Fact Checking the Fact Checkers: When The New York Times Went Off the Rails

By Patricia Burke

Industry and regulators are noting that significant numbers of Americans (as well as citizens from other nations) are becoming concerned about 5G Fifth Generation telecommunications infrastructure.  This week, in fact 180,000 individuals are already participating in The 5G Crisis and Awareness Summit.

It’s not too late to tune in.

In an alternative universe, let’s say that President Trump was to make the claim in a Twitter storm that the source of opposition to 5G is the U.S. is an U.K. or Canadian misinformation campaign? Or, maybe because Australia or New Zealand both want to beat the United States in the race to 5G, they are misleading innocent Americans?

Or maybe its Israel, or France, or Germany that wants to win “the race” by hampering 5G “progress” in the U.S.?

Or, let’s say that President Trump was to tweet to his constituents that it’s Russia’s fault that some portion of Americans are opposing 5G infrastructure because of all of those on-line trolls.

The claim that the Russians are behind the 5G misinformation campaign, and the implications that witless Americans are falling for fake posts from Russia because Russia is jealous of America’s greatness, did not come from President Trump.

It came from an organization that is promoting itself as an authority in fact checking for the upcoming presidential election.

It came from an article in The New York Times, in May of 2019.

Then on July 30th, The New York Times published: “How We Fact-Check in an Age of Misinformation  — On the eve of another round of presidential debates, it’s not just the candidates and the incumbent that The Times is scrutinizing.”

On August 28th, LawFareNews published an extensive overview of legislative actions in the U.S. re: 5G, “What Congress Is (And Isn’t) Doing on 5G.” by Margaret Thayer of the Brookings Institute.

Finally, highly localized decision-making could leave 5G efforts more vulnerable to foreign disinformation and other tactics used by adversaries to slow down or impair the United States’s efforts on 5G. For example, in May, the New York Time sreported that Russian propaganda outlet RT America is ramping up efforts to spread unsubstantiated fears about 5G’s potential dire health threats, including “brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors, and Alzheimer’s disease.” RT has run seven programs in 2019 alone on the topic, including an April 14 segment falsely reporting that children exposed to 5G cellphone towers may suffer cancer, nosebleeds and learning disabilities. Unlike China, which has been building an economic advantage in the 5G space for years, Russia occupies a weak place in the 5G ecosystem. Its only way to compete economically is to undermine and discredit the United States’s 5G efforts.

The campaign to spark bogus worries over 5G’s health effects has already had some success: Concerns about 5G have been raised at the local level and by at least one senator at a public hearing.

How many fact checkers could a fact checker check if a fact checker could check facts? vs. “Fake News”

If this is the type research, investigation, journalism, and analysis that serves as the foundation to our decision-making, election, and 5G policy decisions, we are SO SCREWED.

Meanwhile, over at Medium, there is outstanding reporting by Devra Davis, including 2 articles addressing the unsubstantiated NYT reporting on 5G, and outdated radio frequency exposure levels for cellphones.

And, the Chicago Tribune (article with video), which does not appear to have compromised its integrity because of an extensive partnership with Verizon, or massive advertising from the telecommunications industry, or financial holdings by members of its board of directors, has just researched whether or not cellphones meet the FCC guidelines.

And, as always, Activist Post has been providing extensive coverage from many perspectives, including security, privacy, safety, cost, and health risks.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

The NYT wrote:

Neither party has a claim on factual purity. But that’s not to say their sins against accuracy are equivalent in the era of Mr. Trump, who stands alone in his tendency to spin up his own reality and to do so in ways that go far beyond misstating a statistic or blurring an old policy position.

Given the power of the presidency and the platform he commands, Mr. Trump’s departures from the truth have substantial consequences for policy, politics and the nature of our democracy.


The Times is also confronting a related and fast-evolving challenge: the proliferation of online disinformation (untruths that are deliberately disseminated to sway people) and misinformation (false or misleading content that spreads on its own).

It is one thing to keep track of statements made by a relatively finite number of high-profile political figures. It is quite another to identify and assess a torrent of made-up, distorted, malicious or mischievous tweets, Facebook posts, videos and other material that misleads or inflames.

Given the power of The New York Times, and the platform it commands, the newspaper’s departures from the truth have “substantial consequences for policy, politics and the nature of our democracy.”

And in case we’re looking for a new scapegoat to blame for Americans’ growing concern about 5G, those pesky New Zealanders are trying to convince the world that celltowers affect property values.

13 minute video
Published on Aug 26, 2019

NZ telco 2degrees claims that cell phone towers do not devalue property prices! Is this true? Or just industry propaganda designed to make you feel better about the fact that 2degrees are going to install a mobile phone base station just meters from your bedroom?

In this video we look at what the available research tells us about cell phone towers and property devaluation and put their claim to the test.

Image credit: Pixabay

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