Dear Editor:

I saw a video on Facebook of a Jumbo Jet making what’s called a “hard landing.” The aircraft took three huge bounces, nose wheel first, with no damage and rolled to a safe stop. This video seemed literally unbelievable. My skepticism was confirmed when I shared the video to an airline engineer friend of mine.  It was “CGI” or Computer Generated Imagery. It never happened. 

We live in trompe l’oeil times, (French for ‘”deceive the eye”). CGI technology is so realistic we can’t trust what we see with our own eyes, escalating our chances of being deceived. Fake news undermines serious media coverage. However, some news outlets have been guilty of airing stories with disinformation accompanied by CGI to give it authenticity because it attracts advertisers and improves ratings. 

If fabricated news goes “viral” and becomes fixed in the social consciousness, there is a high likelihood it will be accepted as truth. 

This is not a new concept – it’s a form of persuasion, perfected by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany. Nazi fake news was so effective it mobilized the German population and its axis countries to support mass murder of six million European Jews and of other victims. So, fake news might seem harmless and entertaining on some levels, but when used to manipulate public opinion, it can have catastrophic consequences.

Dirty trick purveyors have been part of American politics in every election since George Washington ran unopposed. Both parties are accountable. But, since the Nixon years, with political operative Roger Stone at the helm, the Republicans have clearly outpaced the Democrats.

Last February a federal jury found Stone guilty of seven felony charges including lying to Congress and obstructing justice, to protect Trump. He faced up to 50 years in prison. However, in July Trump commuted his sentence. This is a flagrant miscarriage of justice and the ramifications of any political operative committed to the Joseph Goebbels principle of “the end justifies the means,” should concern everyone. 

Roger Stone must feel bullet proof today. With his pardon in hand he said his loyalty to Trump is steadfast and “I’ll do anything necessary to get Trump reelected.” In the video documentary, “Get Me Roger Stone,” Stone brags “greatest political trickster in American history.” The stage is set for a nightmare scenario in the upcoming presidential election.

Knowing we can not accept news on face value, we must become “healthy skeptics.” Slogans like “Fair and Balanced” and “Most Trusted Name in News” are just brands to engage their viewers. 

Never take it literally. However, we don’t have to feel helpless. There are sources for ferreting out the truth. 

Snopes.com or factcheck.org are a couple good examples. These are nonpartisan, consumer advocate sites dedicated to reducing the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. 

They use documented sources for factual accuracy empowering us to make up our own minds.

A watch dog can bark, but we have to listen.

(Tinker) Paul Silver

Howard