Of all of Trump’s rants, Fake News riles me most
There truly are many wonders in this life, like the Donald Trump presidency in the US that is happening to us all. While it is true that spending time away from social media is healthy for you, and at this point it is also prudent, it is almost impossible to look away from Trump’s Twitter account.
I am not ashamed to admit that he has me mesmerised to the point where the daily news sweep has to start with him. First, to make sure he hasn’t doomed us all to nuclear war and once that fear has been allayed just to see what has angered him.
Just by being himself, President Trump has single handedly done things to the media that I don’t think we have fully grasped yet. But the one that really has me riled up is the Fake News issue. It seemed like such an easily dismissed joke at first, something that a schoolyard bully with no imagination would come up with. But if he has one skill, President Trump can repeat himself to the end of days. Now this term has gained traction.
What was wrong with all the old terms? They are so much more precise. You can accuse journalists of bias, misrepresentation, having poor facts, propaganda. All perfectly solid notions. But Fake News is just a horrible obfuscation that makes everyone’s media experience worse. If only it had been contained in the US. Now it has spread to other domains. I am starting to see it crop up in local discussions. It used to be that with rich political discussions on public platforms like, say, Twitter, people could vehemently disagree with each other without calling the facts they were disagreeing about into question. Now all one has to do to scuttle a good debate is claim Fake News and watch all the decency drain out of it. Worse yet is what it has done to journalists.
Then Trump started repeating that awful term and now media is under siege all over the world Fake News has the power to convince people that facts and opinions are interchangeable.”
But of all the various kinds of writers there are, for some reason journalists are seen as the worst of the bunch. More times than I care to recall, I have heard people use the term as a pejorative. So, journalism is not an easy work environment, but it was still somewhat decent and grounded.
Things were starting to look up with a liberal media environment.
Then Trump started repeating that awful term, Fake News. And now media is under siege all over the world, and regimes that are disinclined to scrutiny or criticism have a new weapon at their disposal. Fake News has the power to convince people that facts and opinions are interchangeable. And that what you feel is how the world works.
At least before this situation, lies were lies and one could always resort to courts of law over libel. Now everything passess through the court of public opinion and public opinion has lost its respect for factuality. As a consequence journalists are, again, stuck doing thankless work in increasingly dangerous conditions.
Of course I am biased. I love journalism and journalists and suffer from a terribly romantic view of the media. But beneath that is a genuine appreciation for the format. How boring, provincial and narrow would life be without our media people? How many times have investigative journalists saved us from the worst of ourselves?
It is not called the Fourth Estate for nothing. And that is what this Fake News disease is attacking. The part of me that is reconciled to nuclear winter and no longer fears Trump. But the part of me that loves journalism will forever despise him for that Fake News disease he has visited upon us. Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Repor. E-mail: email@example.com