What if I were to tell you that, “President Trump Declares War on California!” Would you believe it? Would you even read the article or would you just click the little ‘share now’ button? Well, believe it or not, that little false statement of mine is apart of America’s current problem… Fake News.
Many people ask, “What is this ‘Fake News’?” Well, so-called fake news can come in many different forums. Such programs like Saturday Night Live’s (SNL) Weekend Update or The Onion focus on making fake news based on comedy or satire. These articles or skits are mainly used as forms of entertainment. While others may focus on producing ‘clickbait’. Article titles such as “The Secret They Don’t Want You to Know” or “The Trick They Hate” can be found all over Facebook, and on tabloids, such as Globe. These ‘clickbait’ titles are meant to get the best of their reader. They make the article seem so enticing that you have to click it. Only to be disappointed. Disappointed because you either saw/watched 30 seconds of ads for a lie or you actually bought that tabloid. Quoting Jim Gaffigan, “…momentary pleasure followed by incredible guilt…” (Mr. Universe) That is all clickbait really is, it’s false information that we are so desperately curious about… only to be lied to.
Now one may be asking, “Can we stop it?”. Well, it is hard to fully stop it, without limiting Freedom of Speech & Press, but companies are doing there best to limit it. Facebook is one of these companies and it is done so by introducing human fact checkers in its new usage policies, back in 2016. Users can also be the ones to stop the spread of this fake news. By doing our own part in not clicking on the link that looks like a scam and not sharing it. If everyone did this, it is possible to extremely limit or even put a stop to this false information. Until then, just keep on scrolling.
Many people use satire to express and exaggerate points and ideas, people may use it for humor. This can cause an unwanted focus of negative attention to the person getting targeted. This brings the question of is there a line between satire and libel. People argue that satire is a way to humor and criticize people, the news, and the government. Which is protected under the First Amendment, but can this go too far. One Example of this happening is Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell. In this court case the company Hustler Magazine known for there pornography magazine started to put inappropriate ads of Jerry Falwell a well respected public preacher in there magazine. These Ads of him would include pictures of Jerry having drunk sexual encounters with mother and also other men. Obviously people knew this was not true but Jerry Falwell felt as if he and his career were getting targeted. Jerry Falwell tried suing Hustler Magazine but didn’t get anything out of it. One way that satire is acceptable is when it is being used in the right way. You may be thinking that there is no “right way” to use satire but I believe that when it is used to target someone and push humor to someone that is irrelevant just hurts someones image, spreading fake news in a way. Talk show comedians such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah are excerpts in using satire to make there shows knowledgeable and entertaining. They do a good job of taking a topic that the public is familiar with, or explaining news that is currently happening so that everyone is on the same page for the joke. Then they will make fun of the topic by over exaggerating it and adding many sarcastic comments. What I like about these comedians is that they don’t make jokes at overly sensitive topics, and will let you know when they are being serious. This makes is so that there is no confusion they are making fun of something they shouldn’t have. This way of bringing news in an entertaining way has had a giant impact on how we perceive the news. Overall Using satire is a great way to lighten up topics and make jokes, but this humor needs to be obvious and appropriate. Because if you are not clear your words might be perceived and something else.
N.a. “Freedom of Speech – Why Satire is Protected – HG.org.” Hg.org. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=34438>
N.a. “Parody & satire.” Newseuminstitute.org. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <http://www.newseuminstitute.org/first-amendment-center/topics/freedom-of-speech-2/arts-first-amendment-overview/parody-satire/>
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. “How Jon Stewart changed the world.” Bbc.com. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150806-how-jon-stewart-changed-the-world>
There are many sources of satire in media today that come in a variety of different forms, from articles to television. Two very popular sources are, The Onion, and Saturday Night Live. Both of these sources poke fun at a wide variety of topics, and no one is safe from the humor that they bring about. However, how far are they able to go before their statements turn into libel? Satire falls under the topic of “Fair Use” and therefore allows copyrighted works to be parodied. An ex-CTO of The Onion explains,” The Onion’s office walls are filled with letters from companies expressing delight in being satirized, not because they love it but because they cannot fight comedy. You can only defeat comedy by being funnier.”(1) SNL uses satire in the parodies that they make about companies, products, and people. Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center states, that Parodies are allowed to use more original context because they need lots of the original work in order to make a parody.
Satire can never be taken to far; it is a problem when it isn’t taken far enough. If something like a business is being ridiculed and the statement goes above and beyond to point out their every fault in an attempt to get people to laugh, that is better than it being similar to an actual representation of the business. If people are starting to believe that the statement is an actual, realistic model of the company, then it becomes a problem because it is turning into a defamatory statement. If people are going to believe a somewhat ridiculous statement, they should take the source of the statement into account. If the statement is coming from a show like SNL or is in an article by the onion, these statements should not be taken seriously at all. Sources that do not have a history of satire could be taken for libel. However, SNL and The Onion have a long history of satire, and therefore should not be taken seriously. When it comes down to deciding, could it be mistaken for a real model, or where is the statement coming from, are the two biggest factors that set the boundary between satire and libel.
How do the United State courts rule between satire and slander?
Living in a country where media is very prevalent in our lives sometimes fake news can get to carried away, but how do courts differentiate defamatory news between satire? According to Kelly and Warner Law they state,” The United States courts have made it abundantly clear: parody and satire are not defamatory”. It really depends on who is seeing these stories and how they take humor and sarcasm. Satire is the funny version of news and can you can tell that it is fake. The United States courts protect satire as part of the First Amendment because everyone has the right to express themselves as long as it doesn’t interfere with the reputation of others. Where as defamatory news can cause harm to a person’s image due to lies that are very believable and passed off as true.
One very important case of satire and defamation is when Falwell, a pastor, sued Larry Flynt for an ad published in Hustler magazine. The ad implied Falwell had a intimate relationship with his mother. When the case reached the Supreme court the judges sided with Larry Flynt. They explained that the ad was satire and didn’t hurt Falwell’s reputation because it very noticeable that it was fake and pure humor. Although in a defamation case where Rebel Wilson sued Bauer Media for falsely accusing her of lying about her age and childhood and portraying her as a “serial liar”. This false accusation cost her a lot of “damage” because she wasn’t able to get any jobs.
“Satire V. Defamation: What’s The Difference Between Satire & Defamation?.” Kelly / Warner Law | Defamation Law, Internet Law, Business Law. N. p., 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
“‘It’S Important To Stand Up To Bullies’: Rebel Wilson Wins Record Amount In Defamation Case.” Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
” Defamation And Satire | Media Law Journal.” Medialawjournal.co.nz. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
Should satire be allowed? The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live are some of our favorite television shows. All of these television shows are common examples of satire. These shows have made way into our homes, and helped us learn about politics and other information while making fun of them and giving us laughter as we learn. The definition of satire, according to Google, is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Satire is sometimes questioned on whether it should be allowed in places or television. Some people believe that it gives false information to people and can affect their life in a bad way. In 2008, Pew Research Center released a study that listed Jon Stewart as the fourth most trusted American journalist. There is a lot of criticism on this, because Jon Stewart is mostly known for his satire, making fun of other people or giving false information on politics. Jon Stewart responded by saying that he does not share false stories, his impressions are false. People who support satire say that it is informative, and it explains issues and politics in a comedic way, or makes fun of something. Also, people say that it is a right. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution gives people freedom of speech; it gives people a chance to state their beliefs to society. Some people feel like their beliefs are wrong when satire pokes at their values and calls them stupid for believing something.
Most of America agrees with me, in that satire should be allowed. It is apart of our freedom of speech. A lot of it can be informative, and it doesn’t mean you have to have the same beliefs. Satire is funny and informative, and helps make people’s lives better, while teaching us about politics.
Hg.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 19 Feb. 2018.
“Jon Stewart On The Value Of Political Satire.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. N. p., 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2018.
Throughout history, there has been many examples of Satire, or as it is more commonly know today as Fake News. You hear and see it all over the place whether it be on TV or on Facebook and other things like that. They use catchy titles and then once people are in they give them information that they know is either true or false but the reader doesn’t always know. In today’s day and age, there is so many places to get news from but because of that people don’t know whether it’s real or fake news. With all of this this you may wonder, is Satire protected under the first amendment? In 1988, there was a magazine named Hustler Magazine that posted pictures of nude women and political satire among other things. They posted a head shot of a man named Jerry Falwell and put certain words together that he actually said but in a different order about a sexual accouter. Falwell claimed it ruined his reputation and tried to sue Hustler for publishing it. The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of Hustler because he did nothing wrong and no one in their right mind would believe the story to be factual.
Many people use Satire for their shows or blogs so people read them or watch them. In turn, if people read and see something they don’t like or agree with, they automatically call it fake news. Nobody knows what is true or not but to be fair, a lot of what you see is satire. People make livings off of satire, such as Stephen Colbert. A lot of people believe everything he says to be true.
“Hustler Magazine V. Falwell.” En.wikipedia.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 3 Oct. 2017.
Gioria, Ted. “The Death of Satire.” July 2015.
Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. We see satire all around the media today from The Onion to TV shows like John Oliver and The Daily Show. These are primarily examples of satire, but what makes these satire instead of fake news? Fake news is one of the biggest things on social media nowadays. Fake news is false information that refers to propaganda and false information under the guise of being authentic news. The first amendment states, under freedom of speech, that the government must respect citizens’ rights to express themselves, therefore satire is protected by the first amendment. The main reason for media is for people to be informed on what is going on in the world. Is fake news protected by the first amendment or is it an example of slander/libel? Many past presidential elections have been won because of fake news. For example, many Republican websites posted claims about Hillary Clinton this past election helping boost Trump’s support.
The question is: What is the difference between fake news and satire, and what separates the two? Satire is used for a corrective purpose to point out why things are wrong. One of satire’s purposes is to inform viewers on what is actually going on in today’s world. When comparing satire and fake news, the title of fake news says it all. Fake news is fake with no purpose to inform whatsoever. In a study by the website “techdirt” called, Yet Another Study Shows US Satire Programs Do A Better Job Informing Viewers Than Actual News Outlets., many surveys have been done showing that satire news has better informed people than regular news stations like Fox and CNN. Instead of choosing the left or the right side of politics, satire shows all sides of every story. Fake news is false information that misinforms many people and can be very dangerous.