After citing the history of political propaganda all the way back to colonial America, Koppel lamented Alex Jones’ controversial opinions and wide audience, asserting he “spreads the manure that fertilizes conspiracy theories all over the Internet.”
Koppel went on to air videos of Jones and tie him to the pizza-gate gunman, even after admitting Infowars was not the progenitor of the conspiracy.
TED KOPPEL: There’s nothing new, of course, about using media to commit political slander. In 1796, an anonymous editorial accused Thomas Jefferson of cowardice, of running away from British troops. The unidentified author? The current toast of Broadway: Alexander Hamilton.
It’s not the nastiness that’s new; it’s the delivery systems.
ALEX JONES (CLIP): ‘Pizzagate’ as it’s called, is a rabbit hole that is horrifying to go down.
KOPPEL: The charge, that Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, were running a child pornography ring out of the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant did not, as best we can tell, originate with Jones. The accuser remains anonymous. But that story had real consequences.
VOICEOVER (CLIP): Twenty-eight-year-old Edgar Welch, after driving from North Carolina, entered the pizzeria and fired shots from a semi-automatic rifle. No one was hurt. He told police he came to rescue child victim.
In an interview with Koppel, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest went on to compare banning fake news with yelling fire in a crowded theater, and said Americans are ready to accept “limitations on constitutional rights.”
“I think [the First Amendment is] always relevant, right? It’s the foundation of our democracy. But one of the things we accept as citizens of the United States, are reasonable and responsible limitations on our constitutional rights. For example, I think most famously, the Supreme Court has said, ‘You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater,’ because that could pose a threat to the public.”
“I think there is a lot of reason to be worried,” Turley told Koppel. “There’s no question that mainstream media is collapsing on many fronts. The competition from the Internet is insurmountable. But more importantly, people now have the ability to create their own personal echo chambers, to go to news sources that reaffirm their feelings. The question is, how do we solve that problem? The one way we can not do that is to look to the government. That is the siren’s call of censorship.”
CBS’ piece on “fake news” comes as social media giant Facebook has announced new censorship rules that will allow third parties to deem news articles as “disputed” on their website – yet another attempt to stifle independent media.