Central Connecticut State University professor Ned Lamont defined fake news as an obvious and deliberate lie Thursday night, arguing that while it might seem that fake news is a relatively new phenomenon in the digital age, it has existed quite extensively throughout history.
Lamont, in addition to being a professor of philosophy and political science, is also the acting chairman of Lamont Digital Systems, a privately held company that invests in new media start-ups. Lamont discussed the impact of falsified journalism and agenda-pushing in an evening lecture, “Fake News & Real Wars.”
The low turnout of the talk made for a more intimate session and discussion.
Lamont opened with the argument that “truth and credibility are what makes America great,” contrasting with today’s politicians who frequently operate under the creation of their own facts.
Lamont backed this claim that “fake news has been with us for many a year” by referencing historical turning points in which the news was directly involved in instigating the United States’ involvement in wars.
Starting with the Iraq War, Lamont explained how it was marketed to spark a sense of urgency among Americans with the use of the term “weapons of mass destruction.” Upon further investigation by the United Nations, it was found that no such weapons existed in the hands of our enemies, thus making the war pointless, Lamont said.
When asked to speak on the role of big business and corporations in mainstream media and how that obstructs or corrupts the reality of what is being reported, Lamont responded by saying “I’m not worried,” and mentioned how hyperlocal blogs, newspapers and informal outlets such as Twitter, which are free from a corporate agenda, serve as surrogates for news.
Lamont proceed to articulate how the public once started with perhaps thousands of local newspapers, then progressed to three dominate mainstream media networks. America is now in a situation where social media has taken a hold on the news world, Lamont said.
One of the attendees of the talk, Lisa Taylor, a creative writing professor who mainly teaches at Nichols College, as well as one class at Eastern Connecticut State University, said she enjoyed the talk.
“I thought it was very good,” Taylor said. “I was really impressed with his grasp on history.”
Taylor appreciated that Lamont put his argument into a historical perspective and articulated the importance of active versus passive learning as a way to prepare students for today’s bombardment of fake news.
Another attendee of the talk, anthropology graduate student Jordan Kiper, whose research centers on the anthropology of religion, violence and human rights, welcomed Lamont’s historical framework.
“The historical approach he took was nice, and as a student, it was helpful working backwards and seeing the connections in the historical patterns of fake news,” Kiper said.
Taylor Mayes is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.