We’re still only halfway through 2017 but “fake news” might be the most overused term of the year. It originally applied, appropriately, to the growing number of fictitious articles on websites posing as media outlets, written with the deliberate intent of misleading people. That was either as simple click bait or, more maliciously, to influence readers, perhaps even how they voted in an election. But now the term is thrown around regularly to apply to any article, even legitimate news coverage, that someone simply doesn’t like.
It’s fascinating to see how, whether strategically or by accident, Donald Trump has co-opted the term and applied it to the mainstream media. He and his supporters now regularly use it to describe journalists and commentators who are simply reporting on or even expressing an opinion about politics.
Unfortunately that not only threatens fair comment, it diminishes public debate and dialogue. And it steers attention away from the original, legitimate problem. Like everything else in America today, fake news has been sucked into the partisan vortex.