Fake News! Fake News! News that is made up to make something out of nothing or news made up to make someone look bad. However, I take a slightly different view. Yes there is fake news and often it is coming from major news outlets and is found in the way headlines are written or the tone surrounding the actual story which serve to give the reader the idea that the story is not a big deal or a really big deal. It turns what is a real story into one that conveys an immediate bias.
Take this story from the Washington Post yesterday on a House of Representatives Oversight Committee hearing on the worker fraud found in the Federal Patent Office. Here is the headline for the story: "Clash over patent-office fraud a sign of what's to come for federal workers." The lead in says this:
"House Republicans on Wednesday dressed down a top U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official and a union leader for what they called a weak response to reports of time and attendance fraud by patent examiners.
The rebukes, in response to an inspector-general investigation released this summer, may foreshadow things to come with President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress.
Trump and conservatives on Capitol Hill have vowed to target the federal bureaucracy, holding civil servants accountable when they perform poorly or break the rules — behavior they say has been tolerated by the Obama administration across the government with few repercussions."
Now the reader may be thinking, bah! this is just another scam by the republicans in Congress to pick on democratic appointees and for good measure add a bit of Trump before the actual facts of the story have even been put forth. Stay with me here for a minute because the Post does get to the facts of the matter and they're nothing like the headline or the story introduction.
It turns out the Washington Post itself did an investigation in 2014 on the patent office workers who did no work but lied about their hours. Now it turns out 1000's of hours were billed but no work was done.
"This time and attendance abuse cost the government as much as $18.3 million, with employees who review patent applications billing the agency for almost 300,000 hours they never worked, investigators found. They said the full scale of the fraud is probably double what the numbers show, because they gave employees the benefit of the doubt: If they badged in once at the agency’s Alexandria headquarters or logged in at home, they got credit for a day of work."
Fake News is not just found on made up websites.