The birth of Fake News

Have you ever wondered how the expression originated?

I mean, in a wider sense the dissemination of fabricated stories, mostly for propaganda reasons, dates back at least to Ancient Greece, and that’s just because we have limited data from earlier civilizations.
But why the sudden alarm for the spread of fake news?

Not all TED conferences are created equal. Some even contain inconvenient truths.

Sharyl Attkisson is a tough cookie: a investigative journalist who worked in the mainstream media, a respectable voice that can’t be silenced by pretending she comes from the unwashed fringe. Although of course she left CBS when her tough stance and pointed critique of Obama’s administration became too much for the tastes of her producers.


Things don’t happen by chance

In this video she manages to plant a bomb in TED’s otherwise glossy, feel-good/progressive presentations: the introduction of the expression “fake news”, she reveals to us, can be traced back to a no profit association (called First Draft) funded by Eric Schmidt’s Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
The whole endeavor seems to have originated in an effort to promote a control on information.
In fact Schmidt was a top donor and advisor for Hillary Clinton‘s Presidential Campaign.

First Draft
‘s crusade against fake news began in September 2016, just in time to serve Hillary’s race to the Presidency.
After just a month Obama himself, in a speech, suggested that “somebody needed to step in and curate information in this Wild Wild West media environment”. You don’t say!

All of a sudden numerous voices began insisting that fake news were a threat to the American democracy, dominating the headlines.

The idea was that of suppressing the emergence of alternative news sources that were threatening the leftist quasi-monopoly on the truth.


The wolves

David Brock -a Clinton surrogate and the mind behind the vicious anti-Trump campaigns- is one of the most dangerous actors in the information manipulation battle. He founded Media Matters, a renown and infamous organization devoted to the spread of partisan talking points under the guise of providing independent fact-checks and analysis of media bias, “correcting conservative misinformation”.
In the video Attkisson reveals that Brock privately boasted that he was behind the involvement of Facebook in the (fake) anti-fake news craze.

As an experienced journalist who knows the ins and outs of her profession, Attkisson points out what to me has been obvious for many years: journalists act in unison, they are de facto coordinated in a peer-to-peer informal network, like a pack of wolves. There are marching orders indeed, although there’s no master plan or conspiracy in the proper sense. It’s just that some interests converge and most people cherish conformity.

That’s how of the thousands of possible news topics to cover we’re experiencing waves of one-sided reports fixating on a single subject, usually something that wasn’t on the public’s radar before.

Attkisson quotes Glenn Greenwald, a voice from the ultra-leftist The Intercept, i.e. definitely not a right-wing source (but one with a penchant for confronting power and mainstream narratives):

“Those who most loudly denounce fake news are typically the ones most aggressively disseminating it.”

Resistance is denounced as part of some nefarious plan to distort the truth.
It helps that on one side there’s a well organized media machine, on the opposite corner the forces are smaller, divided and often inexperienced.


Down the drain

It must be noted that the quality of news has been deteriorating lately, also thanks to a number of improvised websites hastily built to make a quick buck through fake stories and sensationalism.
Ironically, though, this phenomenon has been enhanced by the shameless decision, on the part of the respectable media, to lump together those bottom feeders and any alternative voice. When you throw away the baby with the bathwater expect the mother of the baby to run to the rescue and sympathize with dirty water too.


The rest is history: not just America was taken by storm by the fake news craze. Even here in Europe, thanks to the snowball effect due to a convergence of interests, authorities jumped on the bandwagon and have been for some time now pushing various forms of censorship, putting questionable media personalities and leftist organizations in charge of policing thought.
Twitter and Facebook have become more and more proactive in their banning and silencing those on the right.
Yours truly is being shadowbanned by Twitter for example. If I publish something on that platform only a handful of people see it. Despite the fact that I didn’t attack anyone, nor advocated violence, used improper language or did anything questionable.

It’s a gradual process, people initially try to oppose the most blatant violations of freedom of speech, but as we can see with the cases of homophobia and Islamophobia, eventually the concept that reality is defined by politicians and news bulletins prevails.
When you’re out of synch you’re seen as morally lacking, therefore what you say must be false.


The brilliant reversal

Not all is lost though, at least if you take a cue from the pros.

Trump took possession of the expression and turned it against its creators, punching back relentlessly, making it (through effective repetition) a permanent attribute of some of his adversaries (case in point: “fake news CNN”).
Attkisson points out that in doing so he acted like an entrepreneur launching a hostile takeover against a rival company…

Now they’ve been forced to abandon the battlefield. No more fake news narratives, the expression has been worn out.
Obvious next step: promoting “media literacy”. To help people understand that they shouldn’t believe some specific sources…

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