News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer, by Roger Kimball. Gotcha:
A couple weeks back …I was at a swank New York club for an evening event. The establishment in question is overwhelmingly conventional, i.e., leftish in that smug “We’re-all-beautiful-people-who-are-you?” sort of way that publications like The New Yorker and the New York Times, along with such media outlets as CNN and MSNBC, exude like the cloying aroma of paperwhites.
I ran into an acquaintance, a female journalist I hadn’t seen in years. I knew that her politics were echt conventional in the above sense, but I had also found her an amusing and lively person. We were chatting with a couple of other people about this and that when someone she knew from the Times joined in. I then overheard him explain to her that she had to be careful about what she posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc., because anything too explicitly anti-Trump could be used against her when that glorious day came and “they” — the conventional fraternity of groupthink scribblers — finally took down that horrible, despicable man.
“We’ve got dozens of people working on it all the time,” he explained, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got the goods on Trump and destroyed him.
There in a nutshell, I thought, is the existential imperative that has been so gloriously productive of fake news and its exacerbated allotrope, first delineated by Donald Trump in his famous media-bashing presser on February 16, “very fake news.”
News versus fake news:
News is the reporting of facts. Someone says “this happened on such-and-such a day in such-and-such a way,” and independent, publicly available sources confirm that, yes, what was alleged happened at just that time and in just that fashion.
Fake news insinuates a skein of innuendo and a boatload of shared presumption floating on an ocean of fantastic desire into the mix. Repetition … whips this unstable congeries into an intoxicating frenzy:
“Trump’s transition is in chaos, pass it on.”
“Trump is a puppet of Putin, pass it on.”
“Trump is Steve Bannon’s puppet, pass it on.”
“Trump, like Steve Bannon, is a white supremacist/racist/homophobic/woman-hating xenophobe, really pass that one along.”
Every one of these fantasies is not only untrue, but ostentatiously, extravagantly untrue. Liberals of sound mind understand this.
Trump’s first 30 days: what they aren’t telling you.
In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. …
To date Trump has been even more successful than was Reagan in beginning to fulfill his campaign promises. All of his cabinet nominees have been confirmed … He has moved quickly to get the ball rolling on tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, strengthening the military, enforcing the country’s immigration laws, and cutting the jungle of business-sapping regulation down to size. He has, as Allen observes, “already taken steps … to fulfill at least a dozen of his campaign promises.”
But listen to the New York Times or any of the other conventional “news” sources, and you would think Trump is a malevolent and incompetent monster who, despite his supreme incompetence, is somehow tipping the country into moral Armageddon. …
Here’s one bit of news: the stock market has risen by nearly 3000 points since Trump’s election.
Here’s another bit of news: while Trump’s personal popularity remains low for a new president, the mood of the country as a whole has exploded with optimism, whereas towards the end of Barack Obama’s reign, 70% of those polled said that the country was moving in the wrong direction.
The media are the opposition party, and their monopoly is fading as the Internet grows:
Steve Bannon was right to brand the media the “opposition party.”
To an extent marvelous to behold, it has become a factory for the production of fake and very fake news: not just the dissemination of lies, half-truths, and unsubstantiated fantasies, but also the perpetuation of that echo-chamber in which political paranoia feeds upon the bitter lees of its impotent irrelevance.