In conjunction with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s national Foilie awards which celebrate the importance of a free press and government transparency, Inland 360 named a regional winner.Sowing Seeds of Public Mistrust Award – Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird
Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird is asking supporters to send her examples of “biased, misleading and fake news.”
If you’re thinking, that’s great, the public should know about stories that are completely fabricated and written by people seeking profit through internet traffic — that’s not the kind of story Gidding wants.
“We need people to wake up to the fact that just because it’s on the front page of the Boise newspaper doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent true,” Giddings said, referring to the Idaho Statesman in a story reported this week by the Associated Press.
The term “fake news” came into use during the last presidential election to describe stories that perpetuated false claims and spread like the flu on the internet because of their inflammatory nature. After Trump’s election, he and other conservatives began using it as a club to attack reporting that questioned or critiqued their authority or performance. On Twitter, Trump declared the nation’s news media, “the enemy of the American people.”
After he created Fake News Awards earlier this year, Giddings took it upon herself to create an Idaho version which she announced in a YouTube video in January.
“They target us with skewed language, misleading information and biased attacks instead of focusing on important issues that Idahoans really care about,” Giddings said in the video about the media.
Giddings has faced scrutiny by the Idaho press over an unresolved property tax homeowners exemption. Earlier in the session, she declined to be interviewed by the Lewiston Tribune and other news outlets, saying questions must be emailed to her. She did not respond to an email inquiry asking what was preventing her from explaining her position on the issue, according to a January story by Lewiston Tribune reporter William Spence.
If Idahoans really care about eroding the public’s trust in the watchdog role of the free press, then Giddings’ work on her fake awards is time well spent.