2016 has been a banner year for abject insanity, and it only fits that fake news has seen its renaissance. We, like all great thinkers, were consistently stooged, so here are our favourites from this year.
The moral panic surrounding fake news has been building steadily to its current crescendo. The particularly American flavour of “fake news” is its tendency toward “red-baiting” McCarthyism. Anyone who today critiques assertions espoused by the mainstream press in the United States can be accused as a Russia sympathiser, anti-American or a Putin-puppet. I recall seeing lots of baseless articles swirling around the 2016 election ether. The “spirit-cooking” episode with John Podesta was particularly of note. However, the claim that Clinton had a 98.2% chance of winning the presidency was peak fake news. Having immersed myself deeply in the seamy underbelly of activist Twitter during the campaign, I was struck mainly by the comic aspect of the creation and distribution of obviously false news stories (online its called meme-magic: the art of turning memes into reality). I watched as some strange “coded” language in Wikileaks emails between the Clinton campaign chair and his brother stimulated a hashtag that motivated more “keyboard warriors” to go digging for “evidence” to back up claims of a wide-ranging establishment pedophilia ring now dubbed “#Pizzagate”.
Somehow all of this marginal, conspiratorial, tin-foil-hat wearing nonsense made it into the mainstream. It appears that Trump may have trolled his way to the Whitehouse. The mainstream media gave a platform to Richard Spencer of “alt-Right” notoriety, growing his YouTube channel and Twitter accounts by an order of magnitude. They now continue to feed the trolls by engaging in a puerile “media autopsy” to see what is fake and what is not. Google and Facebook have already agreed to try and screen out fake news, the Senate last week passed a bill that empowers Congress to suppress anti-American news and promote information that is in America’s national interest (its passage was doubtlessly made easier in the climate of Russian-influence-fake-news-hysteria). This should all feel eerily familiar to any students of history…
Hi, my name is Mathew and I have fallen victim to the dreaded fake news malaria but my transgression was more out of hope than anything else. As Trumpzilla started trampling downtown Tokyo, we collectively opined for a hero. That hero turned out to be übermensch and general non-celeb/celeb Bill Murray for his bold decision to run against the Donald. As the overnight news whores crept into action, in morning light we were all catfished, as the site who broke the news was outed as a no-frills version no longer wearing the dress of a reputable news outlet. As for me, I reached copulation with the tidbit, discovered my error and washed myself clean via the cold shower of the self-effacing article replete with lazy pun title:
In retrospect, as it happened in the morning of 2016, it now seems an almost lighthearted “oh you scamp” attempt at duping us. It surely didn’t result in people in the group fridge at the mortuary. Come back, blind January optimism, we miss you.
I believed this, because it seemed to fit the landscape of insanity and because “oh, of course”. As reported by YourNewsWire, the story went on to explain how Hillary Clinton threatened Bernie’s wife, Jane. Awesomely, the source was one Vladimir Putin, who presumably has moved on from geopolitics to class-A goss. The article also zipped to the fantastic tableau of Vlad’s 2am Kremlin mornings, spent trolling through the infamous 10,000 emails because that’s what Putin does.
Direct quote: “Senior staff in the Kremlin have been allowed to see the emails, however Putin alone has access to them and keeps them on his personal laptop, under lock and key. He has been heard staying up until 2am, reading their contents out loud, roaring with laughter,” which sounds vaguely John le Carré-ish. Vlad would make an excellent Karla if they ever re-re-remade Tinker Tailor.
What isn’t funny is that it gained a pissing 66,000 hits on Facebook, whereas the rest of us slowly rot away. Long live fake news.
Mine involved onetime wrastlin’ foe of the Donald, Vince McMahon (the WWE billionaire and spectacular nutcase) who was apparently set to be Trump’s running-mate. For my money, the team was sound. It’d be an easy transition, as the storylines of WWE run parallel to the policies of Trump. Be it selling off his own daughter to cut his son out of the company, drugging his wife so he can hook up with all the women in his employ, or sacking everyone in a loud voice, it seemed a perfect match. A match which was satire manifest, as it also appeared in the Betoota Advocate.
Sadly, much like the sport that Vince owns, it an artistic fake and we can only dream. But having witnessed their fever-dream of a clash on WWE I’m left with “what if”, which, for those who missed it, involved Trumpeted (lol) business dealings and the loser getting his head shaved. The mind could only wonder what they’d accomplish if they put their heads together.
Simple, but enduringly wonderful. Nancy, the spouse of Trump’s bedroom pin-up Ronald Reagan, apparently uttered the words, on her death bed no less, “Do not vote for Donald Trump.”
Best quote in the piece is clearly: “I wouldn’t say Donald Trump caused her to pass, because that’s up to the Lord, but he certainly didn’t help any. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and hearing up there. She would just look over to me and shake her head.”
Remember, it’s not fake if you believe it to be true. Also, worthy to mention, the Trump University was set to bestow Sarah Palin with an honorary degree – in climate science. Trolololol.