Editorial roundup

The Columbus Dispatch, May 12

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump May 9:

The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?

It’s hard to hear the incessant cries of “Fake news!” from President Donald Trump without being reminded of the playground taunts, “It takes one to know one!” or “I know you are, but what am I?”

Now there is new evidence that suggests some truth to the long-festering allegation that Trump benefited from actual fake news in his 2016 election over former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton.

Three Ohio State University professors have released findings of research exploring why a significant portion of voters who had backed Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 did not support the party’s candidate, Clinton, four years later.

The trio — Paul Beck and Richard Gunther, political science professors emeritus, with Erik Nisbet, associate professor — polled 1,600 voters, including about 600 Obama supporters, asking 281 questions in an internet survey from Dec. 5, 2016, through Jan. 6, 2017.

The breadth of the survey allowed the researchers to analyze various impacts on the respondents’ 2016 votes for president. First, they learned that 23 percent of the former Obama supporters did not vote for Clinton, with about 10 percent casting Trump votes. Then they were able to compare and contrast factors such as voters’ gender, age, race, education, ideology and political tendencies in what’s known as multiple regression analysis.

Respondents were asked about three specific false statements — two negative about Clinton and one positive about Trump — that were disseminated primarily through social media and some broadcast news outlets, not reported by major networks or newspapers.

After accounting for other influences, the researchers found 89 percent of those who didn’t believe any of the three statements supported Clinton, while just 17 percent of those who believed two or all three of the statements stayed with Clinton. Given close results in battleground states, that kind of impact could have contributed to Clinton’s loss in Electoral College results, the researchers conclude.

Here’s what we conclude:

? Actual fake news comes from fake sources with agendas. Newspapers like this one follow high journalistic standards for pursuing objective, verifiable facts. And if mistakes are made by legitimate news outlets, they are quickly corrected.

? Relying on and sharing fake news is a dangerous practice, especially if it makes a difference in how voters decide between candidates.

? Being unable to distinguish legitimate journalism from fake news is even more dangerous. If you can’t tell how a story was sourced and verified, it’s probably not true.

? Purveyors of fake news are quick to accuse others of the practice. …

Online: https://bit.ly/2rFPTEz