After the 2016 election, the New York Times published an article on the front cover which served as an admission of having engaged in poor, heavily biased, and badly substantiated stories.
In the months leading up to the election, poll after poll, survey after survey, and expert on top of expert all claimed that Donald trump would never be president. They claimed there was no historical precedent for a Trump victory, (never mind Andrew Jackson, Abe Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan- all of whom have strong similarities to Trump).
They told us that Hilary was so unbelievably popular that Trump and his supporters might as well hang it up, go home and watch sports.
After the election, the mainstream media went on the attack. They said the electoral colleges had been infiltrated by republican activists. They said Russia hacked the DNC and rigged the election- proving their willingness to risk nuclear war. They even published a wholly unsubstantiated story about Trump soliciting the services of a prostitute to perform acts not worth repeating.
In late November CNN, MSNBC, and most of the entire main stream media (MSM) establishment seemingly in lock step started reporting on what they called “fake news.”
Fake news, they said, was a major problem- that it had gotten a foothold on social media and had shifted the narrative so powerfully that it actually skewed the election. This is a bold claim in light of the fact that so much of what the MSM has published has been verifiably false. On these claims, the MSM, Google, and major social media sites such as Facebook began censoring conservative websites in the name of defending the public against fake news.
Since then, the buzzword has been turned against the likes of CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. The public trust for the mainstream media is lower than ever before. A recent Gallup poll reports that just 32 percent of Americans believe MSM news organizations can be trusted to report well researched, and unbiased stories. That number is down from 40 percent in 2015.
Despite all the claims newscasters have made about so-called fake news, there were no studies conducted on the subject until now- and the mainstream media is probably not going to report on it very heavily.
A recent study conducted at Stanford University concludes that what the MSM calls fake news did not affect the election results. Stanford News reports this story with their expected liberal bias- but even so doing- they still admit that Donald Trump’s victory was not based on the sharing of bad reporting on social media.
An opening paragraph of the report reads; “ […] there’s concrete data proposing that false news stories may not have been as persuasive and influential as is often suggested. But the economists behind the research do not conclude one way or the other whether fake news swayed the election.”
The authors of the study, Stanford economists, Matthew Gentzkow and Hunt Allcott wrote, “based on our set of facts, that it is unlikely that fake news swayed the election.”
Part of their conclusion is that activity on social media was important to the election results, but that it was not an overwhelmingly influential factor. But there are some problems with the study. In addition to relying on a survey of just 1,200 individuals, it also relied on reports by verifiably biased and unprofessional sites such as Snopes, (a known CIA funded propaganda operation), Politifact, (an unabashedly leftist organization) and worst of all- Buzzfeed, a click-bait driven tabloid entertainment website which was responsible for the Trump prostitution story which was famously proven to be false.
According to Gentzkow and Allcott, the reason so-called fake news could not have skewed the election is because a majority of voters still go to televised news to inform their political views. This is in direct conflict with the study which claims that just 32 percent of Americans still trust the mainstream media.
But of course, the Stanford study is overly concerned with the consumption of “fake news” accessed through social media and does not include participants who read conservative content online by searching it directly.
What’s interesting about the story is it still suggests that Trump voters are uninformed, even though fake news did not have a significant effect, and it fails to hold the MSM to account for their many stories which have been proven to be in fact, fake news- or as the president would put it, ‘very fake news.’
~ Liberty Planet