What is Fake News? Did the Pope Really Say Jesus Was Only a Metaphor?

What is fake news? Fake news is news that is…fake. Rocket science, we know. Fake news is deliberate misinformation  – sometimes completely fabricated – and reporting that is disguised as real news.

Some categorize fake news into seven different categories. These include:

  1. Satire or Parody
  2. False Connections (when headlines don’t match article content)
  3. Misleading content
  4. False content (purported facts, which are incorrect)
  5. Imposter content (when sources that are cited are real sources, but the thing cited is not real)
  6. Manipulated content (doctored photos)
  7. Fabricated content (that which is 100% false, and has no semblance of truth)

The accusation of “fake news” has been employed toward those engaging in fake news and has also been used by those who themselves are guilty of propagating fake news. During the 2016 presidential election, seven different online “news sites” in the nation of Macedonia employed teenagers to produce fake news, mostly beneficial to Donald Trump. However, leftist fact-checker sites like Snopes.com and FactCheck.org began to biasedly call legitimate pro-Trump reporting “fake news,” when in fact, much was not fake news. Donald Trump then popularized the phrase among conservatives, after calling CNN “fake news” at a press conference. Since then, the term has become a general insult towards any reporting that people do not like. Divorced from its original (and only reasonable) meaning, it has been employed wrongly toward:

  1. News reporting that people consider biased. Bias, however, does not make news “fake.”
  2. News that is provided with commentary. Providing commentary that includes opinions with facts reported doesn’t make the facts themselves fake.

For example, James White – the podcaster from Phoenix – has repeatedly referred to the factually-accurate reporting of the Christian News Network as “Yellow Journalism”* and recently, “slander,” for reporting that Apologia Church (where his daughter attends) raised funds through events that included both the selling of alcohol and through providing tattoos. The Christian News Network reported the facts accurately and quoted Dr. Sonny Hernandez – a Reformed Baptist Pastor – as expressing concerns that flaunting liberty when it comes to alcohol is dangerous. After Mr. White’s son-in-law, who was at the very center of the video that created (at least part of) the controversy, entered into rehab for substance abuse just a few short weeks later (and was soon divorced), White continued to attack the publication. The father of Chad Pinch, Mr. White’s former son-in-law, told the press,“If you don’t provide a safe place, and you put temptation in people’s way, that doesn’t really sound to me like you have that individual’s best interest in mind. Scripture says, ‘Flee the appearance [of evil].’ … It surprises me that church leaders flaunt their freedom in such a way that seems disparaging of another’s weaknesses.”

Instead of attacking journalists, it would have made far more sense for Mr. White to publicly repent for his error in judgment and unfortunate complicity in this terrible circumstance. Just because you don’t like what a publication prints, and even if you believe it is biased, does not make unassailable facts “fake.” For an accurate definition of slander, (which is not defined as “something I don’t like”) used by White two days ago toward the Christian News Network click here.

So what is an example of truly fake news?

An example of fake news has been circling around social media in recent days. As best we can tell, it originated in a post at YourNewsWire.com, and currently has 18 thousand shares on Facebook. According to that post, the Pope of Rome said that “Jesus is metaphorical, not literal.”

The article’s author, Baxter Dmitry, writes…

Pope Francis’s latest controversial statement – that “Jesus is metaphorical, not literal” – has pushed the Catholic Church to the verge of open mutiny, with multiple Vatican cardinals going on the record declaring Pope Francis is the false prophet foretold in holy scripture and prophecy emphasis theirs.

The statement made by Pope Francis during Holy Mass in the Vatican on Sunday is the latest in a long line of unconventional statements uttered by the pontiff since he ascended the highest office in the Catholic Church, becoming the first jesuit pope in history.

Dmitry then goes on to list a whole host of questionable statements made by the Pope, some of which are accurate and in context. However, there were no supporting hyperlinks or citations of the Pope’s words at Mass. A Google search reveals that every other publication that has picked up the story links back to a singular source – YourNewsWire. No video of the Pope saying these words has been forthcoming, and a YouTube video claiming the Pope said these words, including audio in which the words were repeated in a non-human, computerized voice. Facebook posts received hundreds of responses condemning the Pope based upon these words, but no one was able to produce a video, audio or transcript of the Pope saying these words quoted in only a partial quote from the original website.

The Vatican website actually posts all the public statements of the Pope. It indicates that he spoke on Sunday, November 19, at the “Lunch with the Poor.” It was not a regular Sunday Mass, as reported by the news site, and its full manuscript (in Italian) can be found here. We have translated it into English for you below.

Let’s get ready for this together. Each of us with a heart full of goodwill and friendship towards others, to share the lunch wishing us the best of each other. And now we pray to the Lord to bless: bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength. Amen. A blessing also to all those who are in the other meats [soup kitchens] around Rome, because Rome today is full of this [event]. A greeting and a applause to them from here!

While it is possible that the Pope had more than one event on Sunday, all that is recorded by the Vatican is this day-long affair. These are the only words of the Pope reported by Vatican or secular press, in any detail. It is worth noting that the Vatican has been caught changing his words when they release transcripts after Francis makes particularly controversial remarks. However, there’s no reason to believe the reports of the Pope actually having said these words unless actual evidence presents itself.

The Pope is still (at least) the spirit and foreshadow of the antichrist. So there’s that. But it appears that the recent news about him has been fake.

*Yellow Journalism is a term first applied as an insult toward Joseph Pulitzer, for whom the most prestigious award in journalism would go on to be named, the Pulitzer Prize. For more information, click here.



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