The Very Real Costs of Fake News
Posted by: Shyam Chidamber, Jan 31, 2016
Every long time DC resident has a favorite place for great pizza – and luckily DC is blessed to have many excellent non-chain pizza joints. Comet Ping Pong with its eclectic décor of ping pong tables and great wood fired pies is one of my favorites. It made local and national headlines recently for a very different reason.
Social media abounded with “news stories” of a child abduction ring operated by Sen. Hilary Clinton using this restaurant as a front for these illegal and heinous activities. CPP heroically dealt with the avalanche of attention and eager, loyal patrons helped to douse the flames of a clearly provable falsehood. The issue seemed to be subsiding until a young father of two from South Carolina drove up 350 miles to DC and brought an assault rifle into the premises – wanting to “Rambo” style rescue kids from the deadly Clinton-CPP child abuse ring. There was a stand off with the police and luckily no one including the perp was hurt. We locals breathed a sigh of relief and muttered curses about insane, or at least slightly deranged “low information” voters and their paranoid fantasies about the Clintons.
CPP will no doubt regain normalcy and DC patrons will continue to enjoy its great pizza with additional toppings of notoriety and gossip from the fractious 2016 election. But we are concerned about normalizing behavior and action that springs from irrationality or prejudice. Tolerating “fake news” is not an option. It needs to be stamped out. Facts matter. They are the basis for rational thought, scientific progress and advancing the human enterprise; as citizens, employees and consumers we need to exercise critical thinking at all times. Not doing so has dire consequences. Now more than ever.
Original Story: “In Washington Pizzeria Attack, Fake News Brought Real Guns” NYT, Dec 5, 2016