False reporting, inaccurate reporting, ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’, etc. are all phrases we’ve become way too familiar with during the 2016 presidential election and is still popping up in 2017. Many mainstream news outlets thought this would die down and lose steam but I believe it’s only getting started.
President Trump’s war with the media has been going on since the launch of his presidential campaign. He and his administration have continually criticized the media on how they’ve covered Trump’s campaign and the rocky transition process. His go-to attack is automatically branding media outlets as fake, especially when controversial or difficult questions arise.
On Thursday, Trump held his first White House news conference, and many news outlets couldn’t exactly find the right words to describe it. In several instances, Trump seemed out of his element when trying to answer questions. When a reporter was asking about the Russian spy vessel off the U.S. coastline Trump’s response was, “not good.” Another reporter corrected Trump after he misstated his Electoral College win at the press conference. Trump responded, “Well, I don’t know, I was given that information. I was given it.”
According to the Washington Post, the Republican Party and Trump’s campaign websites posted a 25-question “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey.” Participants of the survey were asked if the media was working against the American people, something Trump has insinuated and attacked the media for. Some questions from the survey asked about the medias portrayal of Trump’s campaign, the Republican party, political correctness bias on immigration policies and if the media has been too quick to spread false stories about the Trump movement.
On Friday Trump furthered his stance on the media by tweeting, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
The only reason why the media has been so tough on Trump is because of his inability to take responsibility for repeatedly claiming false facts. Trump has accused the press of distorting facts and for lousy coverage of his campaign and other events that have happened throughout the world.
The New York Times posted an article about Fake News and spoke to Michael Lynch a professor from the University of Connecticut. “There are an alarming number of people who tend to be credulous and form beliefs based on the latest thing they’ve read, but that’s not the wider problem. The wider problem is fake news has the effect of getting people not to believe real things.” He describes his point further, “There’s no way for me to know what is objectively true, so we’ll stick to our guns and our own evidence. We’ll ignore the facts because nobody know what’s really true anyway.”
There has always been fake news found on social media sites and tabloids sold at the grocery store, but never has fake news become a “political battering ram” as the New York Times put it. “But the issue has become a political battering ram, with the left accusing the right of trafficking in disinformation, and the right accusing the left of tarring conservatives as a way to try and censor websites. In the process, the definition of fake news has blurred.”
For more information:
The Atlantic: Why Fake News Targeted Trump Supporters
New York Times: As Fake News Spreads Lies, More Readers Shrug at the Truth
U.S. News: ‘Fake News’ Means Fake News
The Washington Post: Trump Calls the Media ‘The Enemy of the American People’