Denzel Washington is the epitome of cool and is widely respected as one of the most articulate and thoughtful actors in Hollywood.
Recently, on the red carpet for his latest film, "Fences," the Academy Award-winning actor perfectly summed up the current media landscape while responding to a question about fake news.
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uniformed,” he said. “If you do read it, you’re misinformed.”
Fake news is something Washington is familiar with as he himself was a victim of a false story that claimed he had switched his support from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election.
When the reporter asked what would be the solution to combat the misinformation that’s out there, Washington turned the tables back on the reporter and placed the responsibility on the media.
“What is the long-term effect of too much information?” he asked.
Washington pointed out that current media trends have prioritized expediency over accuracy.
"We live in a society now where it’s just first,” he said. “Who cares? Get it out there. We don’t care who it hurts, we don’t care who we destroy, we don’t care if it’s true. Just say it, sell it. Anything you practice you'll get good at — including BS.”
I pray to be this composed and articulate someday. Bodied her with the utmost respect ?????? pic.twitter.com/K3OrKNGawL— ?T???e? ?N?e?r?d (@Word2Nerd) December 13, 2016
The clip has since been retweeted nearly 40,000 times with user @Word2Nerd captioning it: “I pray to be this composed and articulate someday. Bodied her with the utmost respect.”
It is no accident that the rise of fake news and the election of Donald Trump coincided. Trump’s modus operandi is to make things up, and traditional journalism has been unable to keep up with his fabrications.
With people being bombarded with information at virtually every waking moment, the choice now, as Washington succinctly put it, is between being uninformed and being misinformed.
People have largely put the blame on the readers, most of whom blindly accept what they read as fact, without making any effort to verify its accuracy. It’s how a gunman ends up targeting a pizzeria over a false story about a Clinton child sex conspiracy, or how the president-elect’s son tweets about a Bernie Sanders supporter being paid to disrupt Trump election rallies.
But should it really be the reader’s responsibility to separate fact from fiction?
Is it fair to expect the average reader to come home after a long day of work and dissect the news he or she hears on television or reads in the newspapers?
The root of the problem lies somewhere with news becoming a business, rather than a public service, and a large part of that business is to give the public what it wants. It’s a race for getting the most eyeballs or the most clicks of the mouse, with the truth relegated to playing second fiddle.
Fake news is that trend taken to its logical conclusion, where its intent is not to present an alternative truth, but to do away with truth entirely and create a fact-free world in which there is no defense against lies.
That is undoubtedly a dangerous place, and it's where we all now live.