Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Last week, CNN thrust itself into what could very well be the biggest scandal in the history of the American media.

And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group of people.

However, that the fake journalists at CNN are as deserving as anyone to be called out for what they are doesn’t mean that there aren’t legions of others in the media who aren’t as deserving of the same.

The only difference between the fake journalists at CNN and fake journalists at MSNBC; ABC; CBC; NBC; The New York Times; The Washington Post; and numerous other media organizations is that CNN got caught red handed in the act of cooking their anti-Trump story of choice: the Vast Left-wing Russian “Collusion” Conspiracy.

CNN got busted in two respects.  First, it was forced to retract a fake news story regarding “collusion” between one of the President’s associates, Anthony Scaramucci, and those nefarious “Russians.”

Then, Project Veritas released video exposing, first, a CNN producer and, then, CNN contributor Van Jones, both admitting that there had never been anything to the “collusion” conspiracy other than ratings gold.

The CNN scandal confirms two things that many of us have been insisting upon all along:

(1)Fake News is a real and pervasive phenomenon.

(2)The Russian “Collusion” Conspiracy is, and has always been, the most recent paradigmatic expression of this phenomenon.

This being said, there is much confusion regarding this notion of “fake news” that equally inflicts both the friends and enemies of this term.

The Origins of “Fake News”

First, “fake news” did not originate with President Trump or, for that matter, with any Trump supporters.  I’ve noticed recently in my exchanges with the President’s critics that they seem to assume that had it not been for Trump’s routine use of the label to dismiss his media critics, there never would have arisen any talk of “fake news.   Considering that “fake news” became part of our political-cultural lexicon as recently as the last election, it’s odd that anyone would be in doubt just seven months or so later as to its origins.

At any rate, neither Trump nor any of his supporters invented “fake news.”

Prior to the language of “fake news,” there was much hand-wringing by conservatives over the “liberal bias” of the “mainstream media,” and comparable mocking by Fox News detractors of “Faux News.”

Then, shortly after Trump got elected, his Democrat enemies began attributing his victory to the dissemination of “fake news.”

To repeat: It was Trump’s opponents who created the moniker “fake news.”

However, they didn’t anticipate—incredibly, given that Republicans and tens of millions of other Americans had been complaining about the dishonesty of the media for decades—that the right would waste no time commandeering this nomenclature from its coiners.  For Democrat politicians and operatives and their propagandists in the media to accuse anyone of promoting fake news was analogous to the Clintons accusing Trump of mistreating women because he made some lewd remarks about women in a private conversation.  It was like Hitler attacking Harry Truman for mistreating Jews because the latter used ethnic epithets when referring to them.

“Fake News” was exactly the expression for which those on the right had been looking—and the left handed it to them on a silver platter.

The Meaning of Fake News

Trump-haters seem to think that it is only negative coverage of him that the President and his supporters label “fake news.”  This is incorrect.  The left-liberal media had been disseminating Fake News long before anyone heard of “fake news.”

Fake News doesn’t consist only in false reports—though it does indeed encompass assertions that are, like the Trump-Russian Collusion Conspiracy, patently false.  Fake News consists as well in claims that may be true, as far as they go, but which, it’s painfully obvious to all who aren’t blinded by the prejudices of the “journalists,” are not newsworthy.

Fake News is fake news.

A perfect example of this is “the story,” all of the rage in the Democrat media not very long ago, regarding President Trump’s alleged preference for two scoops of ice cream at White House dinner parties. Trump may very well prefer two scoops of ice cream. This could be as true as that the Earth revolves around the sun is true.  What makes it Fake News, though, is that those in the media mentioned it only so as to weave it into their larger, anti-Trump narrative.

Trump, they told us, insists upon two scoops while allowing his guests only half of this amount.

This, his enemies in the Fake News media, confirms further that the President is “narcissistic,” “mean-spirited,” and the like.

It was the media spin on this wholly uninteresting, trivial detail regarding Trump’s dietary habits that made it Fake News.

Or consider a hypothetical illustration to drive home this point that Fake News is not limited to claims that are untrue.  Suppose that I and some imaginary “journalist” disliked one another for whatever reasons.  Now, suppose that this person—let’s call him “X”—reported on his nightly television program that I did not beat my wife today.

What X said would be true, but only because I never beat my wife.  In telling this truth, X would give the impression, and mean to give the impression, that I regularly beat my wife.

That I didn’t beat my wife today, though true, is not news.  To make this claim about me so as to make it sound like news is for X to be guilty of disseminating Fake News.

Fake News existed long before Trump.  It will, unfortunately, remain with us as long as partisanship remains with us.

Thankfully, though, the ever-rapid proliferation of “alternative” sources of news and commentary, particularly of those that are now exploding all over the internet, Fake News is easier than ever before to recognize and call out.

It is also easier than ever before, and will only grow easier in the future, to squash Fake News.

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