have maintained the West is committing cultural suicide while revolting against what is real with an escape into fantasy.

I have seen non-issues turned into issues, cowards turned into heroes and villains into saints. We talk about “fake news” as if it is something new. It isn’t.

When talking to a group, I used to ask people to raise a hand if they were on site when something happened that made the news. There were always a number of hands that went up. Then I would ask if they recognized what they experienced when looking at the “news.” All the hands would go down. I finally stopped asking this question because I always got the same answer.

I’ve watched demonstrations forming. A truck would arrive with signs that were mass-produced. Several buses then brought in the paid “demonstrators” — with the correct ratio of minorities, women and children. The local media arrived after everything was set to go. No use wasting time. The demonstration would then appear in the “news” as if it was real. Everyone there, including the media and the police, knew it was all theater.

In other cases with which I was familiar, the media turned a troubled woman into a national figure. She claimed an organization the media believed could be made into a villain had denied her right to support a cause the media was pushing. Perfect. Except it wasn’t true, and the media had to know they were dealing with an unstable person. They literally staged events to turn her into a sympathetic character. Later she ran for president and was even invited to speak at the University of Northern Iowa. Several years afterward, she cavalierly admitted with a shrug the organization had expelled her for reasons unrelated to her rights.

UNI has lots of students from other countries. Modern people travel a lot. Most of what we are supposed to believe about other countries, especially our “enemies,” doesn’t match very well with what these people will tell you.

Do Palestinians hate America? Are average people in Iran radical religionists? Does Russia actually have a reason for being paranoid? What game is the North Korean leadership actually playing?

The price of gasoline went up dramatically right before the election with dire warning it would exceed $100 a barrel. Almost by magic, it has now dropped below pre-election levels. According to the publication World Oil, there are only three men in the world who now control the price of oil. Trump, Putin and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The over-the-top media attention given to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis can be seen in this context.

The point here is not conspiracies. It is the propagation of news that really isn’t what the average person believes is news. Certain agendas drive the content and slant of the media. The only thing new here is a president, in full gauche demeanor, labeling it for what it is by calling it “fake news.”

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the university.

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