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Lies Painted as News in the Trump Era

Mainstream media in America faces a crisis, they are out of touch, and it helped cost Clinton the election


Many on the right, heralding Donald Trump’s side, have often depicted the mainstream media as left wing fanatics, unfairly focusing on the flaws of the right and skipping over potentially embarrassing ‘truths’.

‘Truths’ such as plots by America’s Kenyan-born Muslim president to serve a third term as an illegitimate president by allowing Hillary Clinton to win and then indicting her. Perhaps you would have also missed how Pope Francis’ endorsement of Donald Trump helped avert electoral fraud.

Clinton has also been said to be a Satan worshiper at the centre of an international child enslavement and sex ring. And of course that Chelsea Clinton isn’t Bill Clinton’s daughter, but a love child of Hillary’s by another man – to go along with Bill’s own love child with a black prostitute.

Indeed, these are all claims made by the right. Lies, dressed as news.

None of the stories are true, of course. However, they have been reported as such by alt-right or other fake news websites. One big takeaway from the election is that fake news websites, and those who support them, are on the rise in America. Even now, only 44 percent of Republicans accept the reality that Obama was born in the US.

The Alt-Right Media

This is through the availability and distribution of articles through un-vetted social media, and the persistent assertions by further reaching news outlets such as Fox News that the mainstream media consistently misses the ‘scoops’.

However, it is true, in some ways the mainstream media did bungle the coverage of Trump. There was too much uncritical coverage because he was good for ratings – and not enough investigation into his business dealings, racism and history of sexual assaults. The sense of false equivalency of these issues with Hillary Clinton’s email server played a big part in the election result.

Although the 2016 campaign and all of its poison is now behind us, the alt-right websites will continue to produce misinformation that ultimately undermines democracy and tolerance.

An investigation by BuzzFeed found that of the Facebook posts it examined from three major right-wing websites, a staggering 39 percent were either false, or a combination of truth and falsehood. However, it was the lies that the readers were most eager to share, and thus most profitable to publish.

Facebook has become a powerful platform. The algorithm dictates that once you click and read red, you continue to see more of it, and vice versa with blue. And if you have friends who are similarly inclined politically, then the content continues to grow and grow down one party line. So when a user sees numerous articles telling them that Hillary Clinton ought to, and will be, indicted for her crimes, they may believe it.

Once described as alt-right – because they were founded on the basis that there needed to be an alternative to the mainstream media – these websites have become so influential that they are now morphing into the mainstream. And now, Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart, a particularly misinforming website has been appointed as Trump’s chief strategist. A stunning, and dangerous move.

The problem with mainstream media is that they do not listen to the outrageous claims of this alt-right. They are disconnected and out of touch. When Americans come to believe lies such as that the pope endorsed Trump, or that Barack and Michelle Obama un-endorsed Clinton, those are assaults on the political system and the mainstream media should challenge them.