The Chatter Podcast: Spotting Fake News with Cindy Otis

By David Priess
Thursday, July 28, 2022, 9:16 AM

Fake news has been around for thousands of years in different forms that have changed with media technology, and there's little doubt that it's here to stay. For reasons ranging from human biases to financial incentives to the need for speed, it remains a hard problem. Cindy Otis, who worked for about 10 years at the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst and a manager, now writes about fake news and related matters in articles and books--including True or False: A CIA Analyst's Guide to Spotting Fake News, which she targeted at a Young Adult audience. She balances a deep understanding of the challenges of fake news with a deep commitment to providing practical guidance for dealing with it.

David Priess spoke with Cindy about writing about fake news and other national security issues for the Young Adult audience, the history of fake news, the challenges of writing about the Holocaust, the changing terminology for disabled persons, the continuing challenges of wheelchair use in travel and in government buildings, her experiences at the CIA, why she writes for outlets ranging from Teen Vogue to USA Today, how to avoid falling prey to fake news, and why the exposure of Russian fake news about Ukraine gives her optimism about our collective ability to counter disinformation.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works discussed in this episode:

The book True or False: A CIA Analyst's Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy Otis

The book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Cindy Otis's writing for Teen Vogue

Preview of the forthcoming book At the Speed of Lies by Cindy Otis