The first clue the “former British intelligence source’s” information was baseless is that it first appeared in “Mother Jones,” of University of Virginia fraternity rape fame. #Buzzfeed claims its allegations are “unverified” in the opening paragraph. Once BF broke the story, “The New York Times,” “Washington Post,” and rest of the mainstream media circus couldn’t wait to pounce on it. By the way, NBCUniversal is the majority shareholder in BF.

Back in the last century when I got started in journalism being first was good, but being right was vital. The only thing a reporter is expert at is asking the right people questions.

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Journalists, at least once upon a time, knew they, and their reputations, were only as good as their sources.

We were taught by our peers to verify information before publishing, or broadcasting, it. We valued this concept called “objectivity.” While it was impossible to be truly objective, one learned where personal bias lay and fought that in order to tell a more balance, dare I say, fairer story. Oh for the good old days.

I still believe in the basic truth in journalism—when done right. And I support the United States, warts and all. I proudly wrote-in my dog Benny rather than vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. But Benny lost; Trump is the president-elect. So now it is time to put personal choices aside and practice what Dave Mason penned so long ago, “So let's leave it alone ‘cause we can’t see eye to eye, There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

Times are changing

Traditionally the United States has practiced what is known as the social responsible theory of the press.

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The media must adhere to professional and ethical standards for this theory to work. While entities are allowed to advocate for certain causes or aim at niche audiences, publishers recognize the financial liability that may come. The mainstream media should share exceptional standards of professionalism, truth and accuracy. Sadly this is not the case today.

Trust people

The U.S. intelligence communities briefing to the presidents alleging #Russia has compromising material and information on Trump’s personal life and finances, is not supported by anything other than the “former British intelligence source.” Trump has denied it. Russia has denied it. But there the unsubstantiated allegation is. Readers can decide; context be damned.

Here is a responsible, but minority, response to those jumping on the fake news. “The scurrilousness of what BuzzFeed has done here is so beyond the bounds of what is even remotely acceptable it should compel even those most outraged by Trump’s political excesses to come to his defense and to the defense of a few other people mentioned in these papers whose names are dragged through the mud,” “New York Post” columnist John Podhoretz said.

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What NBC and the rest of the mainstream media have accomplished over the past few years is to fundamentally shift press practice from social responsibility to a libertarian model in which the media’s purpose is to entertain, sell and inform. This libertarian theory of press is supposed to serve as a watchdog on the government; however, the U.S. media has become too selective on which government, business and cultural officials it chooses to watch. Everybody should have access to information, be it true or not, and humans can decide what is true for them. While that sounds great to postmodern philosophers, too many people lack the ability to analyze information, yet alone differentiate between a fact and a lie. That is where people like me used to fit in. #fake news