Why we must revisit the definition of ‘fake news’ – Middle East Monitor


The phrase “fake news” continues to be deployed regularly in US politics. In a polarized political atmosphere, both Republicans and Democrats trust media organizations affiliated with other parties. This means that most of what is uttered or written by CNN “fake news” for Republicans, and much of what appears in the Republican-affiliated media is “fake news” for Democrats.

The phrase has become so common and has multiple meanings that it is impossible to agree on a common definition. Even “fact-checking” organizations or news desks contribute to the troubling phenomenon of “fake news” by selectively fact-checking news and information affiliated with one side of the political spectrum, while ignoring the other. another.

Some traced the “fake news” story to a small Eastern European town called Veles in Macedonia. This particular claim relates to Craig Silverman, media editor at Buzzfeed. “We managed to find a small cluster of news websites that were registered in the same town,” Silverman said. BBC. The purpose of these websites appeared to be financial, so-called “clickbait”, to lure unsuspecting users to unlikely headlines.

Later, the term became very political. It was the former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who popularized the term, making it the most popular phenomenon today. Mike Wendling from the BBChowever, he claimed to be Trump’s staunch rival in the 2016 US presidential elections, Hillary Clinton, who first used the term in a speech in December of the same year.

Actually, “fake news” before both Clinton and Trump. When I first moved to the US more than twenty years ago, I remember my complete shock when I saw the headlines of the printed tabloids, always in the middle of the major grocery stores in the United States: from unfounded celebrity scandals, to “breaking news” about aliens flooding humans. females before returning to their home planet. Even as a newcomer to the country, it was clear to me that this rubbish was also “fake news”. Sadly, these tabloids have often sold faster than legitimate newspapers, suggesting that the biggest challenge with “fake news” is our ability and willingness to deal with it.

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In the modern definition, “fake news” has grown to also include people with opposing views, whether those views are based on facts, selective facts or outright fiction. Many of us, as journalists, are caught in this impossible labyrinth. No matter what we do to demonstrate the authenticity of our sources, we are constantly plagued by accusations of “fake news”.

The generational struggle for independent media organizations and journalists is a constant push to create as much space as possible between them and the whims of politics and politicians. Recently, however, this distance has shrunk to the point that previously respected news organizations in the United States have since become synonymous with political party pamphlets.

In 2018, Trump announced his “Fake News Awards” to “grant” journalists in liberal media organizations who opposed him. The fact checkers of these organizations have ridiculed him ever since. His “information” and often exaggerated statements made him a perfect target. Joe Biden is hardly held to the same standards, not only for allegedly making false statements but, at times, for what appears to be more gibberish than proper English. While funny Biden memes are a social media staple, based on assertions made in various public appearances, they are rarely examined by respected news outlets.

But can we trust the mainstream media when they apply the term “fake news”?

Noam Chomsky, one of the most outspoken critics of the US mainstream media and author of Conradh na Gaeilge Manufacturing Consentdefined the mainstream media as: “Corporations (are) basically tyrannies, hierarchical, controlled from above. If you don’t like what they’re doing you find out. The mass media is just part of that system.”

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Chomsky’s analysis suggests that those who make allegations of “fake news” can themselves be purveyors of “fake news”, if that information conveniently serves those who control these organizations “from above”. especially as: “Most of them are either linked to, or wholly owned by, much larger corporations.”

For us in the Global South, falsified information did not come from the small Macedonian town of Veles or from Clinton’s speech or from Trump’s “awards”. “Fake news” has been an integral part of Western colonialism, from its beginnings hundreds of years ago, to recent neo-colonialism.

Back then, the lies that often fueled wars, invasions and military occupations were not called “fake news” but “false flag” operations. Many historians now understand that the casus belli behind the Spanish-American war of 1898 – the explosion of the US warship USS Maine – was based on a lie, or “fake news”. The so-called weapons of mass destruction that did not exist in Iraq, which led to the invasion of the once powerful Arab country in 2003, were fake news, related to stories made up of uranium yellowcake from Niger, the dodgy “secret British dossier”. and other fibers.

Zionists invaded Palestine based entirely on “fake news”, claiming that there were no inhabitants on the land – historical Palestine -, “A land without a people …”. The “fake news” linked to Palestine is arguably the most powerful of all colonial lies. CNN Fact-checkers hardly bother to prove that God did not “promise” Palestine to the Zionists and that it is not the Palestinians who attack, but the victims of the Zionist-Western settler-colonists.

It is incumbent upon all of us to expand the definition of “fake news” beyond the purely US-Western-centric political definitions that pit Republicans against Democrats and vice versa. Lies, deception, half-truths, misinformation and outright “fake news” have been the driving force behind corporate reporting in the media for decades. It is becoming increasingly clear simply because those who are manipulating the media discourse “from above” are losing control of their own narratives.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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