Ever since the rise, and eventual election, of Donald Trump to the Presidency, “Fake News” has been burned into the everyday American’s lexicon. The President and his administration have called the media “the enemy of the American people.” Most recently, the President tweeted out a gif of a WWE fight wherein the head of someone being tackled was replaced with the CNN logo.
If you were to ask President Trump or, I would imagine, many everyday Americans about problems in the media they might be keen to suggest Fake News as the answer. Though false stories are certainly an issue in American politics, they much more frequently take hold and impact opinions on the Right, not the Left.
There are certainly times when the Left-wing media has made mistakes, such as recently with CNN. There have been blatantly false stories passed around Left social media circles, as well, such as the fake Trump quote from an interview with People magazine. However, the stories that are most widely circulated and cause the most harm typically come from the Right Wing of American politics.
Take, for instance, the racist conspiracy theory pedaled by our current President that President Obama was born in Kenya. Despite releasing his birth certificate, Obama had to deal with this for the entirety of his eight years in office and the controversy was “debated” (in so much as something objective can be debated) all across cable news, especially on Fox.
The myth still persists to this day with more Republicans believing Obama was not born in the USA than believing he was. This dangerous, racially-charged, objectively false story has permeated for far longer, with far more people believing it, than anything on the Left.
Take also, for instance, the Pizzagate controversy. This was a story concocted by far right media personnel alleging that Hillary Clinton was running a secret child sex slavery ring in the basement of a pizza shop in Washington DC. This was pushed by many deranged individuals on the Right, including the son of a member of the Trump administration, and even led to an armed man showing up and threatening the owners of the innocent business.
Finally, sites like Breitbart and Infowars have not only managed to gain hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of readers, but they have also gained both positions in and the attention of the Trump administration. Despite headlines like “Would You Rather Your Child Have Feminism or Cancer” and “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew” on far-right Breitbart, its former founder Steve Bannon has found a spot in the Trump White house as Donald Trump’s top adviser and was initially named to the National Security Council. Meanwhile, Alex Jones of the “the Sandy Hook Shooting didn’t actually happen” fame has allegedly been called by President Trump for advice.
Fake News is, no matter the source, dangerous and potentially detrimental to any democracy. This is why Democrats need to stop ceding this word to our Commander-in-Chief, who has no idea what Fake News actually is or where it is coming from. Democrats must fight as hard against actual Fake News as Donald Trump fights against any media outlet willing to criticize him.