WASHINGTON - There were some tumultuous moments for Donald Trump as he sparred with the media during his first news conference since July.
Trump refused to allow CNN reporter Jim Acosta to ask a question and instead told him, “You are fake news.” This comes after some media outlets such as CNN and BuzzFeed reported on documents that contained unproven information alleging close coordination between Trump's inner circle and Russia as well as allegations of unusual sexual activities by Trump.
“Fake news” has become a buzz phrase that has almost become synonymous with the 2016 presidential election. Fake news is made up stories that are written and packaged to look like credible journalistic content. It has become such a large issue that Facebook even agreed to put in features to help patrol and report fake news circulating on the social media website recently.
But the president-elect accusing CNN of reporting fake news and discounting BuzzFeed's publishing of the salacious document is alarming to the journalism industry as a whole.
There are calls from professionals in the news industry to put the term to rest and caution people to look at where the information is coming from before calling a story fake.
“BuzzFeed has a lot of cat videos and other weird posts up there, but they have an army of really great journalists that they have hired from other places that are really respectful and responsible,” said Andrew Seaman, ethics committee chair for the Society of Professional Journalists. “They made a decision that I disagree with, but it doesn't mean that the reporting is fake.”
There is also the issue of people hearing what they want to hear. Ethan Porter, an assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, said some people are inclined to believe only the stories that align with their political views.
“We have access to news all the time and we are so committed to our parties of choice that we try to marry the two,” he said. “We will say, ‘Okay, the stories that I believe and the stories that I'm going to share with my friends and family, those are going to be stories that reflect the most well upon my party and its candidates.'”
The National Press Club is also concerned about Trump’s use of the phrase “fake news.” National Press Club president Thomas Burr said in a statement:
"With the proliferation of false news stories dotting the Internet, it is important for American leaders to discern the difference and not intentionally conflate misleading and fake stories from dogged and investigative news that is fundamental to our country.
"It is dangerous and unhealthy to declare a news item as 'fake news' to distract from facts that you may not like or don't favor your perspective. Our incoming president must treat the news media as the vital cornerstone of our democracy that it is. To label something as 'fake' in an effort to undermine news outlets endangers the trust granted journalists by the public and is antithetical to our country's values.
"To be sure, news organizations make honest mistakes and when they learn they've done so, they correct them. That is entirely different from web sites that deliberately disseminate false information. The president-elect appears to be conflating the two in an attempt to discredit news organizations whose coverage displeases him. Doing so may foment a dangerous disrespect for journalists who, however flawed, are merely doing their best to inform the public. Presidents shouldn't get to pick and choose which reporters' questions they will answer based on what news outlet for which they work. Doing so now is inappropriate and will do unprecedented damage to our democracy."