The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters isn’t happy that conservatives took aim at the mainstream media after “appropriating the term” fake news and turned it against them.
He whined about it in the opening paragraphs of one of his latest pieces:
The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as “left-wing fake news.”
Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. “The fake news is the everyday news” in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. “They just make it up.”
Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of “Fake news!”
Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.
Peters said in doing so, conservative media has “dilute[d]” the original meaning and is “capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information.”
“A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it “fake news” to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency?” Peters asked. “Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions?”
In his article, Peters decries conservative media for sowing seeds of doubt in the efficacy of the establishment media while simultaneously discrediting conservative news sources:
The right’s labeling of “fake news” evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as “fair and balanced.” Traditionally, mainstream media outlets had thought of their own approach in those terms, viewing their coverage as strictly down the middle. Republicans often found that laughable.
As with Fox’s ubiquitous promotion of its slogan, conservatives’ appropriation of the “fake news” label is an effort to further erode the mainstream media’s claim to be a reliable and accurate source.
Peters throws it over to the never-biased Media Matters with a quote from its president, Angelo Carusone: “What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy. Therefore, by applying that term to credible outlets, it becomes much more believable.”
Media Matters and credible aren’t even relatable terms.
Peters said that what’s up next for these “highly partisan conservatives” is targeting the legitimacy of fact-checking outlets like Snopes and Factcheck.org, both left-leaning organizations that Facebook has partnered with to weed out “fake news” stories from users’ feeds. Peters prefers their abilities to check facts because they are “independent outlets.”
Read his entire article here.