The truth about fake news. Believe it.
Fake news arrives on doorsteps around the world every day, paid for by You, Time magazine Person of the Year, a.k.a. Joe and Jane Citizen, in one way or another. Take for instance, the U.S. governmentâ€™s 2005 initiative to plant â€œpositive newsâ€ in Iraqi newspapers, part of a $300 million U.S. effort to sway public opinion about the war. And remember Armstrong Williams, the conservative columnist who was hired on the down low to act as a $240,000 sock puppet for the presidentâ€™s No Child Left Behind program? Williamsâ€™s readers had no idea he was a paid propagandist until the Justice Department started looking into allegations of fraud in his billing practices.
Fake news has had its lush innings. The Bush administration has worked hand-in-glove with big business to make sure of it. Together, theyâ€™ve credentialed fringe scientists and fake experts and sent them in to muddy scientific debates on global warming, stem cell research, evolution, and other matters. And as if that werenâ€™t enough, the Department of Health and Human Services got caught producing a series of deceptive video news releasesâ€” VNRs in p.r.-industry parlanceâ€”touting the administrationâ€™s Medicare plan. The segments, paid political announcements really, ended with a fake journalist signing off like a real oneâ€”â€œIn Washington, Iâ€™m Karen Ryan reporting,â€ and they ran on local news shows all over the country without disclosure. All of this fakery taken together, it may be fair to say that the nationâ€™s capital has been giving Comedy Central a run for its money as the real home of fake news.