Political Deception and Misinformation Act

Political Deception and Misinformation Act

Maybe it is because we are so used to it, but we don’t really expect honesty from politicians or the media anymore. It is time we do again. All we seem to demand is that they follow the law, which they and their friends wrote and enforce. We don’t require that they be honest because it is hard to define, so we only ask that they be lawful – and even that is a stretch. It is only logical to demand honesty from politicians and the media, under penalty. Let’s define it. Dishonesty, or “fraud” will be defined as Webster does::

“Deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit, or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.”

Political Deception and Misinformation Act TEXT:

“Public broadcast lying will be considered fraud. Public broadcast lying will be defined as any person or media outlet intentionally misrepresenting the truth, in regards to himself or another for business, personal or political gain.”

“Intentionally misrepresenting the truth” shall be defined as: “any communication from any politician, political candidate, or media outlet which intentionally leads an uninformed but reasonably intelligent person who may not have all of the facts to assume that which is false to be true”.

PENALTIES

Media penalty for first offense will be suspension of broadcast license for a minimum of six months or a fine to be determined by the court. A conviction for a second offense within a ten year period will result in loss of license for one year and fine of not less than $1 million dollars. A third conviction within a ten year period will result in permanent loss of broadcast license.

Politician minimum penalty will be expulsion from office currently held for first offense, or if not currently holding elective in office, suspension from running for elected office for a minimum of five (5) years. Second offense is permanent loss of right to contest for any elective office plus a monetary fine to be determined by the court.

EXPLANATION

This means that a politician or media outlet can be prosecuted for “Intentional misrepresentation of the truth” by omission. For example, “Don’t vote for Newt Gingrich, he was charged with 84 counts of ethical violations and misconduct while speaker of the house!!!”. A relatively intelligent person might respond by saying “WOW”, and I thought he seemed like an honorable guy”. What is left out is the lie. Although he was charged by an antagonist with 84 counts, 83 of them were dropped and only 1 was actually investigated and found to be mostly untrue as well. A lie of omission is still a lie because the intention to deceive is clear.
Although to say he was charged is true, the ad clearly misrepresents the facts and leads people to believe (he was a criminal) what is not true. This is an example of “Intentional Misrepresentation of the Truth”
Imagine what political ads would be like under a law like this? We can’t have one saying the other wants old people and babies to die; or that he would take away your social security benefits; or maybe that the other guy would eat your children and kill your little kittens, or has abused women or children.
If it is shown that the truth has been intentionaly misrepresented, the offending candidate or media outlet must face the penalties.
This would cause news outlets to completely revamp their writing style. They would have to report facts and have opinions clearly identified as such. There is nothing wrong with opinion and debate, but we must stop allowing opinions to be reported as facts.
Politicians would have to keep their marketing mostly to their own positions and accomplishments rather than lie about those of their opponent’s. Imagine how nice that would be.
Is it too much to ask that our media and politicians be honest? Apparently it is, so we need to straighten them all out. Honesty is the best policy, isn’t it? Or do the ends justify the means? Dishonesty should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

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One comment

  1. Greg Penglis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I posted this because it is an interesting idea, even though I have concerns. Even though I am the arbiter of what goes on the site, I am open to new ideas, however controversial they may be, and the evolution of those ideas with the input of members of the citizen legislature. The idea that some leftist news sites have a political agenda, and don’t care about the truth is fairly well documented and comes under the heading “fake news.” The question is whether the loss of credibility is enough, or should there be actual legal punishments. Chris, think about how this law should be implemented, and what penalties in terms of fines and jail on the criminal side, and liability on the civil side, would be authorized and allowed.
    I think the best way to combat fake news, is with the truth. My concern is that more powerful media, fake news, outlets will intimidate and squash stories by lesser funded truthful outlets with the threat of their legal team going after the smaller outlet because they can, using the law to stop the competition, bury the truth, and advance their agenda.
    I think the best response to a fake stories is a bunch of real ones. Therefore I want the press free and open. We already have liable laws and slander laws for obvious lies. So let’s think about media accountability, not necessary with fines, jail, and criminal charges, but required verification to the public.
    For example. We have public disclosure laws for politicians, campaigns, and interest groups, to see where the money, power and influence comes from. That is a good thing. So what if we took your basic idea, and modified it not to a legal punishment, but where any competing media outlet, politician, subject of an investigation, or any interested party, could challenge a story and demand the sources be named, the research sources be cited, the trail of the investigation documented, and the funding for the story revealed. Say a George Soros funded media campaign was started to label then candidate Trump a “racist, sexist, homo-islamophobe,” and that story was published and aired. The parties named in the story, related parties, and others could use the “Media Disclosure and Responsibility Act,” to require disclosure of the sources I talked about above.
    Chris, consider these ideas, and maybe modify your bill into a disclosure requirement, rather than a fraud persecution. This may get what you are trying to achieve without being able to be abused. Work on it please and I’ll post your revision, or post a completely separate act so we can see how you got there, and we can use this for future reference material.

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