So, ‘fake news’ is now practically a fully fledged moral panic.
As we tend to do in the modern West, the lazy term has now been claimed and recontextualised depending on who is using it.
‘Fake news’ to the BBC is any blogger or independent media which does not agree with the mainstream consensus.
‘Fake news’ to the government is anything which threatens their agenda, regardless of truth.
‘Fake news’ to Donald Trump is anything critical of him or his statements.
‘Fake news’ to me, and I hope most others, is a nonsensical lengthening of the conveniently short and punchy synonym: LIES.
Just like I don’t consider terrorism worse because someone of Arabian heritage rather than a white nationalist committed it; like I don’t consider theft worse because a drug addict committed it rather than an investment banker defrauding seven figure sums; LIES are LIES regardless of their messenger.
Fiction; fabrication; falsehoods, fake news; plenty of alliteration but not enough clarity. They’re lies.
Donald Trump is a pathological liar, possibly even convincing himself that his lies are truth. Theresa May is a skilled liar, honed by the party that perfected the art. “There is no crisis in the NHS”, she says; with one statement implying that the BMA, junior doctors, nurses, NHS staff, independent media, clinicians and medical experts are all engaged in some labyrinthine scaremongering conspiracy.
Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre and Richard Desmond’s newspapers consistently headline stories which are demonstrably lies, and yet are only required to print retractions the size of the cheapest version of classified ads. So long as the lies only aim at individuals or organisations that can’t sue them for libel, they’ll continue to do it with impunity.
Why do power structures lie? Well, we know that power structures seek to either reinforce the status quo, or take more for the elites. The liars seek to confuse, bewilder, divide and distract opposition to their agendas.
The curious part of this whole charade is that it’s almost certain that a lot of these ‘fake news’ blogs are actually funded by the extreme right who already have tentacles in government. After all, if the opposition make headway with their factual arguments against you, the best method of attack is to seek to discredit by implying that you can’t tell fake news from truth, so best just not question the elites. Just look at Alex Jones: the prototype conspiratorial idiot paid to consistently discredit serious opposition by implying they’re all raving maniacs.
If we’re going to really tackle the ‘scourge’ of ‘fake news’, we need to do what we should have done a long time ago: equip children with the ability to critically think and examine news sources objectively. But of course that would lead to a population harder to govern. So, call me a cynic, but I have a feeling this “war against fake news” will simply be a front for crushing dissent from any non-mainstream institution. You have been warned.