Trumpsters Now Claim All Mainstream Media Is “Fake News”
By Turning Their ‘Fake News’ Election Trickery on Its Head, Right Wingers Seek to Erode a Pillar of Accountability
Perhaps you’ve heard this tragic story. On October 30, a white nationalist-linked Twitter account posted a tweet that went like this:
This outlandish lie perpetuated itself through an echo chamber that started with a tweet and a Facebook post, and then landed on message boards and media sites throughout the country by way of a conspiratorial web of deceit (see the leading image below the headline of this story).
Right wing trolls fingered a Washington, DC, pizza joint as the hub of the alleged sex ring. Some weeks later, an armed man, after reading a recycled Facebook post, entered the parlor and fired one shot, scaring the hell out of its patrons and employees. Thus, “Pizza-gate” entered our lexicon.
The story caught a second wind when eyes turned to a father-and-son team who shared both a virulent hatred for Hillary Clinton and a penchant for creating news stories on social media that weren’t, uh, entirely factual. The father, a retired general who Trump selected as his national security advisor, was last seen at the Republican National Convention, revealing to the crowd that the Clinton campaign was the “enemy camp.” Junior seemed most willing to follow in dad’s footsteps and create somewhat of a stir when he lambasted the Washington Post‘s coverage of the Trump campaign and posed the question, “Should they continue to operate?”
Junior then proceed to get himself kicked off the Trump transition team by tweeting this:
Should they continue to operate? Coming from the White House-in-waiting, that’s a scary thought.
“Fair and Balanced”
When the news that US intelligence agencies confirmed that Russian cyber mischief influenced our recent presidential election in Trump’s favor, it wasn’t just the thin-skinned manchild who pouted his dissent. It created an opportunity for conservatives to stick it to the mainstream media.
White nationalist website Breitbart, whose editor is will soon be the White House senior advisor, dismissed the carefully researched finding as “left wing fake news.” Radio rabble rouser Rush Limbaugh ruminated, “The fake news is the every day news…They just make it up.”
Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times has a perfect explanation for the above:
In defining “fake news” so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country’s increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeking an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.
The power of fake news and its entanglement with social media is palpable. The superb website Media Matters for America reported that a search for “Pizza-Gate,” which, remember, began as a political prank by skinhead trolls, yielded the following: Between October 30, the date of the initial tweet, and December 19, “social media users have shared web articles (both real and fake news stories) related to the conspiracy theory more than 5.2 million times across different platforms since the lie’s birth.”
Anyone calling for a rebirth of real journalism? Count me in.