File this under the “insufficiently-developed sense of their own irony” category .. from the intrepid U.S. State Department, a handy guide for identifying misinformation and propaganda, and a clue into their establishment of a so-called “counter-misinformation team” sometime in 2005. Try to contain your laughter. The publication essentially blacklists a number of prominent internet sites as consistent sources of misinformation.
Here’s your Top Ten:
1. Rense Program www.rense.com
2. Roads to Iraq www.roadstoiraq.com
3. Vialls Investigations www.vialls.com
4. Al Jazeera aljazeera.com
5. Conspiracy Planet www.conspiracyplanet.com
6. Jihad Unspun jihadunspun.com
7. International Action Center www.iacenter.org
8. Free Arab Voice www.freearabvoice.org
9. George W. Bush – Terrorist in the White House nogw.com
10. Islam Memo (in Arabic) www.islammemo.cc
The State Department further suggests the following criteria to tell if a story is true:
- Does the story fit the pattern of a conspiracy theory?
- Does the story fit the pattern of an Ã¢â‚¬Å“urban legend?Ã¢â‚¬Â
- Does the story contain a shocking revelation about a highly controversial issue?
- Is the source trustworthy?
- What does further research tell you?
… offering this advice up to Regular Joes and Reporters alike. Has anyone ever heard of Journalism school? High School Civics classes?
In modern politics, it is a consistent rhetorical moan of the conservative right that they have no voice, that they are revolutionary victims of massive and widespread disinformation campaigns by everyone from other religions to a liberal media bias to educators and philosophers. Some of this may be true, however in recent past it’s been difficult to raise a questioning voice against the Roveian wave of disinformation, litigation, and treachery.
I have a handy tool that I use for identifying misinformation: if it’s coming from the Bush Administration, it’s a lie.