Yes, you read that right. Politicians created the fake news culture and they did so, because they made fake news publicly acceptable when they embraced the concept of spin.
There is a vicious circle at work where the problem has become as bad as it has because on one side of the argument the political classes speak out vociferously about the dangers of fake news and the negative impact that it is having on democracy. Yet on the other, the very same politicians continue to create stories and narratives to increase or improve their own electability that does precisely the same thing,
What this all overlooks is the two edge sword that is the failure of education to teach young people critical thinking skills so that adults can discern between what they should trust, what they shouldn’t and where they should attribute value in between, and the other, where the distinct lack of public figures who speak openly, honestly and treat everyone as if they are all adults in the same room leaves the whole population without the leadership role models that demonstrate what right looks like in a world which is telling us so much is now so wrong.
Plans and efforts to force social media outlets and companies to crack down on fake news sound like very laudable goals. But in reality, there is very little out there that should or rather would need to be banned or removed from circulation, if politicians weren’t making it impossible for people to trust what they should be able to trust in the first place.
The debate or issue doesn’t end there, because mainstream news production and output is now so predominantly based on opinion rather than basic news itself.
Whilst it makes uncomfortable reading, the reality is that opinion and fake news are pretty much the very same thing.
Regrettably what began as an institutional problem within politics crossed to the mainstream media and then social media too.
It is now a cultural malaise and the attempts to wrest the problem at the feet of social media companies does little more than make light of the depth of the problem that now exists and what steps really need to be taken if the so-called war on fake news is actually to be won.
What is sure is that tackling the fake news problem wont be achieved by simply shutting down narratives which make politicians uncomfortable – usually because they simply put their own roles and situations at risk.
It would simply be hypocrisy to do so.
It basically says that fake news is fine as a propaganda tool to influence the electorate – so long as the fake news in question is based on a narrative that we and only we actually own.
This isn’t to say that nothing should be done about fake news being spread about and treated with the same value as truth.
It most definitely should. But the real question is about how this is actually done.
The best place to start would be for Politicians to simply start being open and telling the truth and for the media in general to start reporting news as news rather than what is little more than the personal opinion of reporters and journalists as fact.