by Amna El Tawil
That four-letter word shaped the entire Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton blamed her loss on fake news, while Trump also used the term to describe all those negative reports about him in the media. While false reports and fake news aren’t nice to see or hear, the truth is they have a tremendous impact on politics today.
Trump and his team were at both ends of fake news, just like other politicians (that’s undeniable). In some cases, they were victims of false reports while in other instances they started them to gain an advantage over the competition. For example, President Trump started testing out political waters back in 2011 when he stated that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim and he never went to Columbia University saying: “Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I’ll go a step further: the people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.” Okay, this particular issue is more complex and it’s impossible to brand it as fake news, but it does confirm that politicians, with no exception, try to dig deeper in a bid to discredit others. It’s a matter of survival, actually.
The current president of the United States also suggested on “Fox & Friends” that Rafael Cruz, the father of his then-rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy saying: “You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald [sic] being, you know, shot, I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous, what is this? Right prior to his being shot and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it… What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.” It is believed that this statement is a product of multiple conspiracy theories regarding Ted Cruz. One of those theories also suggests that he could be the Zodiac (serial killer that has never been arrested).
There are also other false reports including that climate change is a hoax set up by China. At the same time, Trump was also at the receiving end of fake news including the one claiming that he hates the First amendment only because he said it is overprotected and people use it for hate speech. He elaborated that freedom of press nowadays is considered as one’s ability to say absolutely everything, even when it’s false.
It is not “freedom of the press” when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016
Let’s not forget the Trump dossier that was published a few weeks ago and exposed details about his private and business life, only for President to deny everything. Paul Roderick Gregory of Forbes wrote: “Trump is right: The Orbis dossier is fake news. This story makes no sense. In 2011, when the courtship purportedly begins, Trump was a TV personality and beauty pageant impresario. Neither in the U.S. or Russia would anyone of authority anticipate that Trump would one day become the presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party, making him the target of Russian intelligence.”
Social media networks, primarily Facebook, are the main culprits for the widespread of fake news. Let’s take the past presidential campaign as an example, during these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.
Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Now, we are witnessing same problems with Trump’s inauguration. One thing is for sure, while fake news benefit politicians in their goal to take the advantage over the competition, they also benefit various websites that earn money with clicks. It is their intention to have as many clicks on news as possible, and fake news does some more scandalous, which attracts readers.
Although anti-Trump people would say he should be discredited for the sudden rise of fake news, that’s not really realistic and it shouldn’t develop like that. In fact, this news only contribute to Trump’s popularity, thus securing him electoral votes, people’s trust, and ability to make a change in the country. In fact, this only calls for transparency of media and politicians, stresses the importance of quality and helps people understand the consequences that false reports can have.