What is fake news? Fake news is anything that doesn’t agree with that person’s (or President’s) opinions or views. In essence, fake news is all about inconvenient facts.
VICE News on HBO features a story where they asked people what they thought about the media and CNN in particular. The results (see above) were all the more maddening when individuals cited depiction by media as stupid, racist and bigoted leading to their disdain. While I think this is bad messaging, I see most of them as stupid, racist, bigoted and unwilling to think for themselves. You can give them a message by a “celebrity” who panders to viewpoints and they just accept it. I know I read mostly progressive media, but I also research issues and want to see them from all major points of view.
This unwillingness to think for themselves and to vilify anyone who disagrees with them explains, in my view, the fact that 74% of murders committed by domestic extremists as political violence involve members of the Far Right. The only real exceptions occurred during the 60’s. Although eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, they didn’t target people.
While Ideology alone isn’t a significant risk factor for violence (as violent individuals often have a history of violence in their personal lives), Republicans have actively promoted the idea that firearms are a vital bulwark against government tyranny. War has become a metaphor for politics. When war becomes the metaphor, you only have winners and losers. The opposition is dehumanized and disdained. Obviously, information coming from “their side” is not reliable no matter what their sources are. And now we have fake news and alternative facts. And we have a group a people that will believe anyone, especially celebrities and authority figures, who agrees with their existing views. And agreement with some views means that person should be believed about everything else.
Vilifying the media and disdaining news sourced from experts, witnesses and actual facts just because the conclusions support the other side in their war metaphor is why democracy needs an informed AND critical population. Paraphrasing a comedian on HBO Real Time episode, “Hitler didn’t do everything at once. It took a while to target the Jews and take control of Germany with misinformation.” Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen here.