Hillary Clinton warned during a speech on Capitol Hill Thursday, December 8, that the pervasiveness of “fake news” can have seriously damaging effects on society.
The former Democratic presidential candidate, who has made few appearances since losing the election in November, returned to Capitol Hill to honor retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. During her introductory speech, she made mention of her return to the public eye.
“This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election, but after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it would be a good idea to come out,” she joked with the ceremony’s attendees, in reference to the photos that supporters have taken with her while she was keeping a low profile. “I am very grateful to Harry for inviting me to be a part of this celebration.”
After speaking at length about Reid, 77, and his contributions to Congress, Clinton, 69, took on a more serious tone to tackle one of the election’s problems: fake news.
“We must stand up for our democracy, just as Harry has done his entire career,” she said. “Let me just mention one thread in particular that should concern all Americans — Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, [and] especially those who serve in our Congress: the epidemic of malicious, fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year.”
The former secretary of state recently found herself at the center of a fictitious conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate, after false reports that she was operating an underground child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. The false stories led a gunman to open fire Sunday, December 4, at Comet Ping Pong pizzeria. No one was hurt in the incident.
“It’s now clear that so-called ‘fake news’ can have real world consequences,” she continued. “This isn’t about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities. It’s a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly. Bipartisan legislation is making its way through congress to boost the government’s response to foreign propaganda and Silicon Valley is starting to grapple with the challenge and threat of fake news. It’s imperative that the leaders in the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives.”
Watch Clinton’s poignant speech in the video above.
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