In one of the episodes of the critically-acclaimed HBO television drama The Wire, the city editor Augustus Haynes tries to make a case to his managing editor for not running a story that has just come in. His concern: “Our job is to report the news, not to manufacture it.” Batting against the publication of the report, Haynes adds, “It (manufactured news) always starts with something true, something confirmed.”
In the episode, the managing editor cited circumstantial and not conclusive evidence to push for the publication of that particular story. However, websites that run fake news do little to investigate a rumour or an unverified claim if it confirms their biases. Sometimes they might add fiction to existing facts to spice up the story, or so it seems in the case of stories that we tried to verify.
Here we present fake or disputed stories from the three websites YKA investigated to understand just how fake news gets manufactured:
What Was Published: TheLotPot claimed to do a ‘big expose’ on how Arnab Goswami was not allowed to enter the Times Now studio on Arvind Kejriwal’s directions. “It was a day after Kejriwal announced his Dharna on Jantar Mantar against Note Ban and Arnab Goswami was reporting against…Times Now did not let Arnab Goswami enter his own studio and the man behind it was Arvind Kejriwal,” the report said.
Source: It is true that Goswami has claimed that he was denied entry into his studio just days before he left his job at Times Now. It is also true that the Jantar Mantar report in question was aired before that. However, even Goswami hasn’t alleged that it was the Delhi CM who had manoeuvred the journalist’s exit.
The only source provided for the allegation is a clip of a video now not available on YouTube. It is possible that the video is a portion of an interview of Goswami at a News24 event. Goswami has never alleged that Kejriwal was the person behind his ouster.
What Was Published: Newspur published a report with a visual claiming that Narendra Modi said, “The army will be given the freedom to on-the-spot shoot anybody hoisting a Pakistan or ISIS flag”. The report claims that Modi made this comment to a soldier when the soldier asked him what he should do with ‘anti-nationals’. The identity of the soldier, the place, or the date the statement was missing from the report.
Source: There is little that can be verified in this report. Army Chief Bipin Rawat, however, did make a statement in February on those displaying ISIS and Pakistan flags in Kashmir, while paying tribute to security personnel in New Delhi.
“We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them. They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue,” Rawat had said.
The Prime Minister was also present at the event but isn’t reported to have made any such statement.
What Was Published: “A survey done by the BBC in 2017 named the top 10 corrupt, thieving, robbing parties, where Rahul and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress found the fourth place,” the Newspur report says. It also says that the results were obtained in a “global survey” done by “Britain’s media agency BBC”.
Source: The list presented in this report is taken from a blogpost by BBC News Point, a website whose name bears close resemblance to UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) . That’s where the resemblance ends though. While BBC News Point doesn’t claim any relation to the real BBC, like Newspur, many people cited the story as a BBC story. The blogpost in question just published a list of parties off their own accord. The source or basis of the list presented isn’t provided by the blogpost anywhere. Needless to say, the BBC hasn’t published any list or survey either.
What Was Published: This is a classic case of using fabricated news, and then using it to generate more fabricated stuff. The ‘opinion’ article argues that Nostradamus had predicted that Narendra Modi would be the next Prime Minister of India, whimsically co-relating it with a fabricated prediction attributed to the French seer on the fall of the twin towers.
Source: Purportedly an email hoax that went viral in the aftermath of 9/11. The passage on the attack attributed to Nostradamus is text concocted with fragments from different passages by Nostradamus and additional words that Nostradamus did not write in those passages.