Opinion: Fake news produces an all-too-real presidency

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At the peak of the campaign, with Donald Trump stoking fears that the election would be stolen, Cameron Harris saw a business opportunity. Like many a business opportunity, it involved discerning what people wanted and then giving it to them.

As he confessed this week to the New York Times, the 23-year-old Harris simply invented a news story. Its headline read “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse,” complete with a photograph of the allegedly pre-marked ballots, and once Harris posted it to his website, it went viral. People lapped it up as confirmation of the very thing that Trump had warned them about, everything that conservative politicians and media figures had spent years preparing them to believe about voter fraud.

Liberals had always responded to claims about voter fraud by pointing out that there was zero evidence to substantiate them, but here, finally, conservatives had the proof to shut those liberals up. Some six million people clicked on the figment of Harris’s imagination, making him a tidy ad-driven profit of more than $20,000 for five minutes’ work.

That story tells us something that is both obvious and controversial: Right-wing Americans are far more susceptible to fake news than their more liberal counterparts. Put more bluntly, conservatives are bigger suckers, and for confirmation of that claim I turn to two sources.

The first is the marketplace, the conservative’s ultimate arbiter of truth. If liberals and conservatives were equally susceptible to fake news, they would have roughly equivalent industries catering to that susceptibility. They do not. The fake-news industry, from Alex Jones and Infowars to Glenn Beck to Breitbart and Drudge, is overwhelmingly pitched to gratify the conservative need for validation and support. Fake-news purveyors from as far away as Macedonia have acknowledged that they work the conservative side of the aisle for the same reason that Willy Sutton robbed banks: Because that’s where the money is.

enquirerThe next time you’re in a grocery-store checkout line, take a look at the granddaddy of the fake-news industry, National Enquirer. It has fully embraced the pro-Trump, fake-news ethos, shamelessly inventing stories that make Trump into a hero and his opponents into traitors. Whatever its other failings, it knows its market perfectly.

From an economic point of view, it makes perfect sense. For years, I was astonished by the obviously ludicrous stories that many conservatives would swap by email among themselves, and that would inevitably make their way into my inbox as “proof” of something or other. It was inevitable that sharpsters would recognize that market opportunity and scale it up from informal cottage industry to major profit center.

In the wake of his confession, Cameron has been fired from his job as aide to a Republican state legislator in Maryland. That’s a small justice, I suppose, but within the Republican Party the rewards that come with trafficking and trucking in fake news remain enormous.

Remember, the biggest fake-news story of the past decade is the claim that Barack Obama had been born overseas, had somehow faked his birth in Hawaii and was thus an illegitimate , unconstitutional president. The most prominent purveyor of that claim and many other fake news claims — “Ted Cruz’s Daddy Helped Kill JFK!” — has been Trump. In any other era, in any other party, any candidate who made such ludicrous claims so shamelessly would have been shamed off the ballot.

In this era, that man is about to be inaugurated as our new president.

Reader Comments 0

1634 comments
Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Waiting with baited breath for the BOOK's first ramblings after the Trump regime begins, surely it will be Earth Shattering as the World as Jay knew it Comes to an End.

RantNRave
RantNRave

@Buschleaguer


I predict that The Chump* won't


last a year.


He just cut his own throat.


#not our president

RantNRave
RantNRave

That son of a b!tch just threw


the cons and dems under the bus.


He sounds like a damn narcissistic


DICTATOR !


Get ready you Useful Idiots


he will turn on you too.


He got the nerve to quote the bible.


Karma is gonna whup his @$$!



Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@RantNRave tell us useful idiots more, what has Fearless Leader done. The Audacity of quoting scripture, he is surely going to pay for that. 

td1234
td1234

@RantNRave Either get on board to make America great again or 'We" will be coming after you as well.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

I'm sure as the Obama's packed up to vacate the WH, Obama didn't take the "The Buck Stops Here" placard.  He never really liked that phrase, anyway.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

Celeste Sollars, who said she and her husband came to town from Kansas to see the inauguration, said they were spit on and her husband was put in a chokehold by protesters.
"The cops wouldn't do anything,” she said, crying. “This is not how it was supposed to be -- assault is not a First Amendment right.”   The "tolerance" of the left on display for the world to see.===============================================================So the cops seen a lady get spit on and her husband get put in a chokehold and the police just watched. Doesn't sound too believable.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@BuckeyeGa The police are on a tight leash.They don't want to get in any trouble on Loretta Lynch's last weekend as AG.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@BuckeyeGa @Buschleaguer Same as your comment buckeye, doesn't sound believable to you so it must be fake news. You are the sole arbiter on what is real or logical. I got it !

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Buschleaguer @BuckeyeGa Police standing by watching a lady get spit on and her husband choked doesn't sound believable. that seems like an anti-police POV.I guess I have more faith in the police then  you do..

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@BuckeyeGa @Buschleaguer Anti police is the new norm of the democratic party. Did you not see the AG's reports on the Chicago PD, and how the violence and murder in Chicago is attributed to the lack of  "appropriate police actions".

I would hope any law enforcement officer would protect anyone who is attacked regardless of their political views. But the reality is a lot of officers are cautious when it comes to getting involved in breaking up crowds of what are supposed to be peaceful protesters .It is not until after the violence gets out of control that the police respond forcefully. These two tourists from Kansas were likely caught up in what is hopefully an isolated instance of violence.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

Aaaand blocking people's access to the inauguration, breaking windows, and spitting on people is just like the Boston Tea Party.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

Inauguration Day protests turned violent late Friday morning, as spectators reported being attacked and a police official said demonstrators were vandalizing property and even torched a car.

Amid reports that demonstrators were smashing windows, including at a local McDonald's, the police official confirmed protesters “have crow bars and are vandalizing.”

At one security checkpoint near the Capitol that was shut down for hours earlier Friday morning due to protesters, a couple from Kansas also told FoxNews.com they were attacked by demonstrators.

Celeste Sollars, who said she and her husband came to town from Kansas to see the inauguration, said they were spit on and her husband was put in a chokehold by protesters.

"The cops wouldn't do anything,” she said, crying. “This is not how it was supposed to be -- assault is not a First Amendment right.”   The "tolerance" of the left on display for the world to see.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@DownInAlbany 

Inauguration Day protests turned violent late Friday morning

-

Well that's what happens when you have a president who ran on a program of hate and incitement. 

Better steel yourself. There's plenty more where that came from.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Donnie_Pinko @DownInAlbany Always someone else's fault when the left gets violent. I remember such riots in '08 and '12 when the dems won and the GOP lost, wait there were not any protests or violence ,just a peaceful transition.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Buschleaguer @Donnie_Pinko @DownInAlbany 

The left? 

Who says these people are even left? 

These are largely people who have been directly threatened by the man now taking the most powerful office in the land. 

This is simple self-defense.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Donnie_Pinko @DownInAlbany So the left is given a pass because practicing hate and division because Trump ran on a program of hate and incitement, so by your assumption there  should be an equal amount of Trump supporters rioting and attacking the dems enacting TRump's program of hate and division.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Donnie_Pinko @Buschleaguer @DownInAlbany A totally absurd vision of self defense .attacking tourists coming to see the peaceful transfer of power in the US. If they truly want to attack the power why don't these Brave Downtrodden masses charge the stage where the rich and powerful will actually be gathered.Rather than attack "soft targets" like random tourists .

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Donnie_Pinko I guess most of the cons are working today,especially the ones who work for banks and the government ,being as they were already off on this past Monday. 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Donnie_Pinko  Most of the Trump supporters are at work.  A million or more attended Obama's inauguration.  Only 14 missed work.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Buschleaguer @Donnie_Pinko I've never watched an inauguration due to always working.  I even worked through many Superbowls while at Domino's Pizza since it is the biggest sales day of the year for them.  Tips are usually good during the Superbowl.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

The proggies are the ones protesting or boycotting the inauguration, but, it's the cons that are crying???  That's rich! 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

The NYTimes article to which I was referring:

‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/politics/rick-perry-energy-secretary-donald-trump.html?_r=2&mtrref=www.mediaite.com&gwh=396C570BCCEE31D7EF08DE1626C41F91&gwt=pay

It set out to make Perry look like a dumba$$ when it's clear he knew full well that nuclear security was the responsibility of the DoE but he didn't think it should be. He would have transferred that responsibility to the Department of Defense.

O.U.T.

OUT! 

Bruno2
Bruno2

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."--- Kurt Vonnegut

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@HDB0329 @DownInAlbany  Blocking public access is not a protected expression.  Just like blocking a highway is not protected.  These folks are just making @sses of themselves.  No one in their right mind thinks that the "other side" will take you seriously when you trample on my rights.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@DownInAlbany ....actually, they DO have respect!! They are PEACEFUL!! Free expression is a First Amendment right!!

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@DownInAlbany George Washington had not respect either huh?  This country was founded on civil disobedience.  Ooops, you didn't know that?