In the weeks following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in last month’s election, liberal journalists have launched an all-out assault on “fake news,” which some have blamed for the disconnect between political journalists and everyday Americans.
But many of those same journalists seem unable to agree on a consistent definition of what “fake news” is, oftentimes pushing leading conservative and alternative media organizations that provide ideological balance in the public forum under the same “fake news” umbrella alongside websites whose entire purpose is generating viral hoaxes.
Left-leaning BuzzFeed News’ coverage of “fake news” — which has been subject to accusations of misleading the public in service of a narrative — has focused on hoax websites run by teenagers in Macedonia pushing out lies like “Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump.”
Other left-leaning news organizations, meanwhile, have lumped in legitimate news organizations alongside objectively fake sources.
A list of “fake news” sites compiled by a liberal college professor — a list that was uncritically accepted and distributed by some liberal journalists — included top right-of-center sites like Independent Journal Review (IJR) and The Blaze alongside objectively fake sites. Left-leaning media organizations like the Los Angeles Times and New York magazine distributed the list to their readers.
One website that the Washington Post labeled “fake news” — without providing a single piece of evidence — is threatening to sue the Post for defamation, after being included on a similar list.
In an article last summer, liberal New York Magazine writer Brian Feldman tried to argue that “conservative news” and “fake news” are the same thing.
That some liberal journalists are lumping in legitimate news organizations alongside objectively false sites while at the same time calling for censorship of fake news has lead to concerns that the crackdown on fake news sites — the actual influence of which remains unknown — will be used by liberals to censor their conservative competitors.