“Fake News” Is the New “Bregret”

“Fake News” Is the New “Bregret”, by Jason Willick.

Now that elites worldwide are reeling from Donald Trump’s presidential victory — “Brexit plus plus plus,” the candidate called it — a variation of this narrative is once again taking hold in liberal circles. This time, it’s centered on “fake news” — the idea that Trump’s victory can be chalked up to phony right-wing news websites, which allegedly had an outsize presence on social media networks in the run-up to the election.

As with “Bregret,” the obvious implication is that the election of Donald Trump is not a real rejection of the cosmopolitan establishment, because if voters actually understood their options, they would not have elected him.

President Obama appears to be sold on a version of this theory. In a recent New Yorker profile, the outgoing president tells David Remnick that he believes the rise of fact-free right-wing outlets have created scorched-earth resistance to his common-sense agenda by manipulating cocooned conservative voters. …

Brooke Binkowski, the managing editor of Snopes, a leading fact-finding website, makes a version of this point in an interview with Backchannel: If the legacy media still had authority, fringe websites peddling fabricated clickbait would not be able to attain so much visibility. …

A strategic-level summary of today’s politics:

Both Brexit and Trump were manifestations of cascading failures of the governing elites of the Western world, who pushed too hard for universalistic values and grew fundamentally disconnected from their populations. Saving liberalism will require elite introspection and a deeper understanding of our current crisis of governance.

Self-satisfied assurances that anti-establishment voters are clueless — that they didn’t understand the significance of their vote and will now change their minds, or that they could be educated if social media sites simply promoted the right news outlets — are borderline suicidal.