Others in the mainstream media have said it before: after coining the term “fake news” and floating it as an explanation of how Hillary Clinton possibly could have lost the election (even President Obama addressed the epidemic of fake news during a press conference in Germany), they’d prefer that others — i.e., conservatives — not misuse or distort the term.
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, for one, writes that the term is tainted and should be retired. What once was meant to refer to fictional stories meant to influence the campaign, such as Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump, is now used by the Right has shorthand for liberal B.S.
Sullivan’s plan to correct the error is simple:
So, here’s a modest proposal for the truth-based community.
Let’s get out the hook and pull that baby off stage. Yes: Simply stop using it.
Instead, call a lie a lie. Call a hoax a hoax. Call a conspiracy theory by its rightful name. After all, “fake news” is an imprecise expression to begin with.
But what about stories like the Washington Post’s scoop about the Russians hacking into the U.S. electrical grid? It wasn’t true, so was it a lie? The Post had to have had some agenda in mind to print the story without verifying it … sounds a lot like fake news. Calling it an error doesn’t quite cover it.
Yeah, the Russian hacking narrative has gained so much more traction in delegitimizing Trump’s election; it’s kind of embarrassing to keep being bitten in the behind by “fake news.”
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