Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions during a short press interview Kazuhiro Nogi/Getty Images

Fake News and Biased News

Outright disinformation that spreads widely, often through social media or other online platforms, has received much attention in recent years. But biased news, in which strategic edits surreptitiously advance the views of a journalist, editor, or broadcaster, is a far more powerful tool for turning people against their leaders – and one another.

TOKYO – Interviews are always tricky. If an unscrupulous interviewer is looking for a particular answer or claim, they have the power to edit, manipulate, or even rewrite their subject’s words to that end. That is why I have long taken pains to check carefully quotations attributed to me by the media. But, when it comes to television or radio interviews, it seemed to me that such distortions would be more difficult to pull off. I was wrong.

Not long ago, representatives from a Japanese television program associated with a liberal-leaning newspaper requested an interview with me to discuss Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic-reform strategy, known as “Abenomics.” I was interviewed for about an hour, with my answers to be included in an episode centered on a panel discussion held in the studio.

The result was not what I expected. To be sure, I wasn’t entirely shocked to find that the panelists denied the recent achievements of Abenomics and espoused the strange view that monetary policy cannot boost an economy, and yet can suddenly cause hyperinflation. Such claims have persisted, despite the ongoing monetary-policy-driven, low-inflation recoveries in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

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