It would appear that the “alt-right” hysteria has been supplanted by “fake news” hysteria as the American Left goes through its post-election stages of grief. To be absolutely clear, here, I’m open to the possibility that made-up-story click bait is an existential problem for our society, and I’d welcome serious discussion about whether and how to address it (and at what cost in freedom and treasure), but my goodness, can’t the news media just report the news?
Today’s Providence Journal features an article from Craig Timber of The Washington Post, which the Rhode Island paper gives the click-bait headline, “Russian propaganda helped spread ‘fake news.'” How bad is the article? The reader must plow nearly halfway through the 700-word article before Timber bothers to identify the “researchers” whose word he is passing along as tantalizing truth.
Even when we find out who the sources are, they’re just a bunch of names, which the Providence Journal does not contextualize with any details about their backgrounds, their fundings, or any detail that ought to give them credibility. Timber’s original article in his home paper is longer and therefore has more detail, but even so the question of whether the Russian government used social media and the Internet as a field for propaganda is not put in the context of all of the other interests, on the Left and the Right, attempting to do the same thing.
On The Week, Edward Morrissey argues that the “fake news” narrative is indicative of liberals’ contempt for those who do not share their views. It can’t be that an astoundingly horrible and corrupt candidate like Hillary Clinton simply lost. It must be that somebody else was able to deceive the rubes more effectively than the Democrats were. Ian Tuttle of National Review Online is correct to highlight the hypocrisy of handling “fake news” in an ideological fashion.
One need only look at Craig Timber’s report for evidence, according to which one of the dread objectives of Russian masterminds is “undermining faith in American democracy.” And yet, here is the Washington Post, the Providence Journal, and other reprinting news organizations furthering that objective by building a narrative, essentially, that the election was rigged.
Why? Because it serves their partisan and ideological agendas to do so.