Redefining ‘Fake News’

Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times:

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, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

“Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it’s gone too far,” said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits. “Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don’t see how you reverse it.”

Conservative commentators aren’t the only ones trying to frame mainstream news reports under the guise of “fake news”; so-called “alternative” news sites, many of which are not explicitly conservative — Infowars, NaturalNews, Zero Hedge, and Global Research — have all run stories recently that redefine “fake news” as anything published by a mainstream source.1

These sites have all thrived from promoting a stance that anything appearing in mainstream publications is false, while anything written by “alternative” sources2 or uploaded to YouTube is totally legitimate. This must be undone, but any opposition to it will be seen as a reason to fortify their stance. “Alternative” and partisan media has successfully built an impenetrable fact-free fortress that grows stronger with each punch thrown against it. That scares me.

  1. I’m not linking to any of them because they thrive on ad views and sales of “herbal supplements”, but you can preview these stories with a quick web search↥︎

  2. They also like the word “independent”. Both of these terms mask the narrative-driven approach that defines these kinds of publications, and makes them different from independent and reputable media entities. ↥︎