New CA bills push “fake news” education


In the wake of a turbulent election season and a disturbing new study on the credulity of many political news consumers, a handful of California legislators have put forward new bills designed to ensure the state’s public schools make students aware that not everything purporting to be factual reportage is as true or unbiased as it seems. Although “fake news” has swiftly become a recognized problem, it has also become a political football — a label with which to swiftly discredit opponents or undermine criticism. 

Wave of worry

“A bill from Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, will ask the state to adopt high school history curricula based on a recent national intelligence assessment that Russia tried to influence the election by producing fake news and hacking into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. “Another bill, introduced last week by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would require schools to teach children ‘media literacy’ — including how to tell the difference between ‘fake news’ and real news.”

“During the final, critical months of the 2016 presidential campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax websites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions and comments on social media,” SB135 read, according to the paper. 

Additionally, lawmakers will consider a companion “fake news” bill, AB155, introduced by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, which “would require the state to establish curriculum standards and frameworks to teach ‘civic online reasoning’ to middle- and high-schoolers,” as the Washington Post reported.

“Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed, but information shared on the internet is disseminated rapidly and often without editorial oversight, making it easier for fake news to reach a large audience,” his bill suggested. “When fake news is repeated, it becomes difficult for the public to discern what’s real,” Gomez said in a statement, according to the paper. “These attempts to mislead readers,” he warned, “pose a direct threat to our democracy.”

From bias to ignorance

The line has blurred in recent years between factual reporting and deliberately misleading or partial content, with partisans on opposite ends of the ideological divide hurling contending accusations. In addition to fears that outside propaganda could impact voting patterns at home, the credibility of both mainstream and alternative outlets — online and off — has come under question.

So too has the responsiveness of American schools and universities to the problem and its sources, which reach deeper than partisan preferences or agendas. “In November, a Stanford University study found that 82 percent of high school students surveyed could not distinguish between a reported news story and an advertisement,” the Guardian observed. “During last year’s election, rumors and false reports spread widely, and in the aftermath of the vote partisans began to accuse each other of propagating ‘fake news.'” In introducing his legislation, Gomez invoked the Stanford report as reason for action:

“President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump have both denounced ‘fake news’ in recent weeks, to different purposes. In November, Obama warned that democracies would be threatened by the spread of misinformation and false reports, and by the discrediting of once trusted news sources. This week, Trump seized on the phrase ‘fake news’ to characterize unsubstantiated allegations about him, blaming BuzzFeed and CNN in particular.”

The debate over what counts as fake news, and who gets to decide, has helped ensure that California’s new bills won’t sail through the Legislature without at least some criticism. State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, for instance, called Levine’s bill “petty” and “showmanship.”

“I’d just be happy if we taught kids how to read and write and do arithmetic,” he told the Mercury News. 


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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 26 January, 2017, 16:28

    Naturally this effort will turn into propaganda from the left. “Rely on reputable sources,” they will say — without questioning the trustworthiness of such sources — like CNN.

    Here’s the latest example of CNN’s “Fake News” Jihad against Trump. It’s a 22 second CNN excerpt that is posted on the CNN website — excerpted from Trump’s 10 minute talk to businessmen.

    In it he says that if the businesses stay in the U.S., they will “pay no tax.” It’s gone viral around the Internet, enraging people thinking that, under Trump, corporations will pay no taxes.

    It’s is an incredible misrepresentation of what Trump said. It’s classic Fake News.

    The dishonesty by CNN is simply breathtaking. Actually Trump was talking in this excerpt about ONLY tariffs — not the corporate income tax or the many other taxes businesses pay.

    As Trump discusses in this 10 minute talk (URL below), there will still be a corporate INCOME tax. Trump DOES indeed plan to reduce the federal corporate income tax from 35% (highest in the WORLD) to about 20%-25% — to more closely align America with the corporate tax rates in other developed countries. This is a widely supported reform — most economists and even some Democrat Congressmen back this corporate tax reduction.

    But what Trump was saying in this video excerpt was that if a company does not leave the country, it will not have to pay TARIFFS when importing goods to America. Well, DUH!! You can verify this by watching the full 10 minute video.

    Just to be clear: I think Trump’s whole idea of imposing 35% tariffs is TERRIBLE economic policy. Most economists agree on this. But the issue here is the intentional misrepresentation by CNN of what Trump was saying.

    When Trump accuses CNN of posting Fake News, this video should be Exhibit A.

    To see the full 10 minute Trump talk to businessmen, go to:

    Reply this comment
  2. Dude
    Dude 26 January, 2017, 16:41

    I have to agree with the author that fake news is a serious problem. I remember the first time I heard a bunch of blatant lies being passed off as truth on MSNBC…”Your premiums will drop by $1,500. Your deductibles will be cut in half. You can keep your policy and your doctor”. What a bunch of horse tihs that was!

    Reply this comment
  3. SDVeteran
    SDVeteran 26 January, 2017, 17:15

    Am I reading this correctly? “A bill from Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, will ask the state to adopt high school history curricula based on a recent national intelligence assessment that Russia tried to influence the election by producing fake news and hacking into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign…” But that is fake news! It’s been shown that the Russian story about hacking Hillary’s email is unproven? And it’s still not known if Russia tried to influence the election? Levine is perpetuating undocumented news and trying to get that into the school system as “real” news. Disgraceful!

    Reply this comment
  4. eck
    eck 26 January, 2017, 18:39

    Marc Levine is a partisan hack. No Russia (some doubt about the accuracy of that) didn’t produce any “fake news”. Only embarrassing (to you-know-who) news by hacking. an idiots e-mail. The truth was “outed”. No question about that. These lefties just won’t come to grips with why they lost. But you can bet “your sweet Bippy”, that in this banana republic state, something like this will pass. Sigh.

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 27 January, 2017, 08:25

    Most of the news we read in the Sacramento Bee or San Francisco Chronicle is fake news at least 99% of it all

    Reply this comment
  6. Queeg
    Queeg 27 January, 2017, 08:55


    Fake news includes fake phrases like congress members saying ” I am on a committee working on that in your behalf.”

    Reply this comment
  7. Sean
    Sean 27 January, 2017, 09:42

    This is disturbing but quite humorous at the same time. The disturbing part is that California’s education system ranks at the bottom nationally so this is a waste of time that could be better spent on improved academic traing. Its humorous because the “fake news” likely has little influence on the voting patterns of young adults. The bigger problem with young adults is their participation rates in elections is abysmal, they already strongly lean liberal and are in a single party state that went 2:1 for HRC. So what the heck, go for it. It won’t make a bit of difference. Democrats need to figure out how to win blue collar votes in fly-over country and this badly misses the mark.

    Reply this comment
  8. Huh
    Huh 27 January, 2017, 13:42

    When did officials change the Oath of office? They are supposed to protect the Constitution, not their party. They are supposed to represent the people, not their party. As far as that goes, how is it even possible to be in office if they don’t take their oath to the Constitution seriously?

    Reply this comment
  9. NormanB
    NormanB 28 January, 2017, 12:35

    Fake news is only possible because of fake education. Our college instructors (outside of the technical fields) know little of logic and critical thinking (meaning ‘can the other side be correct?’)

    Reply this comment
  10. Steele, Ted--Patriot
    Steele, Ted--Patriot 28 January, 2017, 20:05

    Remember when the tea baggers insisted Obama was coming for our guns and death panels were going to for sure kill Grandma? The right is ignorant mostly– sorry— this is how trump won— fake news is part of the regimes strategy

    Reply this comment
    • Dude
      Dude 28 January, 2017, 21:58

      You’re confused, ignorant, or just purposely trying to pass BS off as the truth. The left owns Fake News. This description was given to stories by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and all the other bent to the left “news” organizations. Want proof, watch the YouTube videos of those same outfits from election night.

      Reply this comment
      • Queeg
        Queeg 29 January, 2017, 10:20


        Fake news works…free bees, sinning, coupons, habitually patronizing do nothing congressmen, endorsements by Hollywood idiots, time share pitches, Nigerian phone calls, reverse mortgage hustlers, using home equity to fund creepy charities all work!

        Reply this comment
      • T Ted America
        T Ted America 29 January, 2017, 20:00

        Bwahahahaha— maybe you’ve never seen facebook? Pure tea baggery, of course also Trumpaloopa Russian ones too—- but you probably don’t believe the intel agencies….lmao— have a ball— your fake prsident is making a fool of himself….well,,,,,every single day!

        Reply this comment
  11. Mike
    Mike 29 January, 2017, 19:33

    100 to 1, the Marin county Levine is having an extra-marital affair with a Sonoma county goat, while his spouse is taking the meat puppet of a 7 foot tall high school junior from Richmond. She stars in the new FX show, “The Wives of Marin County.”

    Reply this comment

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Marc LevineJimmy GomezBill Doddfake news

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