During the run up to the election there was an enormous proliferation of fake news. I don’t mean fake news the way the president does, where any news even slightly critical is fake. I mean news that is explicitly lying with absolutely no evidence for it whatsoever. It was all over the place before voting started. And it was most apparent in right wing echo chambers.
Democrats and liberals didn’t get quite as much. Not zero, but not nearly as much as conservatives did. So why is that? It’s worth pointing out here just who was writing the fake news. It wasn’t American journalists, or even journalists at all. It was mostly people in eastern European countries writing for the sole purpose of getting advertising dollars. The best of these could earn thousands of dollars a month doing this, where the average income is hundreds of dollars. They didn’t particularly care what they wrote or who read it. They had no ideological agenda to speak of. So why mostly anti-Clinton stories?
The liberal in me would like to believe that conservatives are dumber and more gullible. I would love to have evidence of my own superiority. But I can’t really believe that. I have far too much evidence of my own failings to seriously believe that somehow I am immune from fake news. No, the real reason fake news did so well in conservative circles is that so circles were already well primed by a level of pre-existing Clinton hatred. The Clintons had been in national politics for decades. That’s lots of time to learn enough about them to hate them. And there was a large industry of media who helped build this hatred. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones, and more than a few Fox News contributors. They prepared the ground for the profitable fake news phenomenon.
So what next? Will there be another epidemic of fake news for the next election? I don’t think so. True, liberals currently hate Trump with the burning passion of a thousand hells, but he’s only been in national politics for a few months. There isn’t as much room to build a real head of steam, media-wise. So when the next election occurs, and there isn’t nearly as much fake news, we will pat ourselves on the back for fixing that problem. Facebook and Google will have started, then ended, the fake news issue. That will be a lie. The real reason is that people will not be primed as well for outright lies about Trump.
That doesn’t mean people won’t try. I’m sure someone already owns the domain for Viagragate.com when rumors start that Trump is completely impotent, and that Melania’s son’s father is really Jared Kushner.