Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fake News

Everyone has heard of the notion of "Fake News" - reporting things that never happened. 

But I would like to suggest that even real news is, in a sense, fake news. 


Let us take the great Chillul Hashem that came out of Lakewood recently. I don't know who did exactly what [because it is lashon hara and I try very hard not to speak, read or listen to lashon hara. But I have seen that people are talking about it] but apparently some frum Jews are accused of stealing from the government. 

This is "fake news".


Because it is MISLEADING. It makes people think that frum Jews are thieves. There are 60,352 people in Lakewood. Only about 25 were arrested. That means that 60,327 out of 60,352 were NOT arrested and we can reasonably assume that they are perfectly honest. 

If anyone has a wallet and it is almost Shabbos and needs to leave it with someone  - we would all prefer to leave it with a frum Jew.

The reality is that there are over 6,000 wonderful people who are sitting and learning Torah day and night in Lakewood. They are honest, upright, kind, generous people. THAT is not being reported in the news despite that the fact that they are the rule and these bad apples who were arrested are the exception. Why doesn't the news report all of the great chiddushei torah that came out of Lakewood?? In order to get into the the newspaper a person has to do something wrong. Thieves, murderers, pedophiles and other evil people make the news. The good people almost never make it [that is why you are never in the newspaper:-)]. 

So of course it is a COLLOSSAL Chilul Hashem for Jews to be caught stealing. But we must not forget what the rule is and what the exception is. 

Another example: A small handful of disenchanted formerly Chasidishe Jews  have written "tell-alls" about their lives. I have never read any of these books but many others have and they get a lot of press. Again - "Fake News". The vast majority of Chasidishe Yidden are very happy with who they are and their lifestyle. They happily learn, daven, keep Taharas Hamishpacha etc. etc. But they don't go on the Internet and publicize how happy they are. They don't write books about how fulfilling their live are. So the impression people get from the media is that the Charedi-Chasidic worlds are crazy and dysfunctional. 

Not so.

There are many more examples. Keep the principal in mind - the goal of the news is to attract attention in any way possible. It is often twisted, sensationalized, based on speculation etc.etc. One rule of journalism: When a dog bites a man, that is not news. But when a man bites a dog - THAT is news. The weirder - the better.  

The reality is far, far different than portrayed on news outlets. It is more normal and often much brighter and positive.