“Fake News,” a Meme For All Seasons

One of the silliest post-election phenomena is the Democrats’ attempt to blame their losses on “fake news” appearing mostly, I take it, on Facebook. They are distraught, apparently, at losing their monopoly. Still, lame or not, the “fake news” theme is spreading.

The German government, which may be cruising for a defeat in upcoming elections, is preemptively blaming “fake news”:

The German government is seeking to create a center of defense against disinformation ahead of next year’s elections, in the wake of ongoing “fake news” and “Russian hackers” hysteria generated during the election cycle in the United States.

The Federal Press Office in the Chancellery, which has a staff of over 500 professionals, will take the leading role in establishing the fake news defense center, Der Spiegel reported quoting a note from an anonymous Interior Ministry staff member.

According to the Interior Ministry plan, the center will focus on offering “intensification of political education work” with groups susceptible to “fake news” – namely “Russian-Germans” as well as “Turkish-speaking people.”

German officials are threatening Facebook, specifically, with reprisals if Facebook doesn’t crack down on “fake news.”

Historical societies are using the concept of “fake news” as yet another means of slandering America. Scholars team up to dispel 400-year-old ‘fake news’ about US:

Fake news, quadricentennial edition: America’s early settlers were all pious. The native people were savages. Freedom and liberty were available to all from Day One.

As the U.S. gears up to mark the 400th anniversary of its roots as a nation, leading scholars from around the globe are teaming up to dispel myths and challenge long-held assumptions about how the country was settled.

Seriously? The early settlers were all pious? The natives were savages? (Well, some of them were pretty savage, actually, but your kids won’t learn that in school.) Freedom and liberty were available to all from Day One? Sure, that’s why we never had to fight a civil war.

Good luck finding anyone who believes these “long-held assumptions”; certainly no one who has attended high school or college in recent decades, or paid even passing attention to popular culture, has absorbed any such “fake news.”

Finally, the Associated Press reports that the government of Pakistan has yet to catch on to “fake news”:

A fake news story has touched off a tense Twitter confrontation between nuclear power Pakistan and Israel, widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal of its own, in an episode that underlines the potentially harmful impact of such stories in sensitive global affairs

In an apparent response to a fake story claiming Israel’s former defense minister threatened a nuclear attack against Pakistan if it sends troops to Syria, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif reminded Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”

Israel’s Defense Ministry tweeted back Saturday, saying the original story on the site AWD News was “totally fictitious.”

AWD has been identified by fact-checking organizations as a fake news site.

It’s a sign of the times: a “tense Twitter confrontation” triggered by “fake news.”

I thought fake news was a flash in the pan, but it is starting to look as though the phrase will be thrust upon us for some time to come.


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