'Fake News, the Phenomenon That Is Now Sweeping, Well, the News'
Every year the editors at PolitiFact scour the past tweleve months of stories to determine what they see as the "Lie of the Year." Sarah Palin's "death panels" lie won in 2009, while ObamaCare opponents' claim the Affordable Care Act was a "government takeover of healthcare" won in 2010. This year, the "Lie of the Year" has been awarded in a rare bipartisan, equal opportunity fashion: Fake News gets the crown.
The fact checking organization explains why "fake news, the phenomenon that is now sweeping, well, the news," won.
"Fake news is made-up stuff, masterfully manipulated to look like credible journalistic reports that are easily spread online to large audiences willing to believe the fictions and spread the word," PolitiFact reports, offering these examples:
Fake news: Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop.
Fake news: Democrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida.
Fake news: Thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan chanted, "We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back."
Meanwhile, PolitiFact readers voted to award the "Lie of the Year" award to the entire 2016 election.
But the PolitiFact fact-checkers also devolved into a typical practice that they don't call out: false equivalency.
"Fake news found a willing enabler in Trump, who at times uttered outrageous falsehoods and legitimized made-up reports. Clinton emboldened her detractors and turned off undecideds with a lawyerly parsing of facts that left many feeling that she was lying. Her enemies ran wild."
Notice how Clinton presenting the facts she wanted to, while, as Trump did too, ignoring those she didn't care for, is positioned to equate to Trump's blatant lies, like saying he won the popular vote - if you take out the 3 million illegal votes.
There is no comparison.
And in fact, PolitiFact's own examination of Trump's comments vs. Clinton's comments show Trump told the truth, to varying degrees, just 30% of the time, while Clinton told the truth 75% of the time, based on the comments PolitiFact editors checked.
Still, it's good that this fake news plague America is besieged by is at least getting attention, and news consumers are growing more careful.
That's a win.
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