[1/10/17] When Jim DeMint wanted to dis a TV interviewer’s suggestion that Obamacare has merits as well as flaws, the former senator and tea partyer used a handy putdown: “You can put all that under the category of fake news.”
When conspiracy theorist Alex Jones wanted to deny a CNN report that Ivanka Trump would take over the East Wing offices traditionally occupied by the first lady, he used the same label.
And when a writer for an arch-conservative website needed a putdown for ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, he reached for the obvious: “fake-news propagandist.”
Fake news has a real meaning — deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public. For example: The one falsely claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, or the one alleging without basis that Hillary Clinton would be indicted just before the election.
But though the term hasn’t been around long, its meaning already is lost. Faster than you could say “Pizzagate,” the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear.