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Washington Post, State Dept. 'Fake News' Lists Threaten Freedom of Speech in US

The lists of alleged "fake news" sites being disseminated by the Washington Post and other corporate media outlets as well as bureaucrats at the US Department of State are a direct threat to continued freedom of speech in the United States, US analysts told Sputnik.

Newsweek magazine is displayed on a shelf at a news stand at South Station in Boston, Wednesday, May 5, 2010. The Washington Post Co. is putting Newsweek up for sale in hopes that another owner can figure out how to stem losses at the 77-year-old weekly magazine. - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — According to Beau Grosscup, California State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science, the lists of fake new promoted by The Washington Post and State Department "are direct threats to free speech and critical thinking and independent journalism."

On Thursday, defeated US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned about the dangers of fake news. In a call for censorship, Clinton insisted that leaders in both the private and public sectors needed to aggressively expand their efforts to crack down on alleged fake news sites — necessarily involving independent and alternative media — in order to protect democracy in the United States.

US analysts reacted with alarm to possible congressional allocations for State Department and other bureaucrats to determine what is fake news, especially given the fact that the now discredited corporate media, in collusion with the establishment, have knowlingly spread fake news for years.

Grosscup pointed out that the US corporate mainstream media had systematically disseminated fake news on behalf of both, the US government and big business for generations.

"As powerful corporate and government institutions long in the business of ‘fake news’ on behalf of powerful people and institutions, the hypocrisy and political nature of their effort [to accuse independent news sites] is self-evident," Grosscup said.

The US government and major corporations had constantly sought to discredit or make invisible "non-establishment" news outlets and investigative journalists especially of the political Left, Grosscup recalled.

The new blacklists went one step further in narrowing the scope of "responsible journalism" by institutional fiat, Grosscup explained.

"Unlike fake news lists produced by individual citizens, due to their corporate/government power base, these essentially secret ‘official black lists’ have instant credibility to many citizens," he warned.

The new blacklists now being circulated were products of powerful self-anointed guardians of constitutional freedoms and so-called "responsible journalism" who had long sought to control critical discourse, Grosscup observed.

"Their effect is immediate and unless challenged, will further escalate the assault on what is left of North American democracy," he predicted.

Pittsburgh University Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner recommended that clear thinking and sensible US policy on the fake news issue should be based on some simple premises:

"Social media, in functional terms, are no different from the telephone. They are a neutral instrument that should be treated as a public utility," Brener stated.

A copy of Newsweek is seen at Joe's Smoke, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Portland, Maine. Newsweek announced Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 that it will end its print publication after 80 years and shift to an all-digital format in early 2013. Its last U.S. print edition will be its Dec. 31 issue. The paper version of Newsweek is the latest casualty of a changing world where readers get more of their information from websites, tablets and smartphones. - Sputnik International
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Grosscup recommended that technical means should in no way be compromised because of its potential use in criminal activity. He also noted that communications between two or more parties were no business of anyone, least of which State Department or other government bureaucrats, except those participating — unless they were illegal.

"If party 'X' doesn't like the communications they receive, they should have the means to shut it off [through] unlisted phone numbers [or] putting down the receiver," Brenner said.

It was up to public authorities to determine whether illegal activity had taken place — not Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg or any other party, Grosscup cautioned.

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