I sat and watched the late news on German TV last night....via ZDF. The leading story? Fake news. Of course, they used a lot of graphics of Breitbart....hyping fake news.
So, this morning....I picked up the top ten stories listed out of Europe for Breitbart:
1. REVEALED: Latest Brexit Challenge Launched by Tax Dodge, Pro-EU, Celeb Lawyer. Breitbart took a minimum of three sources (all legit newspapers in the UK) to tell this story of another legal challenge on BREXIT. The new challenge? Well...yeah, the guy is a celebrity lawyer, pro-EU and has had at least one tax run-in. Fake news? No.
2. British PM Crows About Banning Pamela Geller from UK During Pro-Israel Event. What Breitbart did was take a speech reported by a conservative group in the UK, given by the PM (May) and how she hyped up a pro-Israel reporter on "Islamophobia". It was a tit for tat type writing, It does go into detail about this effort to limit any criticism on Islamic stories in the UK. Fake reporting? No.
3. UK Pair Linked to Brussels and Paris Attacks Suspect Jailed. It was a straight up and down story....two guys with terror issues, crimes charged, and they were sentenced on Monday to eight years in prison. No speculation. No real drawn out piece....just the facts over the two guys. Fake news? No.
4. Oxford Students Told to Use ‘Ze’ Instead of ‘He’ or ‘She’. An amusing story. Breitbart picked up a story which started with the Daily Mail. This turned into more of commentary than reporting. So they interviewed a Canadian professor who suggested this wasn't exactly a brilliant idea to start some trend toward new pronouns. Fake news? No.
5. Nativity Scene Could Offend Muslims, Priest Says. The basis for this Breitbart story started out from an Italian newspaper source (legit local paper in the town of the priest). Some local priest commented and a story was written up in Italy (out of a town in the northern part of 70,000 residents)....that some foreigners might be easily offended by nativity scenes. The priest hyped up that no Catholic or Italian should step back from local traditions. Breitbart simply picked up the original story....added commentary by two political folks (one opposing the priest, and one supporting)....and retold the same story. Fake news? No.
6. Calais Child Migrants Are Being Lost to Prostitution and Slavery in the UK. This is a story that Breitbart picked up from the Sunday Times (again, a legit news source). What they get at in the story is that 700-plus kids from the Calais area (the French migrant camp which was recently torn down)....have disappeared more or less from public view, and some charity groups think they've been brought into prostitution and slavery. Of course, there is no proof of what the charity groups suggest. But Breitbart took their comments and simply published them as quotes. There are at least ten facts placed into the story but it revolves around a questionable theme....are the Calais child migrants "lost"? No one....not even legit news organizations or the French government....can answer this. Fake news? It's a news story stuck between fact and fiction. No one can say where the lost kids are.....so they assume the worse.
7. Cologne Ramps up New Year’s Police Presence after Sex Assaults. Breitbart simply took what has been generally reported in the last week for Koln over preparation for the New Year's Eve episode. It's a fact-based story. No hype, just simply what the city and cops have acknowledged in public. Fake news? No.
8. New Catholic ‘Go’ App Locates Nearest Priest for Confession. Breitbart took three sources of information....one of which was a techno-geek site....to tell this simple story. Yes, there's an app to help you find a priest and have a confession done. There's about a dozen facts built into the story, which simply leaves the reader with the idea that the Catholic Church has entered a bold new era. Fake news? No.
9. UKIP Vows to Fight Local Government Union Flag Removal Order. This story starts out at Yourthurrock, an internet news site. They take the basis of the story....where some local council in the UK got into a fight over removing their Union Flag from display. It is a local problem only but has drawn a lot of "fight" from the local community. The word "Nazi" got uttered by some folks who are hyped up over the business. Fake news? No, but it only revolves around one single community.
10.Italian Schoolchildren Put Hitler’s Mein Kampf In Top Ten Favorite Books. So, this story starts out in Italy.....via The Local.IT. They took it from an Italian newspaper. So it is a repeat of a repeat of a repeat. The theme of this story is that Italian school kids were asked about their favorite books, and they put Hitler's Mein Kampf on the list. Naturally, the intellectual folks asking this question and wanting to generate interest in reading.....were upset. True story? A poll was requested, and kids responded. Naturally, I'm guessing the kids were mostly going to pull the leg on the intellectuals and make this more of a joke. Breitbart simply told the raw story itself. If you notice from all of these news groups....none actually went and asked the kids about the book, or posed questions to prove that none had actually read the book. Fake news? Well....a poll was taken, results taken, and end-result reported. It's a stupid story, but it's not fake.
So, for ZDF? To sit and use Breitbart might be a bad move as their chief example. From the roughly twenty stories I read over this morning....I'd say that only two had questionable sources. The rest were legit newspapers or stories. Did half of the stories really qualify to be read? Well....no. If you ask me....half of the twenty stories had entertainment values only. But that's the same issue with ZDF or ARD.....at least half of their stories are filler material or simply entertainment value.
What I would worry about...is that if you bring Breitbart up enough with Germans....that will provoke an curious nature and trigger them into reading some of the stories. They might figure out the whole fake "fake" news story agenda and go back to ZDF/ARD, and ask more questions. You can dig at some fake stories but there's a limit.