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Jamieson Offers New Name for Fake News: ‘Viral Deception’ or VD

On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, proposed a new term for made-up stories or “fake news”.

“I’d like to call them ‘viral deception,’ and I’d like to use the VD acronym, because I’d like to associate it with venereal disease,” Jamieson told host Brian Stelter. “We don’t want to get venereal disease. If you find someone who’s got it, you want to quarantine them and cure them. You don’t want to transmit it. By virtue of saying ‘fake news,’ we ask the question, well, what is real news – and you invite people to label everything they disapprove of ‘fake news.’ As a result, it’s not a useful concept. What are we really concerned about? Deception. And deception of a certain sort that goes viral.” See the discussion:

Jamieson was critical of the use of “argument by anecdote,” when it’s used to exaggerate and overgeneralize the extent of a problem. Such may be the case in President Trump’s highlighting of individuals who have been the victim of crimes committed by people who are in the United States illegally. “The problem is the evidence isn’t consistent with the generalization,” she said. The use of the term “criminal alien” presents a number of issues, she said.

In another segment (below, starting at 1:30), Jamieson said Trump “creates a dilemma for journalists, because ordinarily journalists would say, ‘the President said…’ then would look for the alternative, then would look for the documentation and play through that narrative. But when there’s no proof, journalists have to find a way in the headline to say: ‘Without proof, Trump alleges…’ so that we don’t put in place the allegation as if it has some legitimacy – rather, we should be saying ‘where’s the proof?’ What Trump specializes in is shifting the burden of proof. Making a charge with no evidence and then asking for an investigation shifts the burden of proof – now someone is supposed to disprove an unproven allegation.”