MSNBC Anchor Discusses Fake News and Media

Al Velshi

HOUSTON, November 8 — Asia Society Texas Center held a sold-out program with MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi on October 10, titled Knowing What to Trust: Fake News’ Global Role in Society and Political Campaigns. He began with acknowledgement that a story is dependent on one’s perspective — what is bad news for one network is good for another or a competitor. This, in part, makes it difficult to determine what is fake news and what is a genuine account. Throughout the evening, Velshi discussed the widening distinction between major news outlets and content providers versus platforms, which may have ideological goals. He added that the increasing plurality of news offerings and the polarization of sources have driven the rise of inaccurate content. Newer outlets also aim to distinguish themselves from traditional networks by suggesting they represent the non-elites and arguing they report what mainstream media chooses not to cover.

Velshi added that, in the Western world, stagnant middle class living standards have added fuel to alternative approaches, both on the far left and far right of the political spectrum. Fringe stories, which in the past may have been reserved for chat rooms and chain emails, now have an outlet with the internet and social media networks. Alternatively, in Asia, there is a mix of rising middle class wages coupled with restricted freedom of the press in China or rapid growth of mainstream media sources in India. In closing, Velshi drew attention to the problem that although social media content is rarely being vetted, it is increasingly where people get their daily news. It has been challenging deciding if any laws are being broken through fake news, therefore action to combat its proliferation is limited and slow. He urged readers to know where their news comes from, thus framing their understanding of the story.