Notes on fake news (1)

On Monday I am scheduled to make a presentation on the subject of “fake news” to our local Cardozo Society chapter. The society is an affinity group of Jewish lawyers. I am a member of the group. Unlike the past president of the Hair Club for Men (now Hair Club), I can’t say I’m both an owner and a client, but that’s the idea. It will make me nervous to speak to a group whose membership includes me and bright attorneys whom I respect. In the matter of fake news, however, I plan to present two case studies that take advantage of my own experience writing for Power Line — Rathergate and the smearing of Cleta Mitchell. I should be able to do that.

I was asked to participate in Monday’s program to serve as a counterpart or counterpoint to the featured speaker, Victoria Saker Woeste. Ms. Woeste is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. She offers a perspective that is represented by her Washington Post column “The anti-Semitic origins of the war on ‘fake news.'” Her book Henry Ford and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech pursues the subject at length. I will be speaking as an advocate of the war on fake news as formulated by President Trump.

Ms. Woeste takes up The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, perhaps the most effective fraud/forgery of all time. It has an incredible destructive force that continues to this day, mostly in the Muslim world. I first got a glimpse of the effects of The Protocols in the opening chapter of Konrad Heiden’s 1944 biography of Hitler, Der Fuehrer.

The prominent historian Walter Laqueur died this past Sunday at the age of 97. What a loss. I learned so much from his books over the years. In my case, I would point to his collection of documents in the Arab-Israeli conflict, his history of Zionism, his cultural history of Weimar, his reflections on the fall of the Soviet Union and his history of the dissemination of the truth regarding the Holocaust (The Terrible Secret). Fred Siegel published his own list here yesterday. But I digress.

Coincidentally, Laqueur recently wrote about the Protocols in “The many lives of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'” Here one can see just about all of Laqueur’s virtues as a historian vividly on display. I commend it to your attention.

The Protocols are generally regarded as the the work of the Okhrana, the czarist political police. The smearing of Cleta Mitchell is a sidebar to the Russia hoax in which we have been mired over the past two years. It is a hoax in which the hand of Russian intelligence can clearly be seen. There is a fearful symmetry here. When it comes to fake news, the Russians are really good at it.

UPDATE: Victoria Woeste’s column is also accessible on Outline here.

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