Monday, June 19, 2017

Does Fake News Make a Difference in Politics?

Of course it matters, especially since virtually the entire mainstream media establishment is pitching fake news 24/7.

As noted, I stopped watching any television news last semester, and just have now starting inching back toward any kind of regular viewing. I simply do not trust reporters and traditional outlets to report fairly or accurately. It's just a given now, and of course it influences politics. We're living in two virtual countries with two virtual realities. And it takes a lot of power to shift those realities and make a new narrative strong enough to shift votes. That's why leftists hate President Trump. He beat the fake news industry and still does it everyday by getting his message out on Twitter and through his campaign-style rallies, God bless him.

But see MercatorNet, "Does fake news make a difference in politics? Or is the term just sour grapes from journalists and politicians who misread the electorate?":
As noted in the previous article, most people learn to adjust for fake news in a medium with which they are familiar. Otherwise, tabloids would hardly be shelved at the checkout counter, as they have been for decades. But many are now convinced that fake news put out on social media helped tip the US to Trump. Post-election, Hillary Clinton decried the epidemic of fake news, as did outgoing President Obama.

The air has been thick with statistics on both sides, with conservatives and the far right usually fingered as the culprits. Actually, fake news was purveyed on both sides. Ben Carson did not, for example, say that the ghosts of aborted babies haunt hospitals. Mainstream media sometimes publish fake news too. The Burlington Electric Company’s grid was not hacked by Russia, as the Washington Post recently claimed. Apparently, the Post staffers had not followed the conventional rule of phoning the facility to check before running the story. But did it make much difference anyway?

As it happens, claims for social media’s awesome power aren’t new to the 2016 election. Similarly dramatic claims were made after the 2008 election. Back then the outcome was welcomed by the proponents of the social media power, so we were unlikely to hear much about the perils of fake news.

Indeed, as “astroturf” investigator Sharyl Atkisson observes,  before mid-September 2016, fake news was hardly mentioned. Concern arose among Clinton allies thereafter via progressive site Media Matters and caught on widely from there in traditional media.

Either something happened rather suddenly to social media or there are more conventional explanations for Clinton’s loss. Let’s look at some of the latter:

It wasn’t fake news that made the difference; it was missed news. First, Trump was not the Republican party’s choice of candidate. He was propelled by a base that felt ignored—and ridiculed—by both parties. Sociologist Charles Murray describes that base quite clearly in Coming Apart (2012): They are the working class communities ("Fishtown," in his narrative) quietly disintegrating amid global societal changes. Meanwhile, middle class communities ("Belmont," in his narrative) are thriving, indifferent or even censorious, a few kilometres away.*

The Democrats did not have a Trump. Their candidate was a party establishment figure with massive intelligentsia and media backing. Among those who felt that their concerns would never be heard in those venues, that was her handicap. It’s a good question why Trump was one of the few public figures to grasp the significance of the demographic shift and exploit it. But little will be learned about that from an intense examinations of fake news. Newly recruited Trump voters were motivated by actual bad news in their own communities.

The hole created by the missed news  was widened by the Democrats’ heavy reliance on millennial social media experts to connect with voters. Kay Hymowitz explains at City Journal:
In the past few years, their influence has only grown, as mass-market fashion magazines like Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire have given them column space, effectively crowning them the new elite experts on women’s issues.

They weren’t. They had heads full of academic theory and millennial angst but little life experience with—and virtually no interest in—military wives from South Carolina or Walmart managers from Staten Island, who also happen to fall into the category “women.” Nor did the new luminaries or their bosses seem to notice that the latter group far outnumbered their own rarefied crowd.
The internet changes a great deal but it does not change the fundamental nature of reality. One small Atlanta-based pollster sensed that the military wife or the WalMart manager might not wish to risk humiliation, even in the abstract, by giving an honest opinion. So he asked his respondents who they thought their neighbors would vote for. He called the big contest right while major polling firms got it embarrassingly wrong.

Both sides in the election were out of touch...
Keep reading.

Hat Tip: Blazing Cat Fur, "New York Times Sent Three Reporters to the Rebel Media’s Live 2017 Celebration."