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Category Archives: Fake News

Fake News Buster: Vaccines have only helped to save lives – Bangalore Mirror

Posted: December 29, 2020 at 12:42 am

THE CLAIMS1 After there were reports of two persons developing allergies after taking the vaccine in the UK, there was a fear among people that anyone with any allergy cannot take the vaccine. 2 Some people also put up on their social media pages that the body can fight the virus much better than the vaccine. SO, WHATS THE TRUTH?1 Dr Faheem Yonous, who has been dispelling covid myths on his Twitter feed regularly, writes that the only absolute contraindication to covid vaccine is a severe allergy/anaphylaxis to these mRNA vaccines. People with any other allergy (drug, food, environment etc) have a path to the vaccine. 2 The World Health Organization (WHO) has long maintained that the development of a vaccine would be crucial to fighting the virus. WHOs figures show that vaccines which protect against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles save the lives of up to three million people each year.


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Conservative Twitter users dominate the discussion of fake news about the coronavirus, study finds – PsyPost

Posted: at 12:42 am

An analysis of Twitter data suggests that conservatives are the top spreaders of fake news about the COVID-19 crisis. The findings were published in the Journal of Computational Social Science.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a deep political divide when it comes to the handling of the crisis. A wide variety of ideas and opinions circulate on social media, including a multitude of pandemic-related conspiracy theories. As study author Nicholas Francis Harvey of UCLA says, belief in these conspiracy theories is linked to reduced adherence to COVID-19 safety measures, and it is important to consider who is most susceptible to spreading such misinformation.

My research focuses on how social media influences political polarization and vice-versa, particularly for students, Harvey told PsyPost.

I pursued this study as a result of my ongoing qualitative, on-the-ground (though now via Zoom) work with politically engaged college students, which has consistently revealed a rejection of science and public health recommendations as being a method of governmental control.

I was primarily concerned, as the pandemic was in its infancy, that this sort of stance might negatively impact both students and the greater public by facilitating the rejection of public health recommendations like wearing masks and social distancing, Harvey said.

Twitter is a hotspot for false information, Harvey wrote in his study, calling the platform an echo chamber where users typically encounter one-sided views and little back and forth between opposing ideologies. By analyzing Twitter data, the researcher hoped to gain insight into how ideology relates to the sharing of false information about COVID-19.

Harvey focused on six different misinformation topics: hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, bleach as a defense against COVID-19, Bill Gates having purposefully introduced the virus, 5G causing the virus, the Chinese Communist Party having created the virus, and the Deep State having created the virus.

By searching for specific keywords, Harvey accessed the latest tweets related to these subjects stemming from April 23 to April 30, 2020 the final data set consisted of 4101 tweets. The researcher then estimated each of the Twitter users political standing, based on their association with politically elite Twitter accounts (e.g., Barack Obama, Glenn Beck).

The analysis showed that in every topic except for bleach as a defense against the virus, conservatives were dominating the discussion on Twitter. A closer look at individual tweets shed light on the nature of these discussions. As Harvey reported, conservatives openly criticized both their liberal counterparts and the mainstream media for criticizing the presidents response to the pandemic and not seeing the true cause of the virus: Bill Gates, the Deep State, China, or 5G, depending on whose tweet you read.

Using something called sentiment analysis, Harvey was able to analyze whether the tweets conveyed positive, neutral, or negative emotion. Sentiment analysis is centered on two things: opinion extraction and sentiment classification, he explained.

While conservatives were more predominant in the discussion of hydroxychloroquine than liberals, the evidence did not suggest they were more likely to support the use of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19 the main sentiments behind hydroxychloroquine tweets were neutral and informative. But the fact that conservatives were more involved in the conversation suggests that they were ready to spread such misinformation.

The key takeaways from this study is that the COVID-19 conspiracy theories I identified are being discussed, supported, and amplified by conservatives to a much greater degree than by liberals, whose conversation mostly revolves around sarcasm, critique, and attempts to debunk the conspiracy theories presented, Harvey told PsyPost.

This is a direct threat for public health, as states with conservative leadership continue to face less stringent regulations and restrictions against the public health threat COVID-19 presents and individual conservatives tend to comply with public health recommendations, when available, to a lesser extent than their liberal peers.

According to the researcher, social media tends to strengthen belief in conspiracy theories while squandering belief in public health information. To counter this, Harvey suggests that platforms like Twitter take action. Twitter could act by either suspending accounts deemed to spread such false information or by removing certain topics from discussion. On a broader level, Harvey suggests that the public would benefit from education on how to differentiate between trusted information and #FakeNews.

But Harvey noted that sentiment analysis includes some limitations. While the method facilitates analysis of more massive sets of data (such as tweets), it does not perfectly align with qualitative approaches that may be better suited to detect sarcasm or more accurately parse the sentiment of a tweet, he explained.

While I performed qualitative / manual validity checks, the data presented may actually be even more skewed than it already seems, as a large amount of the neutral data was purely informative (and could thus be argued to be critical of the conspiracy theories) and much of the liberal discussion was sarcastic or satirical.

Future research should also consider the information flows and spread of topics like these, as my analyses did not pursue how information like conspiracy theories spread and whether that spread was as participation as the initial discussion appears, Harvey added.

While conservatives may be more vocal with respect to rejecting public health recommendations, this does not mean that they are the sole perpetrators of disobeying public health guidelines to the detriment of the general community. Everyone needs to be vigilant and work together to reduce infections and deaths.

The study, Partisan public health: how does political ideology influence support for COVID19 related misinformation?, was authored by Nicholas Francis Harvey.

(Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay)

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Alternative facts, witch-hunt, bigly: the Trump era in 32 words and phrases – The Guardian

Posted: at 12:42 am

Donald Trump not only changed much about campaigning, governing and the ways of Washington, even the language of American politics has altered during the Republicans tenure. Trumps rollicking rally speeches and manic Twitter feed conjured new slogans and insults or revived incendiary words with long histories; his allies, opponents and chroniclers searched for new phrases to describe the indescribable. Here is a glossary of some of them from the past five years:

alternative facts

Coined by Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, during a Meet the Press interview in January 2017 to defend press secretary Sean Spicers the false assertion that Trump drew the biggest inauguration crowd ever. Together these formed the original sin of the Trump presidency, culminating in his coronavirus and election denialism.


A far-right movement based on white nationalism and antisemitism. One of its leaders, Richard Spencer, described it as identity politics for white people. When Steve Bannon was running Breitbart News, he called it the platform for the alt-right. Bannon went on to become Trumps chief strategist during his first race for the White House.

American carnage

In his inaugural address, Trump painted a dark picture of poverty in inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones and crime and gangs and drugs, promising: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. But the phrase came back to haunt him, especially when the coronavirus pandemic killed hundreds of thousands of people.

America first

Trumps central promise of self-interest galvanised his base and dismayed critics. He followed through on withdrawing from the Paris climate accords, renegotiating trade deals and leaving the US isolated on the global stage. The phrase also had jarring associations with a 1940s movement to keep the US out of the second world war that came to be accused of antisemitism.


An amorphous and leftwing anti-fascist movement demonised by Trump and fellow Republicans. Its followers have used aggressive tactics including physical confrontations to intimidate groups they regard as authoritarian or racist. Joe Biden remarked during a presidential debate: Antifa is an idea, not an organization.


Legend has it that Trump first deployed this word during the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Im going to cut taxes bigly, and youre going to raise taxes bigly, he said, or at least that was how some people heard it. Others reckoned he must have said big league. But the word bigly does appear in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

China virus

Trump complained that Covid-19 had multiple names but more often than not settled on the racist terms China virus and kung flu, putting Asian Americans at risk of hostility and persecution. He insisted: Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. But even Conway rejected the term China virus as wrong and highly offensive.


The first half of Trumps presidency was dominated by special counsel Robert Muellers investigation into his campaigns alleged collusion with Russia. In the end, Mueller stopped short of asserting that collusion took place prompting Trumps defenders to cry collusion delusion but did make a persuasive case that the president obstructed justice.

deep state

Trump pushed the conspiracy theory that bureaucrats within the political system effectively run a secret government that plots against democratically elected officials. Others came to see civil servants, judges and national security personnel as a bulwark of democracy. Thank God for the deep state, John McLaughlin, a former deputy and acting director of the CIA, remarked last year.


Typically defined as the dissemination of deliberately false information, it took flight with Russias social media attack during the 2016 election. Trump pushed disinformation about the economy, coronavirus, election and countless other topics. The willingness of Republicans and conservative media to do likewise raised fears of a fundamental breakdown in trust in government institutions and the media.

enemy of the people

In a characteristic shock tactic, Trump used this historically loaded phrase regularly to attack the media. Its lineage dates back to 1789 when French revolutionaries threw it at those who opposed them. In the 20th century it was embraced by autocrats from Stalin to Mao to justify their bloody purges. The danger of such rhetoric was evident in Trump supporter T-shirts that said: Rope. Tree. Journalist.

fake news

The term was popularised by BuzzFeed News media editor Craig Silverman to describe unverified claims and online rumours. But in January 2017, Trump, then president-elect, told CNNs Jim Acosta at a press conference: You are fake news. From that moment on, he coopted and weaponised the phrase to dismiss media reports he did not like.


One of Trumps favourites on Twitter and elsewhere, particularly when referring to the New York Times. In fact the Times thrived during his presidency and now has more than 7 million paid subscribers. He remained obsessed with the coverage of him in his home town paper.

false and misleading

This became frequent media shorthand for Trumps distortions. The Washington Posts fact checkers even kept count: by 11 September, it noted, he had made 23,035 false or misleading claims. But from January 2017 onwards, when the New York Times ran the headline, Meeting With Top Lawmakers, Trump Repeats an Election Lie, media outlets became bolder about calling a lie a lie.


This was the dark side of America first. Trumps defenders claimed he was using the term to condemn globalisation and its devastating effects on American workers. But critics heard a dog whistle for racist, antisemitic and antigovernment conspiracy theorists including the alt-right. George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist, was among the targets of anti-globalist bigotry.


Trump described climate change, the Russia investigation and his impeachment as a hoax. Brian Stelter, host of CNNs Reliable Sources programme, noted in August that the president had already used the word more than 250 times this year. When Stelter published a book, he naturally called it Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.


A conflation of Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, both senior advisers to the president, both lightning rods for scorn and ridicule. Hopes that, as supposed New York liberals, they would restrain Trumps worst impulses were dashed over and over. They are the Faustian poster couple of the Trump presidency, wrote Frank Bruni in the New York Times.

lock her up!

Along with build that wall, this became the classic chant at Trumps rallies in 2016, when he ran against Hillary Clinton and, more unexpectedly, persisted through to 2020, when Joe Biden proved harder to categorise. The phrase was condemned for normalising the idea of a president seeking to jail his opponent.


This is one of Trumps go to insults, slung at everyone from the media to the Lincoln Project to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. But it rebounded on him last September when the Atlantic magazine reported that he had referred to Americas war dead as losers and suckers. Two months later, Trump, who was all about winning, became a loser himself in Novembers election.


Short for Make America great again, a slogan borrowed from Ronald Reagan that Trump made his own at rallies, on hats and on endless other merchandise. The Maga nation became a way to describe a country within a country, one that was seething with anger, nativist populism and contempt for liberals and fact-based reality.

Never Trumper

The Never Trump movement was a failed attempt among Republicans and other conservatives to deny Trump the partys nomination in 2016. But it marched on through his presidency and found expression in groups such as the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump that opposed him in 2020.


Trump bent, broke, shattered, shredded and trampled on norms from start to finish, prompting the lament: This is not normal. It was another way of saying that he crossed every line, pushed every envelope and violated every unwritten rule. It led some commentators to suggest that at least some of those rules should now be written down.

owning the libs

A symptom of negative partisanship, this political performance art is all about goading, shocking and outraging liberals, especially on social media. Its patron saint was Trumps son Don Jr. He is there only to engage in that performative dickery that is lib owning in the Trump world, said Rick Wilson, a co-founder of the Lincoln Project.

quid pro quo

The Latin phrase, which means something given or received for something else, was uttered frequently during Trumps impeachment hearings. He denied promising to unfreeze military aid to Ukraine in return for that country announcing an investigation into Biden.


The resistance to Trumps presidency made a stunning debut with the womens march in January 2017 and just kept going, energising grassroots groups such as Indivisible, diverse political newcomers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and protests over Trumps supreme court picks. The Resistance also happened to be the name of the good guys in the new Star Wars trilogy.


Another familiar Trump refrain, as in Governor Cuomo has completely lost control. Sad!, Biden will also raise your taxes like never before. Sad! and These are Organized Groups that have nothing to do with George Floyd. Sad! History will surely judge he did more for exclamation marks that any other president.

seriously not literally

[T]he press takes him literally, but not seriously, wrote Salena Zito in the Atlantic magazine in September 2016, his supporters take him seriously, but not literally. This phrase hovered over much early debate about the meaning of Trump, although critics came to argue that his malign conduct should be taken both literally and seriously.


In 2018 historian Jon Meacham wrote the book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. Biden, an admirer of the book, characterised his presidential campaign as a battle for the soul of America (Meacham reportedly had a hand in his speeches) and tweeted on 16 December: In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. Right on cue, the latest Pixar animated film is called, simply, Soul.

split screen

A well-worn phrase that captured the division, partisanship and polarisation of the Trump years, especially the notion of two distinct media bubbles. There were moments when CNN and Fox News seemed to occupy different universes. Carl Bernstein, whose reporting on the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward helped bring down Richard Nixon, said America had entered a a cold civil war.


This word became a football in the Trump-fuelled culture wars. People have legitimate reasons to feel triggered by examples of racism or other abuses. But rightwing trolls seized on terms like triggered and woke to mock liberals as snowflakes. Donald Trump Jr penned a book called Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.


Arguably the most overused word of the past five years. A CNN book chronicling the 2016 campaign was entitled Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything; just last week, on 15 December, Biden accused Trump of an unprecedented assault on democracy. Weary journalists were left scrambling for synonyms.


The phrase, which conjures images of women being put on trial and thrown into water amid hysteria reminiscent of Arthur Millers play The Crucible, became a staple of Trumps defence against the Russia investigation and Ukraine-related impeachment. Casting himself as a perpetual victim, more than one tweet simply yelled: Witch-hunt!

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FAKE NEWS | SANDF denies claims that members’ leave is cancelled due to Covid-19 surge – News24

Posted: at 12:42 am

Photo: Getty/Gallo Images

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has denied posts widely spread on social media that its members' leave had been cancelled due to rising Covid-19 numbers during the festive season.

According to the fake alert, all SANDF members who are on leave are expected to report for duty on Tuesday, 29 December to assist the police in monitoring Covid-19 compliance.

"A command was given yesterday that all uniform members of the SANDF... must report back on the 29th to start with preparations of giving the SAPS support on the streets, for the minimization of the spread of Covid-19," the fake alert read.

"That is 22:00 every civilian must be at home, all gatherings, clubs, parties or entertainment areas must be closed down by 22:00."

READ |No money to modernise current SANDF equipment, Parliament hears

However, SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General MPM Mgobozi has denied the allegations, saying the social media alert is fake.

"The South African National Defence Force is aware of reports that are currently doing the rounds on social media about the cancellation of leave of members," Mgobozi said.

He said the SANDF once again cautioned the public not to spread "incorrect and irresponsible" information.

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Totally Not Fake News: Texans Stars Punished for Violation of COVID Protocols, Filing Appeal – Battle Red Blog

Posted: at 12:42 am

HOUSTON, TX Despite all of the current news that involves the mass approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the public, the pandemic remains an omnipresent force in the lives of all Americans. Many organizations and governments still have strict COVID-19 protocols to mitigate the spread/impact of the virus. The NFL is no exception to this rule. At various points throughout the 2020 season, players and teams who found themselves in violation of those protocols faced fines and suspensions.

Among those teams who ran afoul of the COVID-19 protocols were your Houston Texans, who this past week were fined by the NFL for violations of the protocols. The violation: Appearing at the grand opening of a new restaurant owned by Deshaun Watson. Reports indicate that Watson received a $7,500 fine from the Houston Texans for said violations, with other teammates in attendance also getting fined undisclosed amounts.

Given the recent contract extension signed by Watson in the offseason, a small fine of this nature would seemingly put little dent in Watsons bank account. Yet Totally Not Fake News received word that Watson and his teammates plan to appeal the fine and punishment up to the NFL.

Of course, we are going to appeal the punishment decision, stated Deshaun Watson in a written statement on Leftys stationary. We feel that our violation of the rules warrants a punishment that is worthy of deterrence for other players so that they wont make the deliberate mistakes that we made. The fine is insufficient. We truly feel that a two-game suspension is warranted. Keep us out of the games, and I guarantee that you will see fewer, if any, new violations of COVID-19 protocols.

Oh, absolutely agree with Deshaun on this one, said Laremy Tunsil. While the cheesesteaks at Leftys are some of the best in the country, we absolutely violated the NFL COVID-19 protocols by more than three of us gathering together at a damned good place. At least six of us where there, and yeah, we said we didnt get within six feet of each other, and we all wore masks, but we definitely violated protocols. Even my special gas mask violated the protoco. I am appealing the fine and asking for the full two-game suspension, effective immediately. We have to send a message.

[Kitten], if the NFL can have every single QB on the Denver Broncos sit out a game because they didnt wear their masks the full time at a team meeting, I think what we did warrants at least a game, if not a full two game/end-this-[kitteny]-season-of-pain-and-misery observed Whitney Mercilus. This marks the first time that anyone can actually recall Mercilus doing or saying anything of note this entire season.

This seemed to be a universal theme for all the players in attendance that day. The fine, well, it was a fine, but they fully expected and wanted to miss the final two games of the 2020 season. Granted, it had little to do with the fact that the final two opponents are the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tennessee Titans, or the fact that the Texans were mathematically eliminated from the NFL Playoffs two weeks ago.

When informed of the news, the Holy Trinity defended their position. Hey, they committed the infraction, and we punished them within the acceptable limits of the NFL COVID-19 protocol. The fine is enough. They need to get back out on to the field. Maybe we can only have 14,000 fans, but we need all 14,000 we can get. Cant pay for the finest Colombian blow without Watson on the field. You think those dancers from Westheimer are just going to perform for free? Money, man. We need the money. lamented Team President Jamey Rootes.

The Lord gave Watson and Tunsil special gifts, gifts they are ordained by the Almighty to share with the world, and that means getting them on to the football field, opined Interim GM Jack Easterby. Look, I know it is Christmas, but we dont need to be that charitable to the NFL. The Dolphins are in good enough shape. I cant afford to see them with the #3 pick in the draft, I mean, we need to be the best team we can be for Houston and our fans. My job, er, the faith of the city, depends on the Texans putting their best foot forward.

I think the fine is sufficient, slurred Cal McNair. $7,500 is enough to get an actual, decent bottle of Scotch. Not this Southern Comfort crap Ive been inhaling during this dumpster fire of a season. Heck, I nearly had to raid Hannahs boxed wine set! It has been that bad a seasona seah-son-ish, ya diggis [once against passes out in drunken stupor].

Granted, the loss of the two games does mean that said players lose their paychecks for those games, and that led to one of the biggest rows of the season, where Tunsil and Watson nearly came to blows, with each fighting over who would pick up the tab for the lost games. Im making $22 million a year, Ill cover the guys! screamed Tunsil, No, you dumb [kitten] son of a [kitten]! Imma bout to make $40 million, I got this! Plus, I got this damned restaurant! I can literally put food on the table for these guys! roared Watson.

If not for the timely intervention of Romeo Crennel, fresh off a double zero hit at the roulette table and finding time to win the latest round of The Masked Singer, it may have turned into a supreme locker room donnybrook. That stare, man, shivered Watson. I thought I was tough, but when Coach [Crennel] gives you the death stare, you dont argue, you dont question, you just accept. A stare like that, Laremy and I both agreed, we gonna do whatever the [kitten] Coach wants.

Whether Watson, Tunsil, and the rest of the gang suit up for the final two games, all involved agreed that it is important to follow the COVID-19 rules, that the Holy Trinity of the Texans can shove the N.E.R.D. book up their vestment robes, and that if COVID-19 was dumb enough to try to infect Crennel, his Death Stare would probably kill the virus at the sub-atomic level.

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@RealSanta: Perfect Christmas expected at N. Pole, all that other stuff is ‘Fake News’ – KCAW

Posted: at 12:42 am

While Santa is mired in scandal at the North Pole, Dr. Mrs. Claus has been tapped for a cabinet post in the Biden White House. As the Secretary of the US Department of Good Cheer, her first task will be to absorb the Transportation Security Administration. Shes already begun to provide warm milk and cookies at all airport security checkpoints and what else? puppies in every terminal. (Flickr photo/Thomas Nilsson)

Santa Claus says Christmas will happen on schedule this year, despite reports that the elves are dissatisfied with workplace safety at the North Pole. CARES Act funding (upwards of $20 billion in gumdrops and hard cookies) may have been redirected by Jolly Old St. Nick into into a reindeer ranch in the Caribbean and designer shoes for Mrs. Claus, who incidentally has been tapped by the Biden administration to head the new Department of Good Cheer.

With John Straley, Finn Straley, Caitlin Woolsey, and Robert Woolsey.

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Actor Sushant Singh continues to share fake news, this time lies about the release of suspended cop DSP Davinder Singh – OpIndia

Posted: at 12:42 am

Former actor Sushant Singh, who has lately been forefront at spreading misinformation on social media platforms, on Sunday was yet again caught sharing fake news pertaining to the release of suspended police cop Davinder Singh, who was arrested last year for his alleged ties with the terrorists.

Taking to Twitter, Sushant Singh claimed that suspended police cop Davinder Singh was released from the jail because of the lack of charge sheet filed in the case. He added that the whereabouts of Singh were not known after he was released. The former actor said that DSP Davinder Singh was caught red-handed in his car carrying the terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir to Delhi.

He continued, however, NIA could not file charge sheet, leading to Singh getting bail in three months. He asked whether anyone knew or any channel called him Khalistani after his alleged release from the jail. Taking potshots at the government and its supporters, Sushant said that people have forgotten him just like alleged Chinas intrusion.

In his hurry to target the Modi government and countrys investigative agencies for taking action alleged terror sympathisers, Sushant Singh openly peddled false propaganda by conveniently ignoring the details of the case registered against suspended cop Davinder Singh.

Similar such claims were made by other Twitter users.

It is important to note that the Court grantedbailto Davinder Singh and lawyer Irfan Shafi Mir in connection with the case filed against them by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in June this year. The bail was granted after the court noted that the charge-sheet was not filed even after the mandatory statutory period of 90 days had passed. The accused had to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 1 lakh each with two sureties of each amount.

The IO in the case submitted a status report before the court andsaid, investigation in the instant case has not been concluded yet, hence charge sheet has not been filed.

Most importantly, the bail was granted by the court only in the case filed by the Delhi Police. There is a separate case that was registered against him by the National Investigation Agency in which he has not been granted bail and thus, he has not walked out of jail.

Davinder Singh, though has secured bail in a case filed by Delhi Police, has remained incarcerated because of a separate case filed against him by the National Investigation Agency. Hence, he did not walking out of jail as claimed by Sushant Singh. And to answer his question about his whereabouts, Singh is currently in NIA custody.

However, the usual suspects are now trying to cast aspersions on the government to claim that the disgraced cop is walking free. However, it is not true as bail was awarded to Davinder Singh in a separate case and he will continue to remain in judicial custody in the NIA Case. The NIA has time and again assured that they have sufficient evidence against him and he will be charge-sheeted in due course.

Davinder Singh wasarrestedalong with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists Naveed Babu and Asif Rather on the 11th of January when they were travelling together in a car. Later, it was reported that he was on the payroll of the Islamic terrorist organisation. Subsequently, his case was handed over to the NIA. The NIA had taken over the case on the 18th of January.

Amidst the ongoing farmer protests against the farm reforms that have beenhijackedby pro-Khalistani, far-left and various political parties to further their agenda against the Modi government, several social media users sympathetic to the alleged farmers have been resorting to spreading fake news, images on the internet to garner support to the protests which have already caused massive inconvenience to the public.

Similarly, actor Sushant Singh and a few other Congress trolls took to social media to share an image of a deceased elder person. According to their claim, the elderly farmer was one of the protestors camping along the Haryana-Delhi border and he passed away during the protests against the Modi government.

Actor Sushant Singh, sharing a post of another social media user, who had himself falsely claimed that it was painful for him to share the news of a farmer passing away during the protests against the three farm laws.

However, the image shared by assorted trolls associated with the alleged farmer protests, the farmers associations and actors have nothing to do with the ongoing protests against the Modi government. The image was first shared on Facebook page Gareeb jatt in September 2018.

Despite multiple people pointing out, Sushant Singh has not removed his fake news regarding Davinder Singh.

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The FBI, Comic Pros and the Fake News Controversy of the 1964 Election – Bleeding Cool News

Posted: at 12:42 am

This post started as a Chilling Adventures of Sabrina article, largely about MLJ/Archie comic book editor and writer Abner Sundell with maybe a footnote or two about Sundell's weird blunder into the political realm in 1964, which I've been meaning research further ever since I stumbled across it in 2017. A couple of WTF-inducing stretches of research later, it's something else entirely: a forgotten example from American history of how pop culture and the people who make it influence politics. There are way more such examples of this magnitude than you'd think, from the realm of comics, pulps and dime novels. Virtually all of them are little-remembered by history despite numerous instances of court and/or Congressional testimony, investigative files, and other evidence. The elections of 1880 and 1896 are two other particularly good examples, and we'll get to those and more in time.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina character Madam Satan, played by Michelle Gomez in the recent tv series from Netflix, was created for comics in 1941 by artist Harry Lucey and writerAbner Sundell. Madam Satan first appeared in Pep Comics #16(note: this comic book is in the public domain), cover-dated June 1941. Abner Sundell co-created other MLJ (The publisher now known as Archie) comic book characters such as Steel Sterling (with artist Charles Biro), and became the publisher's managing editor Archie debuted under his tenure, as did many other foundational MLJ properties of that era.

Sundell had a fascinating and wide-ranging career as an editor across pulps, comic books, and magazines. He got his start writing and editing for the pulps, where he eventually crossed paths with Louis Silberkleit the man who put the "L" in MLJ. He hired Charles Biro during his tenure at MLJ who went on to become a notable comics editor himself at publisher Lev Gleason (Daredevil Comics, Silver Streak Comics, Crime Does Not Pay). Sundell also worked for Victor Fox, as writer and editor for Fox's comic book and magazine lines.

Madam Satan creator Abner Sundell's career as an editor eventually landed him a central role in a Congressional hearing investigating the truthfulness and purpose of some specific media activities in the United States election cycle of 1964. But before that, another little-remembered figure from comic book history made a startling leap from minor comics industry player to major league political operative, to help set the stage for that election. About the changing media climate that this era represents, it was noted during that hearing:

Mr. Chairman, when it comes right down to it, irresponsible attacks on Members of Congress are not simply attacks directed at human beings They are attacks on our political system.

This is a new phenomenon that technology has made possible. It has been a factor in more and more campaigns. The great ease of editing [media] has opened a whole new realm of distortion to the unscrupulous political campaigner or to the unscrupulous or irresponsible individual or organization outside the realm of politics that wants to abuse or, indeed, to annihilate a responsible political figure.

Bruce L. Felkner, Fair Campaign Practices Committee, Hearing before the Special Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures, December 17, 1964

Following a successful career as a comic book writer and editor, Abner Sundell became an editor for Pageant Magazine, during the 1960s. Pageant Magazine was launched in 1944 by comic book, magazine, and book publisher Alex Hillman. The magazine was composed of what had become a typical mainstream men's magazine formula along the lines of the earlier Esquire Magazineand similar titles fiction, politics, and news wrapped up in covers and photo features of attractive women.

Remembered today as the publisher of comic books titles such as Air Fighters Comics, Airboy, and Rocket Comics, Hillman's life, and business operations ranged well beyond comic book publishing, and his career as a publisher and political raconteur of sorts took some odd twists and turns.

Hillman was a law student at the University of Chicago during the dawn ofwhat became known as the Chicago School of Economics at that university, which encompassed teachings in related academic areas such as business and law. The Chicago School became known for applying economic theory to other fields such as politics. In later times, Hillman was among those who helped fund the Economics Department there via endowments after the Ford Foundation halted their funding. The Chicago School has produced some 30 Nobel Prize winners in economics, including most famously, Milton Friedman. Friedman attended Chicago a short time after Hillman, and the school's economic theories have been influential on conservative politics.

Hillman's interest in a spectrum of fields including publishing, economics, art, and politics seems very informed by his time at the University of Chicago, but employing what he learned there in the publishing business soon brought him to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

In January 1939, the FBI opened an investigation into Hillman regarding "Interstate Transportation of Obscene Matter" for the Hillman magazine Crime Detective. Investigating agents quickly determined that the magazine was not obscene and that the investigation was seemingly politically motivated. It had been instigated by an Assistant U.S. District Attorney at the behest of associates of Pennsylvania Governor George Earle, whose administration ended in scandal that year. Earle and various associates in the city of Philidelphia had been the subject of the issue of Crime Detective in question. The investigation was ultimately dropped.

Hillman was back on Hoover's radar again in 1952, for an article regarding the FBI in his magazine People Today, which also featured Hoover himself on the cover. Of note, the memo regarding this matter refers to an unincluded 1943 memo that recommended that "the Bureau steer clear of any relations whatever with Hillman Periodicals, Inc" due to what it termed as Hillman's unsavory reputation.

The 1952 memo is a fascinating microcosm of the FBI under Hoover. Noting that "Although this article was not derogatory, it was unauthorized", the investigation subsequently found that People Today had run a number of other FBI articles that were likewise positive but unauthorized. But "since Hillman bears a bad business reputation" it was recommended that the company again be investigated for possible violations of the Interstate Transportation of Indecent Literature statute in seeming reprisal for having the temerity to run such unauthorized articles.

The subsequent investigation (which includes the fascinating tidbit that the FBI had used a former agent now working at rival Fawcett to gather info on Hillman) again turned up nothing illegal, and the matter was dropped. However, the FBI did note with some interest that in 1950, Hillman had picked up an important (and controversial) business associate: Senator Styles Bridges became a member of the Hillman Periodicals board of directors.

Bridges was the Senate Minority Leader 1952-53, and President pro tempore of the Senate 1953-55. He was an ally and defender of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the period when McCarthyism became synonymous with witch-hunting. Bridges is perhaps best remembered today for his alleged role in threatening fellow Senator Lester Hunt with publicizing the fact that his son was gay during the then-upcoming election campaign. Hunt withdrew his bid for reelection and shot himself in his Capitol Hill office.

Apparently quite impressed with his comic book and magazine publishing associate's business acumen (not to mention his Chicago School credentials), Styles sent Alex Hillman to France in 1953 to lead an investigative team for the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding a proposed $5 billion economic aid package for that country under the Marshall Plan. Hillman's report was sharply critical of the French government and concluded that they were using American aid to avoid raising taxes.

It appears that the relationship between Bridges and Hillman was beneficial to both parties. The December 29, 1952 issue of Newsweek made note of the fact that Hillman had pulled all of the comics out of the display case in the Hillman Periodicals office lobby. He was getting out of that end of the business, he'd told them, to focus more on magazines. The last Hillman Periodicals comics were cover-dated March 1953.

The timing of that exit from the comics business turned out to be a remarkable bit of foresight on Hillman's part. Because a few months later, the last Hillman comics were being pulled from newsstands during the same month that two of Hillman board member Styles Bridges' colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee Estes Kefauver and Robert Henrickson publicly floated their intention to form a committee to investigate juvenile delinquency in the United States. The subsequent hearings included a highly public grilling of comic book publishers by the Senate, which in turn ultimately led to the Comics Code.

Being spared the embarrassment of having to defend his publishing line in front of a Senate Subcommittee seems to have done wonders for Hillman's reputation at least in the eyes of a certain other government agency. By the time Alex Hillman resurfaced in available FBI files a few years later, it seems that they'd done an about-face on their opinion of the comics and magazine publisher. In a memo seeking more info about the author of a Pageant Magazine piece covering FBI Agent Melvin Purvis, a publicity-friendly agent of the 1930s who is best remembered for being the man who took down John Dillinger, the investigating agent notes:

We have had favorable relations with Pageant Magazine, and they have printed a number of favorable articles regarding the Bureau. The Director [J. Edgar Hoover] saw Alexander Hillman of Hillman Periodicals on 5/6/60

Hillman would exit the publishing business entirely shortly after that, but it was the popularity of his publishing swan song, a paperback titled Conscience of a Conservative, which became his most noteworthy contribution to the direction of modern political history. The success of Conscience of a Conservative is said to have convinced its author, U.S. Senator and eventual Senate Intelligence Committee ChairBarry Goldwater, to run for President. The blurb on the current edition of the book says, "It influenced countless conservatives in the United States, and helped lay the foundation for the Reagan Revolution in 1980." Hillman's fellow University of Chicago alumni Milton Friedman would become one of Goldwater's policy advisors during the 1964 election campaign.

Along the way, Hillman accumulated a noteworthy circle of political associates including conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr, who worked with Hillman on various magazines, and who occasionally name-checked his old comic book and magazine publishing associate in books. That's all quite a foray into politics (and I've left out a bunch of it. I'll write more about Mr. Hillman another time) for the nearly-forgotten publisher of comic book characters such as Valkyrie, Airboy and The Heap. But Hillman was not the only individual from the comic book industry whose career path brought him to an important contributing role in the 1964 election.

Under Hillman, Pageant Magazinebecame well known for its presentation of polls and other data. The April 1949 issue polled the nation's top economists, who predicted an economic slump in the face of a potential decline in Cold War spending by the government, for example. On a lighter note, the next issue that year informed us that they had determined that there were 20,000,000 dogs living in the U.S. at that time (I couldn't resist looking up the current number it's 89.7 million dogs as of last year, according to Statista). In its later years, the magazine advertised itself with the rather creepy tagline "The Magazine that Reads You."

But by 1961, Pageant had been acquired by another company with a deep history in the pulp and magazine publishing industry, Macfadden. The publisher had merged with Bartell Broadcasting Corporation in 1961 to become Macfadden-Bartell. As an aside, Macfadden's historical output is considered highly influential on the origins of the American comic book industry, right down to playing an incidental role in the "discovery" of Superman. Macfadden-Bartell would continue to be a major player in the newsstand periodical field for decades, acquiring well-known magazines such as Us, and even a partial share in the National Enquirer.

All of which is to say that by the time that former MLJ/Archie Comics editor Abner Sundell arrived at Pageant in the early 1960s, the magazine's political, polling and data bona fides had been established at least among the public.

What happened next requires some context: the 1964 election is almost universally considered one of the most brutal elections in U.S. history. Its strategies and tactics echo through our elections to this day.

For Goldwater's part, his campaign marked the beginning of what became known as the Southern Strategy. His supporters called the media"the rat-fink Eastern press", and his rallies were a startling departure from the norm:

The aim of the revellers was not so much to advance a candidacy or a cause as to dramatize a mood, and the mood was a kind of joyful defiance, or defiant joy. By coming South, Barry Goldwater had made it possible for great numbers of unapologetic white supremacists to hold great carnivals of white supremacy. They were not troubled in the least over whether this would hurt the Republican Party in the rest of the country.

As for Lyndon B. Johnson, his successful candidacy was considered a certainty. Having assumed the presidency just a year prior due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Johnson had stepped into the role at an extremely difficult time Vietnam, the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and civil rights issues all loomed large but he'd done well in the eyes of most of the country, and had passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 earlier that year, banning discrimination by race, religion, or sex.

But Johnson was a man who left no detail to chance. Often described as adept at manipulating the media, Johnson employed a spectrum of tactics during the campaign that ranged from hardball to frankly shady. Then Special Assistant to the President Bill Moyers captured the intent of the campaign in this August 17, 1964 memo:

This is no time for me to be tactful with you. There is too much at stake.

No one knows better than you why we took on the Presidential campaign. There is only one reason. We are ardent Democrats who are deadly afraid of Goldwater and feel that the world must be handed a Johnson landslide.

We agreed that a very necessary part of the campaign is that part devoted to the voting public the absurd, contradictory and dangerous nature of the opposition candidate It is already apparent Barry Goldwater is making every effort to adjust his extreme position to one more acceptible. Knowing the short memory span of the average person, it is entirely possible he might succeed in creating a new character for himself if we are unable to remind people of the truth about this man.

This memo is in reference to what's known as the "Daisy" television spot, which was part of what is considered one of the most controversial political television ad campaigns ever. But the campaign's strategies across print media were also comprehensive.

For example, there's the curious case of now-infamous CIA Agent E. Howard Hunt. Remembered by history for his central role in the Watergate scandal, Hunt also infiltrated the Goldwater campaign during the 1964 election cycle and fed information to the Johnson campaign, which could be used to anticipate and counter Goldwater's moves in the press. While it's impossible to take Hunt's statements on the matter at face value one of his main tasks at the CIA was to create propaganda for domestic consumption, after all he nevertheless merits a mention here for his documentable multiple connections to publishers which are familiar to comic book historians. Dell, Fawcett, and David McCay Publications are among those who published material (paperback fiction, in the case of Fawcett and Dell) that Hunt wrote himself or had produced via the CIA. Hunt also recruited and supervised comic book publisher Alex Hillman's political associate William F. Buckley, Jr. into the CIA.

Despite the difficulty in separating fact from fiction when it comes to Hunt, his potential influence over paperback and periodical publishers of this period is woefully under-researched. The New York Times got it right way back in 1973: his work is an example of "covertly political novels; propaganda designed to influence feelings about real events by evoking the unpurged portions of the unconscious", explaining further:

Obviously a vast domestic and international cultural struggle went on, both overtly and secretly; novel against novel, comic strip against comic strip, television play against. Hunt's books are one manifestation of this struggle; cultural disinformation.

We'll ponder the implications of that rather eyebrow-raising tidbit another time, but suffice it to say that the 1964 election cycle represented a level-up in terms of sophistication and tactics across all media, including print.

In the middle of this election-year chaos, former MLJ/Archie editor and Madam Satan creator Abner Sundell took part in developing a feature article for Pageant Magazine consisting of a list of the most-effective and least-effective members of Congress as chosen by (as he would later respond to Congressional inquiries) respondents to a questionnaire sent to 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and 220 members of the Washington press corps.

The poll results were published by Pageant Magazine less than three weeks before the November 3 elections that year. Almost concurrently, the article was excerpted in newspapers across the nation, and reprinted and distributed by various political operatives in numerous Congressional districts setting off a firestorm of controversy as to the veracity and aims of the poll, followed promptly by a Congressional Committee hearing on December 17, 1964.

As the editor of Pagent, Abner Sundell was one of the people in the crosshairs of Congress's wrath. We have a catch-phrase in the current era for this genre of circumstances that applies pretty well here: Life comes at you fast. One week you're working on a magazine which had by that time become a combination of glamour models, sensationalized politics, and tabloid headlines as seen through a Beatnik filter and a couple of weeks later you've got an angry United States Congress Special Committee breathing down your neck in the wake of Lyndon B. Johnson's re-election.

Representative Roman C. Pucinski's (D, Illinois) letter to the Special Committee sums up the thrust of the inquiries:

There is no question in my mind that publication of the results of this alleged survey less than 3 weeks before the election was designed to affect the outcome of the election in the districts and States of those Members of Congress involved in the "least effective" category.

I am making this request of your committee because, on the basis of my own inquiries among a large segment of those Members of the House whom I could contact, and on the basis of similar inquiries conducted by other Members of the Congress of the United States and the Washing press corps, I am unable to find a single Member of the Congress or member of the press corps who had participated in this alleged survey.

A reading of the testimony and evidence presented that day leaves one with the almost inescapable conclusion that the poll had been falsified. Of course, the evidence presented is largely one-sided, but that's because the entire staff of Pageant had avoided U.S. Marshalls attempting to serve them with subpoenas to testify.

Comprehensive efforts revealed that no members of the press and only one congressional staffer would admit to answering the poll. In the absence of their live testimony at the hearing, registered letters from various Pageant Magazine staffers including Sundell were introduced into evidence. A prevalent point driven home by many of these letters was that the returned poll forms had been destroyed "to protect the anonymity of participants". Further, the congressional staffer who had previously been identified as responding to the poll flatly denied it under oath and made the obvious observation that it's unlikely that any member of Congress would vote a colleague of the same party as ineffective for a national media poll in an election year. That line of thinking would make the Democrat-heavy "least effective" lists an odd result at best since Democrats held the majority in both the House and the Senate at that time.

And beyond the poll itself, an analysis of the accompanying article is fascinating when examined in the light of the subsequent 55 years of history.

A quote from Walter Lippmann early on in the article catches my attention: "reason to wonder whether the Congressional system as it now operates is not a grave danger to the Republic."

One of the most influential columnists of the 20th century, we now know that Lippmann was also covertly involved in America's propaganda efforts (pdf) in both World Wars and beyond. He literally wrote the book on the use of propaganda to further the stability of democratic nations, coining the term "manufacturing consent" in the process. Most infamously, Lippmann utilized his techniques and considerable influence to nudge public opinion towards accepting the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. At the dawn of the era which led to this 1964 election, he also popularized phrases such as Cold War, and fascinatingly enough helped mainstream the term True Believers.

All of which is to say that his inclusion here feels like a tell. But is this yet another example of the LBJ campaign's comprehensive efforts to ensure a landslide for Democrats, in the same way that another controversial poll in a publication called Fact Magazine seems to have been? The fact that Macfadden-Bartell publisher Gerald Bartell was then LBJ VP running mate Hubert Humphrey's radio-TV campaign director and begged off questions about the poll by saying he hadn't seen the data because he'd been on the campaign trail with Humphrey would tend to support that conclusion.

But an examination of the article itself tells a very different story. The tenor of the piece can be summed up in the undisguised symbolism used to discuss the Member of Congress supposedly named as least effective by the poll:

There was little quibbling as to who was the least effective member of the House. The Representatives joined the press in placing that dubious distinction around the neck of New York's Adam Clayton Powell, the contentious, repeatedly elected Democrat from Harlem.

There's no question that the "around the neck" phrasing was purposeful. Powell, the fourth Black person to be elected to Congress in the 20th century, was instrumental in getting an anti-lynching bill approved by the House of Representatives. The bill was defeated by the Senate at that time and incredibly, similar bills were subsequently defeated almost 200 times in later decades.

Although most of the Senators and House members who testified felt at the time that the Pageant Magazine poll did not affect the outcome of the election, it did create considerable controversy around the country and seems to have been designed to target Congressmen who would create the maximum amount of furor. In addition to the obvious messaging against Adam Powell, the poll also targeted Senator William Proxmire (who replaced Joseph McCarthy upon that Senator's death, and angered many by breaking with protocol and calling the notorious Senator a "disgrace to Wisconsin, to the Senate, and to America"), Wilber D. Mills (Arkansas Democrat who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee),Hale Boggs (House Majority Whip), and the always-controversial Senator Strom Thurmond.

If the poll seemingly had little hope of changing the outcome of the election of such individual members of Congress, what was its goal? A reading of the article itself in the context of subsequent political history leads to some possible conclusions. In addition to the attack on Powell, the article hits some very specific themes in regards to Southern Democrats:

Thus ten of the 16 standing committees in the Senate are headed by veteran southern [Democrat] Senators, who rarely have more than token Republican opposition at the polls. Critics of the seniority rules are quick to point out that the 39 states not in the South hold only six chairmanships.

More or less the same situation applies to the House. Several key committee chairmanships are held by southern Democrats, including the powerful Ways and Means and Armed Services committees.

Many lawmakers were in favor of a change in the rule permitting unlimited debate in the Senate a rule that enabled southern Senators to stage a two-month talkathon on the Civil Rights Bill before the rest of the Senate, in an historic move, voted 71 to 29 to invoke cloture and shut off the flow of windy rhetoric.

An Alabama lawmaker said "Rule changes are not needed to make for a better job by Congress. Less pressure from minorities would be instrumental in getting legislative programs acted upon."

A New Jersey Representative said, "You may think I am being facetious, but I would say a change in administration and for the first time in years and years have a Republican majority."

That supposed New Jersey Representative didn't get his wish in 1964. LBJ won the presidential election by a record margin,and gains in both the House and the Senate maintained a supermajority for Democrats in Congress. The subsequent era saw the passage of Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act.

That level of mandate from voters perhaps made this Congressional Committee in December 1964 less attuned to some of the details here than they otherwise might have been. For example, this election was the first since the 1870s for which Republicans dominated the deep South. And then notably, Thurmond switched parties to become a Republican after this election and went on to become the longest-serving Republican member of Congress in U.S. history. Senator Lindsey Graham is the successor of Thurmond's South Carolina Senate seat.

The Pageant Magazinearticle's focus on Southern Democrats and its virtually undisguised commentary on race, along with Goldwater's rally tactics in the South, lead one to one possible conclusion. The Goldwater campaign of this election cycle brought the dawn of what later became known as the Southern Strategy. With the benefit of hindsight, aspects of the Pageant Magazine controversy feel like a harbinger of things to come.

In the interest of completeness, I should note that Barry Goldwater and one of Abner Sundell's former employers, John L. Goldwater (the "J" in MLJ/Archie) were typically described as "distant relatives" in mainstream media reports over the years, though I took a quick glance at and didn't spot the connection. In this case, it's unlikely to be meaningful in any event except in the broader sense that some of the other connections presented here likely are: print media was both much more influential and a much smaller world 50+ years ago. Familiar and forgotten comics publishers like Fawcett, Dell, Hillman, Ace, Martin Goodman's various imprints, and countless others developed highly successful paperback and magazine lines. Such conditions are likely to lead to strange connections and alliances, both intended and otherwise.

Gerald Bartell's motivations for seemingly going against his party in this controversy never became clear, and the 1964 election matter quickly vanished amidst what became a series of controversies that both he and Pageant Magazine seemed to generate. For example, in 1968, Pageant found itself a target of federal prosecutors for a story that year that boldly promoted a cure for cancer invented by the Rand Development Corporation (not to be confused with this other RAND Corporation). And just because this story isn't strange enough yes, Rand Development Corporation was subsequently shown to have numerous documentable ties to the CIA.

These bizarre twists and turns that Pageant took through the 1960s also bring the road not traveled to mind: EC Comics and Mad Magazine founder Bill Gaines would later state that Pageant had offered comics industry legend Harvey Kurtzman the job of running the magazine as its editor. Gaines said he changed Mad's format from a comic book to a magazine in part to help him retain the astoundingly talented Kurtzman.

That also provides some context for the magazine choosing another editor with deep comics industry experience in Abner Sundell. Throughout the country's earlier history, cartoonists had done much to shape public opinion about politics and current events. For example, comic artist Thomas Nast was likely the most formidable political commentator of the 19th century. That print media seemed to be looking to expand that sort of meme magic beyond the panel border a century later is perhaps unsurprising.

Former comic book publisher Alex Hillman died in 1967, having amassed a stunning and world-class collection of fine art including works by Matisse, Braque, Mir, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso. In 1984, The New York Times noted that Hillman "came to art collecting through the artists that he, as a publisher, commissioned to illustrate new editions of the classics".

In the 1970s, Hillman's wife Rita Hillman was sometimes described as one of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's closest friends. One news item from the era has a reporter rather breathlessly noting that Hillman's arrival at an event invariably means that Jackie must not be far behind. It's hard to know what to make of the wife of one of the architects of modern American conservatism being pals with the wife of one of the most revered Democrats in American history, except perhaps that it proves that "politics makes strange bedfellows" cliche once again.

One of Hillman's legacies, the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation, contributes grants in the areas of medical science and health care to this day.

As for Abner Sundell, all of this begs the question: did the original managing editor of MLJ/Archie, creator of Steel Sterling and Madam Satan among others, and the editor who helped oversee the debut of Archie and his gang knowingly play a contributing role in a political propaganda campaign that would presage something notorious in subsequent years?

While that's far from clear, the circumstances are eyebrow-raising. Evidence presented that day in December 1964 revealed that the original draft submitted by a freelance writer was substantially altered at the Pageant Magazine offices notably, the "placing that dubious distinction around the neck of New York's Adam Clayton Powell, the contentious, repeatedly elected Democrat from Harlem" line was added at the Pageant offices, according to the Special Committee report. Not by Sundell, but it happened on his watch. All told, it's hard to imagine that he didn't have a sense of the methodology and intent of this piece in one of his magazines.

And ironically from the present-day perspective, the same pre-election issue of Pageant also contained a piece called "Farewell, Paper Ballots", which noted the gradual rise of mechanical voting machines while waxing nostalgic about what good fun could be had by making funny remarks on hand-marked paper ballots. While admitting that this could lead to ballots being thrown out, the piece concluded "And truthfully, nobody was really ever harmed by what was clearly innocent fun."

That said, sifting through the available evidence, it also seems clear that Sundell's superiors at Macfadden-Bartell had nudged their managing editor into being the public face of the controversy. He was the one answering angry letters from powerful members of Congress and getting torched in newspapers around the country. The big picture here as much of it as I can see, anyway leaves me with the impression that he may have been tip-toeing among the political giants of his era, was pulled into something over his head, and found himself hoping not to be noticed too much. He still likely deserves a portion of the responsibility for the 1964 Pagent controversy, as it's difficult to get around the fact that he was the magazine's editor.

Still, a subsequent news story seems revelatory in this regard. The controversy took its toll on Sundell, and he had resigned from Pageant Magazine by the next summer. He then announced to great fanfare in the press that he intended to become a painter. Sundell's surprisingly raw stream of conscious statement to an AP reporter in 1966 feels like an account from someone who'd gone through something and was unburdening himself:

"I got to wondering was it worth it", he explained. "I used to sit on the commuter train and ask myself why why the hell am I killing myself."

"seeing my blood pressure go way up, working until 8 or 9 or later every night, watching my relationship with my family deteriorate, all kinds of pressures. You lose your freedom of choice, freedom to do and be what you want. It's a rat trap. You have to cut it off, live with yourself, measure up to your own values."

"You know, it's the old question, what have you ever done in your life? What good are you? At some point you have to answer it. And this way I can answer that maybe I've added a little beauty, a little joy."

"[My boss] was surprised all right, but he could see my point. He knew I had to do this thing. I had to really live before it came my time to die."

It appears that Sundell didn't quite make it financially as a painter. Keeping a relatively low profile, he returned to publishing-related endeavors a short time later. Among other things, he collaborated on two art history books Art in America: from Colonial Days to the 19th Century, and Modern Art in America which are widely referenced in educational and history texts.

As if attempting to answer those "What good are you?" questions he posed to himself in 1966, Sundell seems to have lived out a portion of his later years traveling and painting. Attempting to add "a little beauty, a little joy before it came my time to die."

If Abner Sundell ever explained what exactly did happen in 1964, I've yet to find a sign of it. But perhaps he just poured all that frustration and stress into his art. A critic at a gallery showing of his work once said:

There is a frank admission of his sources in the past, yet these have been assimilated and absorbed into a personal expression. Evident in all these pictures is a single point of view, a common vision. They are the work of a sensitive man, who has found his means of expressing his responses to the visible world.

As far as I can tell, this writer and editor who played an important role in the early comics industry at Archie and beyond, never connected with fandom as it began to boom in the 1970s and beyond.

Abner Sundell died in 2001.

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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The FBI, Comic Pros and the Fake News Controversy of the 1964 Election - Bleeding Cool News

Posted in Fake News | Comments Off on The FBI, Comic Pros and the Fake News Controversy of the 1964 Election – Bleeding Cool News

A Tale as old as Time: Proliferation of ‘fake news’ may have even preceded the birth of Christ | Recto Mercene – Business Mirror

Posted: at 12:42 am

MISINFORMATION and deception have been practiced, perhaps even before Christ was born. And today, the same nefarious activity has reappeared, this time, sporting a new tag called infodemic, or fake news. But regardless of the name, this art of deception today has spread exponentially, thanks to social media, said award-winning veteran journalist Manny Mogato.

Misinformation, or infodemic, has the same ill effects of creating chaos, confusion and even hysteria, Mogato said during a recent webinar, Countering Infodemic in this Pandemic, sponsored by the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Philippines, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Blogwatch, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Philippine Press Institute, Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, and Center for Peoples Media. The media partners are DZUP 1602 and the BusinessMirror.

Three speakers were asked for their opinion on how to counter misinformation, and Mogato lamented that fake news is now practiced by some of the highest officials of the land.

But journalists are guilty of spreading fake news through anonymous websites, which then get shared in secret platforms like WeChat, Messenger (or maybe the so-called dark web). He added that social-media users share these tidbits and the media pick them up as gospel news.

Mogatos advice to combat disinformation, fake news and infodemic is to always be skeptical of what we pick up in the social media.

HE said that to access the truth, we must adopt what the printed media had been doing for decades before social media took the upper hand, which is to check the facts.

There are also fact-checking tools available, he said, and one of them is called Snopes.

Snopes, formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking website. It has been described as a well-regarded reference for sorting out myths and rumors on the Internet. It has also been seen as a source for validating and debunking urban legends and similar stories in American popular culture, according to Wikipedia.

A list of fact-checkers are:; 2.; 3. InVID; 4. Reverse Image Search (TinEye); 5. Hoaxy; 6. Wolfram|Alpha; 7. twXplorer; and 8.

The next time you read an article online, you can quickly double check to see if the claims youre reading about are factual and legitimate. With a bit of elbow grease and by fiddling around with one or two of the above tools, you can find the right tool-chain that works for you. We dont have to be journalists or reporters, but it falls on us to perform our own due diligence that goes beyond Google to dig deeper.

Mogato, who also teaches journalism, added, The world, including the Philippines, needs an accurate, reliable, fair and impartial information, not only during the pandemic but in all aspects of life; politics, economy, the environment, culture and in our social interaction.

Sadly, journalists no longer control access to information as ordinary people now rely more on social media and other platforms for information, which are not all true, accurate and reliable.

In 1970 during the Watergate scandal, he said the Americans trust in media was a high of 70 percent. In Europe, news media are better trusted, except in France and the UK, which have a trust rating of 23 and 28 percent respectively, based on a Reuters Institute survey this year.

Finland and Portugal have the highest trust rating among EU member states.

In the same Reuters digital survey, Southeast Asian countries have much lower trust ratings among the 40 countries surveyed.

MOGATO said the proliferation of fake news is worse in the Philippines, and the spread has been blamed on politicians.

This is because the Philippines now gets information from the Internet and social media rather than the traditional television and newspapers. He noted that Filipinos often use their tablets and mobile phones to access news.

Mogato cited a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology saying, fake news travel faster and wider than accurate, reliable information in the traditional media.

THE other speaker, Christian Esguerra, academician and ANC anchor, gave five approaches to counter misinformation:

1. law and punishment

2. correctional action and advisory

3. social responsibility

4. cross-country referencing

5. science and rationality.

The above are self-explanatory, and Esguerra said that world leaders cannot afford to crack jokes, or make light of serious situations.

He cited the case of President Duterte who was once quoted as saying, kerosene and gasoline can be used as disinfectant. He recalled that the President also said people could make or re-use face mask.

This, Esguerra warned, could actually have grave repercussions on those who trust the President too much.

On the other hand, the Palace Spokesman, Harry Roque, corrected the Presidents statement, telling the Filipino people that those who know or have been aware of the President know pretty well that he is joking.

Esguerra also cited two other officials who allegedly made false claims: Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo remarked once that bananas contain chemicals that could destroy the virus; while Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Listerine, a mouthwash, will also suffice to kill the pathogen.

Esguerra did not spare the Church as a source of fake news, citing retired Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City, who said, while celebrating Mass on September 23: If we love ourselves without being selfish, if we have this kind of love, you dont have to worry about anything, even if you dont wear mask. You dont need to be scared.

Esguerra said, The combination of the metaphysical and the physical coming from an archbishop, especially in trying to inspire the faithful, was quite blunt. This is a very serious problem we are facing; even the Pope was seen wearing a mask.

Esguerra offered concrete steps to counter misinformation.

1. Fact checking should be beefed up since one cant rely on social media. The media need to step up and beef up fact checking to contain misinformation.

2. Media practitioners should reassess the effect of the pandemic and come up with a template on how to report the pandemic since health issues become more pronounced during a pandemic. He warned people against being pawns of those with selfish interests. He said many doctors tell us what to do, but the deeper issues on pandemic must be consulted with the experts.

3. Coverage of health issues must be strengthened, especially those covering the health beats. We should reassess the communication tools while reporting the pandemic as this would not be the last of it.

Moderator Joyce Panares agreed that the media must beef up coverage and likewise hold regular face-to-face meetings with experts. Zoom is not conducive for media because we are not able to ask tough questions.

Michael Resende, cofounder of Reporting International, cited the enormous capacity of social media to:

1. reach enormous amount of people,

2. speed,

3. far more information available.

In the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, several cases of misinformation were created, such as, that the United States created the virus, or it came up due to the Chernobyl disaster.

The virus is not dangerous, and coronavirus is a tool to introduce tyranny, because science has collapsed, was among the other pieces of misinformation he cited.

Resende listed the threats of an infodemic as:

1. health risk

2. hate speech

3. consumer fraud,

4. cybercrime (phishing attacks);

5. foreign influence operations

6. conspiracy theories.

One important lesson the media learned, according to Resende, is that, We should be prepared, we should not be surprised.

He said disinformation and fake news are threats to democracy and undermine trust in all institutions.

He advocates a methodological approach, which means to treat infodemic with a healthy dose of skepticism.

His advice to counter infodemic:

Check the source, who is speaking and make sure youre not deceived.

He cited among the sources of legitimate news BBC online, which has a 50-percent approval. The 65 percent, however, get their news from the so-called side-door access.

This is described thus: Most people get their news through side-doors. Side-ways access of news via search engines, social media, or other forms of distributed discovery can obscure the producers of news content and create openings for various purveyors of disinformation.

Resende said the EU has a Democracy Action Plan, which includes: proposed legislation on paid political advertising 2011, provision of algorithm transparency, reporting duties of social media companies and digital literacy.

Whats needed? Resende proposed an All-of-society approach which means:

Empowered government agencies, civil society, media, academia in networks, social-media companies connected to the ecosystem, and a good educational system.

Continued here:

A Tale as old as Time: Proliferation of 'fake news' may have even preceded the birth of Christ | Recto Mercene - Business Mirror

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The Hindu journalist accused of publishing fake news because his wife was not given insurance business: Details – OpIndia

Posted: at 12:42 am

Sanchaita Gajapati, Chairperson at MGVR Learning, has alleged that The Hindu journalist K Srinivasa Rao has engaged in biased reporting against MANSAS Trust after she refused to give the insurance business for MANSAS to his wife. She said that the biased reporting was part of a fake news campaign against her. She has attached screenshot of text messages which purportedly show The Hindu journalist imploring to consider engaging the insurance services provided by her wife.

The attached screenshots show Sanchaita Gajapati receiving texts that say that many industrialists and VIP families are exploring LIC policies. The sender also informs her that his wife is an advisor at LIC. The texts also inform her of the benefits of the policies. Gajapati, who is also the chairperson of the Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Simhachalam, claims that Srinivasa Rao proceeded to publish fake news against her because she refused the business proposal.

Only recently, Raos report had been published on The Hindu with the headline MANSAS loses peoples trust in 2020. The Maharaja Alak Narayana Society of Arts and Science (MANSAS) Trust was established by P.V.G. Raju in 1958 for the purpose of providing higher education. Gajapati said, Reporters like K Srinivasa Rao who believe in quid pro quo journalism are a blot on this (The Hindus) news legacy.

There is also internal feud between the members of the Royal Family of Vizianagaram as Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju objected to his removal as the Chairperson of the institution and the appointment of Sanchaita Gajapati Raju in the same as he had claimed only male heirs of the MANSAS family are eligible to head the MANSAS trust as per the by-laws.

See the article here:

The Hindu journalist accused of publishing fake news because his wife was not given insurance business: Details - OpIndia

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