I’ve talked about the fake news phenomenon on the left quite a bit. Websites like Occupy Democrats and the hundreds of copycat pages that regurgitate and spin news stories are indeed a plague, but they have equal competition on the far-right, which flourished during the Obama administration.
Leading up to the 2016 election, traffic to sites like Breitbart and Infowars boomed in anticipation of Hillary Clinton becoming our next president. These pages promoted conspiracy theories and promoted Islamophobia, when they weren’t trashing liberals and stoking fears against the LGBT community.
Now that Trump is currently occupying the White House, conservative fake news has moved on to protecting The Donald at any cost, even when it means pretending he didn’t say what he clearly said. If it wasn’t scary, it would be absolutely comical.
As bad as liberal fake news is, we aren’t seeing a rash of attacks on conservatives because of it. On the other side, there is a plague of hate-filled attacks on liberals, minorities and immigrants that has exploded since Trump announced he was running for president. This has been a problem since 9/11, but it has taken an even uglier turn in recent years.
Social media has made the fake news problem far worse than the days when you had to tune into Rush Limbaugh or pick up the latest conspiracy newsletter from your mailbox. Fox News is indeed horrible, but it pales in comparison to the far-right sites that have become a haven for white nationalists and bigots who find Fox to be too liberal for their tastes.
They want to hear that Muslims, and not white terrorists, are the greatest enemy our country faces. These people want believe that minorities and immigrants are the reason their blue-collar jobs have gone away, instead of global trade and technology. They need to believe that voting for the same politicians who have destroyed rural America will undo the very same problem, and that any liberal who tries to help them must be gunned down or voted out.
In case you didn’t already realize it, the fake news phenomenon is extremely profitable, and people around the globe have launched thousands of websites to cash in on it. In every Facebook group I belong to, spammers try to post links to their sites with stories that are designed to make ad revenue, regardless of if there is any truth to the claims.
Even though nobody was killed because of the fake news Pizzagate story, it did inspire a man to drive to Washington, DC with an assault rifle because he bought into it. Conservative media is not trying to calm their followers down, instead they’re only trying to further inflame them because anger drives traffic and ad revenue.
I wish I could tell you that there was a solution for this, but I can’t think of anything. There is the organization Sleeping Giants which is trying to cut off advertising to Breitbart. Unfortunately, even if Breitbart closes down tomorrow, there will be thousands of competitors trying to take their place.
I haven’t felt this hopeless in my entire life. All I can do is clean my guns and plan to protect my neighbors.