The Influence of Partisanship on Gullibility

Amanda Taub, New York Times, in a section with the subheading “how partisan bias fuels fake news”:

“If I’m a rabid Trump voter and I don’t know much about public affairs, and I see something about some scandal about Hillary Clinton’s aides being involved in an assassination attempt, or that story about the pope endorsing Trump, then I’d be inclined to believe it,” Mr. Iyengar said. “This is reinforcing my beliefs about the value of a Trump candidacy.”

And Clinton voters, he said, would be similarly drawn to stories that deride Mr. Trump as a demagogue or a sexual predator.

There’s a lot that can be drawn from this story, but this false equivalence masks that value. The pope never endorsed Clinton, and her aides are not assassins. But Trump said — on tape — that he could grab women by their genitals and that he “[doesn’t] even wait” to kiss someone because he’s famous and can get away with it. That’s not fake news; that’s sexual assault.