Culture, you’ve lost your right to use these words together.
We used to call this stuff “misinformation”, “tabloid journalism”, “hoaxes”, or just “lies”. Then 2016 happened, and the old-time press started calling internet bullshit “fake news”.
They didn’t realize it, but they birthed a monster, one that attacked its parents.
Perhaps you all remember a guy named Karl Rove. He is best known for helping the soon-to-be second biggest fucking idiot ever to claim the title President get elected, George W. Bush. One of his trade secrets was how to deflect charges of weakness in his candidate. In Rove’s political parlance, the dictum was:
“Accuse your opponent of what they are going to accuse you of.”
It’s a peculiar form of what psychologists have called projection. And it is hard to combat.
It wasn’t too long ago when the term “low-information voter” entered the lexicon, brought into use by liberals.
Rush Limbaugh, who is smarter than I give him credit for, understood the power of those words together and since conservatives usually don’t have anything original to add to a conversation, used the HELL out of it until you only heard it in right-wing circles to describe liberals.
That’s about where we are with the words “fake news”. Maybe it isn’t liberals’ fault that the concept boomeranged on them, but we started overusing it, often in internecine warfare between the newest wave of left-wing political bloggers who often employ sensationalism to steal clicks from what is now the internet establishment. I’m not gonna name names here, because I believe that calling out lefty blog sites, however misleading they are, is part of what allowed the concept of “fake news” to slip the leash and become a weapon for conservatives.
The situation right now? Well, you all know. The President-the-fuck-Elect thinks that the august and, to be sure, often fatally flawed CNN is “fake news”. Low poll numbers are now fake news.
Fake news is now defined as something you don’t want to hear about irrespective of its veracity.
Its misuse is spreading like typhoid. Bill Donohue, who is a truly repugnant religious fuckwad, wants to help spread this redefinition of “fake news”. A gay man was fired from teaching at a Catholic school because he posted about his marriage on Facebook. Nobody asked him, but Donohue, ever the moral scold, couldn’t help inserting himself into the issue. He refuses to admit that men can get married because…because…oh, screw it, I’ll let him tell you:
“I know that the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage,” says Billard, “but I don’t think my commitment to my husband [sic] has any bearing on my work in the classroom.” [Note: husbands are men and wives are women, so if Billard’s partner is his husband, that would make him his wife, and no one really believes that to be true. The Catholic League does not tolerate fake news.]
The phrase has been reduced to meaninglessness. And it’s only going to get worse-it will prove to be an impossible box to close now that the titular leader of the country thinks anything disagreeable written about him is fake. We’re going to lose this war, liberals, because they are better at projecting than we are. We need to be more careful in the future how we use shorthand like this. We need to deal in facts more than we need to glibly call out lies. There’s probably enough people listening to win the next election.