No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt). As Rhodes put it, “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”Read more here.
Translated, that meant that Rhodes and his team fed false narratives about the Iran Deal to a sympathetic but ignorant media, which used its received authority to report those narratives as “truth”—at least long enough for the agreement to be passed before its multitudinous falsehoods and side-agreements collapsed under their own weight. “We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes bragged to the New York Times: “They [reporters] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Obama’s healthcare advisor Jonathan Gruber likewise saw the virtues of fake news in pushing a political agenda. Gruber assumed that the public, not just the media, was stupid and easily conned: “Lack of transparency,” he said, “is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever.”
Again, the term “fake news” is best applied to mainstream media reporting of fantasies as facts that are demonstrably not true—and are probably known to be not true, but are thought to help advance a desired progressive political or cultural agenda.
...What unites these fake news narratives and gives them greater media resonance than other fables and urban myths is again their progressive resonance. Fake news can become a means to advance supposedly noble ends of racial, gender, class, or environmental justice—such as the need for new sexual assault protocols on campuses. Those larger aims supersede bothersome and inconvenient factual details. The larger “truth” of fake news lives on even after its facts have been utterly debunked.
...And indeed, the fake news mindset ultimately can be traced back to the campus. Academic postmodernism derides facts and absolutes, and insists that there are only narratives and interpretations that gain credence, depending on the power of the story-teller.
In sum, fake news is journalism’s popular version of the nihilism of campus postmodernism. To progressive journalists, advancing a leftwing political agenda is important enough to justify the creation of misleading narratives and outright falsehoods to deceive the public—to justify, in other words, the creation of fake but otherwise useful news.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
"The creation of misleading narratives and outright falsehoods to deceive the public"
Victor Davis Hanson writes,