Why Believe Fake News?

Fake news.

Fake news.

Trump calls the mainstream press “fake.” And the press reports it.

Fake news?

It’s confusing.

Meanwhile Trump informs us:

  • He had the biggest inaugural crowd ever
  • He won the electoral college by the biggest margin
  • What he believes can change from minute to minute

Fake?

I feel like I’ve fallen into an Orwellian 1984.

Why do people want to believe fake news?

Populism, bought and paid for 

The Women’s March was bought and paid for? So who paid me and all of my friends?

Town Hall protests are bought and paid for? Even the Wall Street Journal says no.

It’s so hard to believe that:

  • Many of us are terrified that we, or our friends and families will lose healthcare?
  • That our air and water will be poisoned so that oil and coal companies can make bigger profits?
  • That our planet will keep warming — creating more severe weather like droughts or flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes…
  • … And we will pay the costs — so that oil and coal companies can make bigger profits?
  • That more women will die when Planned Parenthood is defunded and can no longer offer cancer screenings?
  • Or die when birth control and abortion are illegal and desperate women and girls try to do it themselves?

Divide and conquer working people

Fake news has often been used to divide and conquer working people.

Many white working-class folks believe that their taxes support lazy black and brown people, which increases racism.

Meanwhile, racism and sexism on the right alienates women, black and brown people from many of their white working-class counterparts.

We lose and the elite win.

The crime rate is soaring and so is unemployment. NOT

Not true.

Affordable care is a terrible thing

In a twist on fake news, a Republican Congress repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) about 50 times.

Why don’t they repeal it now that they hold power in all branches of government?

T’was all an act — to generate the fake news that affordable care was a bad thing.

The ACA was never perfect — as Bill Clinton declared during in the 2016 race. Most likely it will be tweaked and rebranded Trumpcare.

If they believe you, you can fail and still win

You can fail yet still win if you can get people to believe your story over the truth.

It’s a great way to manipulate the masses.

And it’s a sign of dictators who censor the press and reign in the Judiciary (two things Trump has attempted).

Sean Spicer once admitted that banning the media is what dictatorships do.

That (a free press) is what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.

And if you can’t legally ban the press you can get people to ban it personally — create distrust so that no one reads it.

Why do so many of us allow ourselves to be manipulated instead of doing everything we can to learn the truth…

…and then push our representatives to serve the people?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 3, 2017, in politics/class inequality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. hellen_sims@hotmail.com

    Thx for bringing clarity to fake news and why it has so many people stumbling/fumbling around. Yes we can and yes we must unite againstt an undemocratic government built on lies and deceit.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve noticed that even many conservatives are starting to worry about all the fake news. In the end it won’t work for anyone as we all run around in the dark.

  2. “We only see what we want to see; we only hear what we want to hear. Our belief system is just like a mirror that only shows us what we believe.” — Don Miguel Ruiz
    We normally get into the rather tricky habit of telling people what they want to hear or more aptly, what we think they want to hear. We project our fears and beliefs about conflict, criticism, and also what we perceive as being ‘loving’, and we duck out of being honest, which is expressing the truth with respect. But when we habitually tell people what we think that they want to hear, we not only wind up being dishonest but we also wind people up.
    I read an article. Basically, when presented with the option of fact-checking, our brains just make a snap decision because it’s easier. If the argument seems convincing, our brains like to believe it. Of course, we have our biases, and that plays into the problem as well. We like to be right and hear things that affirm our existing beliefs — confirmation bias.
    This is your subject of speciality, Georgia, you can explain it better.

    • I do understand being in denial. But in the long run we just get hurt.

      Maybe we supported a President who says he will work in our interests. If we choose to believe fake news he can work against us and we will never even realize it. And we will be worse off, not better off.

      Instead of being in denial, why not push him to do things that help us. And it helps to know what will actually help us instead of scapegoating people. At our rate of automation plenty of companies will bring jobs back to the US, and automate them. And then people in China and Mexico won’t have money to buy our products because they won’t have jobs either. So our export industry suffers and we lose a lot of jobs.

      There are ways to help American workers but this won’t be very helpful in the end.

      I recommend creating good pain infrastructure jobs and raising wages. We are at practically Full employment levels now. The problem is that the jobs don’t pay enough. And that is largely because our gov, and businesses, have policies that redistribute wealth from workers to top executives in the owners.

      And the reason why the US has laws that redistribute wealth from workers to owners is because of the corrupting influence of big money in politics. And now Trump has nominated a right wing supreme court justice who wants to protect the corrupting influence of big money in politics so that only the voices of the wealthy are heard and the rest of us are drowned out.

  3. Ultimately people want to read the “news” that reinforces their beliefs. Even before the proliferation of fake news that was evident in the newspapers people chose to read and the TV stations they chose to watch. When the barriers to distributing information publicly were eliminated it became easy to exploit that. And in a digital environment where click bait brings a higher reward than brilliant analysis, we became pretty vulnerable. It is one of the main reasons we are so divided as a society.

  4. I don’t like to comment on political or religious things on social media. I did read this and was reminded of Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. Just wanted you to know that I do pay attention. Hope you don’t mind my neutrality on-line. 🙂

    • Thanks for trying Mayne in on this one 🙂

      You know, even though so many people are in denial — believing fake news is real, I can’t help but think that there must be some small voice in the back of their heads very quietly warning them that it’s fake. And will hurt them in the end.

  5. Almost every poll I am seeing indicates half the people don’t trust mainstream media, 25% have their doubts about mainstream media and only 25% trust mainstream media.

    I think if mainstream media had stuck with reporting, they would not have lost the trust of the American people, but their editorials made it clear they weren’t neutral reporters.

    I suspect the outcome of the recent presidential election was not so much support of President Trump as it was a rejection of both the Democratic and Republican parties establishments, politicians in general, big donors, Hollywood elites and the media by the ordinary people of American, the same ones who elected President Obama to two terms.

    When the USA swings too far left, the middle pulls us to the right. When we get too far right, the middle pulls us left. The middle is the only group that really matters since the left always votes left and the right always votes right.

    When you live in the rust belt and see so many manufacturing jobs leaving the country, can you really expect someone to vote for more of the same.

    Nevertheless, I enjoy your posts and the perspectives they provide and I appreciate your positions.

    • I will be writing more about this later but I will have to start out by saying that

      1) editorializing – giving your opinion – is not fake news. Left and right have done it for years. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is almost completely right wing. The New York Times editorial page is mostly left-wing, with some right wing contributors and columnists. However, the news pages aren’t fake for either of these news publications.

      2) in the last few years the right wing media has purposefully created fake news. Like all of the things I listed in this blog post. And more. There is no liberal equivalent. And this is the reason why people are believing fake news.

      Now even some conservatives are beginning to worry that what they started will create a lot of problems long-term.

      • Yes, I think we can all agree the op-ed section of a newspaper is merely the expression of opinions. It is not news at all.

        However, to assert that the Right has a monopoly on fake news is simply absurd and fundamentally dishonest.

        The problem today with the new media is that they no longer behave like professional journalists. A journalist, in my mind, is someone who seeks out the facts and reports them as the news, period. This no longer exist with the “mainstream media.”

        The major news organizations are 90% Left and openly pro Democrat. So, whenever they are criticized, they spin it as an attack on the free press. It is interesting that conservative news organizations do not see it as such.

        Look at today’s headline on Yahoo.com when I signed on this morning..

        “Journalists often seen by leaders as “enemy of the people”

        The article begins by saying, “President Donald Trump’s assertion that journalists are “the enemy of the people,” with its dark echoes of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has reverberated through news organizations reporting from the White House and far beyond.”

        Now, let’s take a look at what President Donald Trump ACTUALLY said (via Twitter),

        “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

        In the example above, President Trump NEVER said journalists were the enemy of the people. He was SPECIFICALLY referring to these Left/Democrat mouthpiece organizations. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF FAKE NEWS FROM THE LEFT!

        Clearly, you can see what the issue is here. Obviously, these news organizations see themselves as journalist..I do not. Their occupation is that of a journalist. But, what they ACTUALLY practice is not journalism. They are just partisan hacks of the Left, HRC, and the Democrats.

        There are other examples…President Obama deported over 2.5 million illegal aliens. But, when President Donald Trump started, the New York Times headlines referenced a “Deportation Force.”

        “Mr. Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’ Prepares an Assault on American Values”

        Where was the NYT outrage about the “assault on American Values” for the EXACT same actions by President Obama? So, are they really journalist or partisan jackasses pissed off because their lousy corrupt candidate lost? I think the latter.

        Who can have respect for this kind of behavior? Even Fox New which is right of center DOES have people who often critique President Trump. Maybe that is why their viewership dwarfs CNN, MSNBC and others combined…

        According to a Rasmussen poll last month, about 51% of those who were Dems trusted the media, only 32% of those who were Independents trusted the media, and merely 17% of Republicans trusted the media. These numbers support what we consistently see with the media: many Americans are very skeptical.

        So, what is wrong with a President expressing the same degree of skepticism over the news media that the rest of American also share?

        Lastly, as evidence that the left creates FAKE news (very fake news), see this site for yourself,

        http://projectveritas.com/2017/02/01/fakenews-awards-best-fake-news-headline-2016-to-washpo-for-vt-russian-hacking-incident/

      • But @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN aren’t fake news.

        The widespread distrust of media makes it easy to manipulate people. And I have seen no evidence that the sources above are fake.

        I have seen a lot of evidence that Trump lies about things: like @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN are fake news, his inauguration crowd size was not bigger then Barack Obama’s, PolitiFact found Trump the most dishonest politician this year — and possibly ever — with 76% of his statements rated “false.” … And most recently he lied about Obama wiretapping him.

        … He ran as a populist and yet is appointing people to his cabinet that will hurt the working class, Like the labor secretary who is anti-labor and he Supreme Court nominee who will bolster the corrupting power of big money in politics that leaves the rest of us without a voice.

        “Conservatism should be a reality-based philosophy, and the movement will be better off if it recognizes that facts really do matter.
        “There may be short-term advantages to running headlines about millions of illegal immigrants voting or secret United Nations plots to steal your guns, but the longer the right enables such fabrications, the weaker it will be in the long run.”

        — right-wing talk show host, Charlie Sykes https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/opinion/sunday/why-nobody-cares-the-president-is-lying.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

        Donald Trump: Lord of the Lies
        https://broadblogs.com/2016/07/22/donald-trump-lord-of-the-lies/

  6. “Conservatism should be a reality-based philosophy, and the movement will be better off if it recognizes that facts really do matter.

    “There may be short-term advantages to running headlines about millions of illegal immigrants voting or secret United Nations plots to steal your guns, but the longer the right enables such fabrications, the weaker it will be in the long run.”

    — Right-wing talk show host, Charlie Sykes

  7. There is a very thin line between fake and real and it can be manipulated very well by weaving words…so called leaders who wish to be all important focus on that line to mislead the masses. All people don’t possess the potential to sift the facts and therefore can be easily swayed. This has been an age-old practice to grab power…only now it has become an open secret due to instant news and expertise of too may people. Real issues get swept away in the discussion of who is right or wrong! What a sad state of affairs!
    Thanks for sharing the above link Georgia and an enlightening post.

  8. Thank God the rest of America is not like California..

    I get it now…Dem and Leftist are good…we Republicans and Conservatives are Evil. Yeah.

    Look who is winning in America. That’s what matters the most.

    Your ideas are failing. Ours are winning. So you resort to trying to stop people from freely expressing themselves and other undemocratic tactics. You will not win. Never.

    I am supremely confident that we will be triumphant.

    Freedom works!!

    • First, the states that are in the best shape are blue states like California and New York. The states with The highest level of poverty are red states like in the south.

      But what I don’t understand is why people want to believe fake news. If you don’t have accurate information it’s a lot easier to vote against your own interests.

      • btw, I’m not interested in arguing. I’m interested in understanding how Trump supporters see things. And I’m still not clear too on this.

  9. “And if you can’t legally ban the press you can get people to ban it personally — create distrust so that no one reads it.”

    Right, because when we’re told by our overlords not to read something, we obey it like good little robots, right?

    Frankly, if you are that weak willed and easily led, you shouldn’t be reading the news anyway.. or breeding.

    • And yet I know an awful lot of conservatives who refuse to read anything other than right-wing media.

    • “And yet I know an awful lot of conservatives who refuse to read anything other than right-wing media.”

      I see. Do you watch Fox TV? Do you watch prominent right wing personalities on YouTube?

      What are the right to think of the open mindedness of left wing ideologues when they riot in their thousands to stop the free speech of Milo Yiannopoulos to accuse him of being a white supremacist, when he has a black boyfriend, and a Jewish mother? Where is the evidence that the left even has a comprehension of what the debate is actually about, let alone have a response to it?

      • I know many conservatives who will only read right-wing news and nothing else.

        I don’t know any liberals who will only read liberal news and nothing else.

        I do know of some liberals who try to keep right-wingers from speaking on campus. I think that is crazy. If you have confidence in your own ideas you don’t have to fear the marketplace of ideas.

        I personally watch Joe Scarborough and read Ross Douthat on a regular basis. I also watch Bill Maher, who gets quite a few conservatives on his show, including Milo Yiannopoulos.

        And I regularly talk to various right-wing relatives of mine to get their perspective on things. I even ask my right wing readers to give me their thoughts. Like with this post.

        I can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t listen to the other side. Why would anyone want to be ignorant of a variety of points of view?

      • “I don’t know any liberals who will only read liberal news and nothing else.”

        “I do know of some liberals who try to keep right-wingers from speaking on campus.”

        These 2 statements ^^^^^^ sound contradictory to me. What chance is there to hear your ideological opponents when you will start a riot in preference to having them speak?

        Maybe it only appears as if the left wing won’t listen, since they are the only side trying to silence their opponents rather than listen.

        A recent classic case was Richard Dawkins tweeted a Youtube cartoon that lampooned Islam and Feminism as two ideologies that were similar in wanting to silence their opponents. In response the NECSS disinvited Dawkins to speak at their conference, thus vindicating Dawkins’ tweet.

        Then, in final irony, NECSS claims on its web site that “We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views.”

      • The liberals — a minority of liberals — who fight to keep right-wingers from speaking on campus don’t only read left-wing media. They will read mainstream media too. I’m not saying that liberals habitually read right-wing media. But I try to listen to conservative perspectives on most days of the week. And if I’m visiting family I have no choice in the matter.

        (I grew up Republican but became a Democrat after watching the way Republicans vote consistently to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. But I went through a few years of being an Independent first.)

  10. People who believe fake news don’t realize that in the end, they will be hurt as well and as much as the working class. Like you said in class Republicans are pro life but once they come out of the womb, republicans don’t support healthcare, welfare, and other supporting programs in the United States. He calls it Fake News because the fake news is going against him, and he feels powerless when people are against him, so he uses techniques like shit talking and smart talking. People don’t pay people to come support there marches and if so, they get a lot more people then Trump will ever get. Trump just likes to be the center of attention, he wants to go against what the people want, that’s why he makes all these ridiculous executive orders and is trying to make this an all white nation. But we can stop him if we all work hard and go against him.

    • I’ve never been more worried about the maturity of a President. Actually, I’ve never even worried about the maturity of a President before. Not to mention policy that hurts so many Americans– including the working people who voted for him. We are in for a bumpy ride — at best. Cross your fingers.

  11. I like how you brought up the idea of fake news dividing the people I have always thought of the bigger corporate news (NBC, CBS, ect..) To swing one way and show only what they think is stable to show for the public, feed them just a little truth but nothing that will panic the people or hurt the image of the U.S. . Although the news holds some truth to it, I always remember that there are still editors and news anchors are given TelePrompTers to know what to say to the public word for word, one never knows what the truth is only by self informing can we know whats truth v. what is a lie.

  12. In this post, it’s focusing on the big debate that’s been going on in Media the last past weeks. Donald Trump, the US president means that the press is unreal and don’t produce factual statement. The article also focus on one important sentence “That (a free press) is what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” I believe it’s important to focus on the importance of the free press. In the US constitution one of the first amendments is the right to speech, to make up an opinion about something. On the one hand, the media does that a lot. They make up an opinion about Donald Trump’s view on women or on abortion, and sometimes I can understand that it’s frustrating to see your own sentences and worlds get twisted and messed with, however you are the president of the US. It’s impossible to imagine that you will not receive any hate or negative views. The US is a country of over 300 million people, of course people want agree with you all the time. Although, former president Obama had struggles with some media too, it’s a part of the deal when you become president.

  13. Again, this whole ordeal with trump really baffles me. I really do not understand why they are claiming fake news or alternative facts. And as mentioned, this does have qualities of a dictatorship. Even though its not spoken of here, I wonder with all the things mentioned above, does Trump think being president means he can be just like a dictator and rule over us? These things make me wonder and think a lot about him and his cabinet. Also pointed out, I wonder why they lie about the facts, when the real facts are actually known, and they are proven wrong. A lot of what trump and his cabinet says really just confuses me as to why they do it.

    • He and Steve Bannon kind of freak me out. I hope the country can hold.

    • “does Trump think being president means he can be just like a dictator and rule over us? ”

      Uh, yeah it does. The President of the United States has extraodinary executive power. If you don’t like it, maybe you’ll have to agitate for a constitutional amendment. I might point out though that virtually all democracies give similar executive power to their leaders, presidents or Prime Ministers.

      • Actually, the President of the United States is limited by various checks and balances. And that seems to be annoying the heck out of him. And so he is trying to get more power, and come closer to being a dictator, by fighting limits on his power like the judiciary and a Free Press.

        There is very little he can get passed without Congress. On his first day he signed all sorts of executive orders which mostly did nothing. Mostly, they were symbolic.

      • The powers of the President of the United States are certainly limited, but they are also extensive. I’m not an expert on the exact power of the president, but the executive of most modern liberal democracies have the power to deal with issues related to foreign powers and matters related to foreign nationals quite extensively, up to and including going to war. Again, that’s the system you live under. There’s a pretty good chance that the judges ruling against him are actually exceeding THEIR power, but we won’t find that out for sure unless they take it to the highest courts.

        I can’t take seriously the claim that he did anything to the free press, as if he is obligated to talk to every loser who fronts up claiming to be a journalist.

      • He isn’t putting shackles on the press. He is trying to put shackles on peoples minds. (And succeeding in some cases.)

        And he’s not alone. For many years right wing media has tried to get conservatives to avoid any new sources other then their’s — which has worked splendidly to get working class people to consistently vote in the interests of the wealthy and against their own interests.

        The irony is that the Republican primary was filled with this information, Which was a big reason behind Trump’s support. But now that he has power he is falling in line and consistently promoting policy that hurts the working class and helps the wealthy.

  14. I’m sure a big trend in 2017 will be fake news being called real, and real news being called fake. I blame the media some for Trump even being elected in the first place. When he first stated he was running for president, and the media knew all of the awful things he had said about so many people that live in America, it was everywhere. On every website, news station, news paper. Someone with views that are against so many people who live in this country should be ignored. The media should not have given him the platform to spew his hate from. It reminds me of school shooters who are all over the media after killing children, instead of the victims families, it is the shooter and the story of his upbringing. The media gives too much attention to people who do not deserve it. And it could have been different if the media did not give Trump such time on every media platform there is.

  15. Obviously news organizations will put their own slant or bias on stories, meaning they can differ hugely, but hasn’t that always been the case? Even the news corporations who pride themselves on being “balanced” are not immune to bias. The worrying thing to me is what I am hearing coming straight from the mouth of the President. It’s frightening that so many of his claims and accusations are presented as facts. My concern is that anything said by Trump with conviction and force is taken as fact. If that’s the example we have as a nation it won’t be long before anyone thinks that whatever they believe and say forcefully is fact. That attitude will destroy any advancements made in the name of feminism. I have a friend who teaches middle school, and already the students there are pushing their own crazy ideas or lies calling them “alternative facts”. Scary stuff.

    • Yeah, human beings are not capable of a complete lack of bias. But they are capable of not telling outright lies.

      And people who believe lies will end up getting hurt because it’s easy to manipulate if people are willing to believe this stuff.

  16. People with the most money have the most power. As long as you have the money you can influence a person dealing in politics. It is very easy to put fake news out there these days as well just because of social media and the internet making everything blow up. All it takes is for a few people to believe in it and share it and it spreads like wildfire.

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