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Fake news is a problem for regulators

Joe Mont | January 9, 2018

A few years ago, we had a brainstorm, one that struck while digging through public comments connected to a piece of rulemaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

What alarmed us, as we collected notable reactions for the sort of story we traditionally do as part of the rulemaking process, was how much junk there was.

Poking around public comments at other government agencies, we saw even more of the same. There were, of course, informed, intelligent discourses. Then, there were hundreds—sometimes thousands—of form letters, identical in every way except the signature. Capping off the voluminous correspondence were reactions that barely connected to the rulemaking at hand. Proclamations that Hillary is a crook, Obama is a Muslim, and assertions that any rulemaking with even the slightest progressive bent had to be the work of George Soros.

Just one of many examples comes from responses to the Department of Health and Human Services and an effort to review...

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