by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What is clear is that left-leaning journalists and commentators are more sure than ever that fake news was an important factor in Trump winning the election.
This seems a curious conclusion to draw with all of the events of the campaign and the various social trends driving the election. Additionally, it seems entirely ridiculous on the part of traditional media to blame minor Facebook pages and a few anonymous Twitter accounts for brainwashing undecided voters to vote Trump when mainstream outlets like CNN still reach far more Americans.
The theory goes that if blue-collar Pennsylvanians and Michiganders had just read The New York Times’ great reporting on the election, they would know the truth and would have heroically cast their ballots for the first woman president. But evil forces manipulated these simple folk and turned them into rabid Trumpkins — hellbent on expelling noble Muslims from the U.S. and tweeting out mean things to courageous journalists.
With all the concern about fake news, you would think conspiracy theories were never heard of prior to social media and major news outlets never published false content. In order to have a healthy democracy, we need to leave journalism to a handful of trusted outlets — such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Alternative media needs to be nudged out of the way so we don’t elect another Trump and everyone can read more quality content, like The Washington Post’s recent op-ed “Trump’s election stole my desire to look for a partner.”
The current obsession over “fake news” ignores the complicity of major outlets like The Times and The Post in perpetuating erroneous reporting that convinced Americans to support the Iraq war, spurred a witch hunt against three innocent Duke lacrosse players, and spread a lie that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot by a Ferguson police officer.