Fake News

Dissecting 'Fake News'

From Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, conspiracy theorizing to political lying, Matt Welch answers questions about the media's latest fad


So what is all this "fake news" talk about anyway? That's what they wanted to ask me Thursday on KABC 790 AM's Dr. Drew Midday Live program. I'm on the first 20 or so minutes right here:

Later that day, vanquished presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued her awful if predictable call for Congress to act "quickly" on the fake news "epidemic," which became (along with assessing the true scope/importance of the Alt Right) a main topic of discussion that night on The Fifth Column. You can listen to the whole podcast, with guests Jimmy Failla and Jacob Siegel, below:

I also talked about the Hillary Clinton angle more on The Blaze Radio's Buck Sexton Show, which you can listen to at this link:

Reason on "fake news" here.

NEXT: Chicago Cop Involved in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man Could've Been Fired Years Ago

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  1. That was a pretty decent episode of T5C. BUT WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET ENB ON?

    1. The last time they asked she called them nerds and gave Welch a swirly.

  2. I’m sort of sad. The Scary Clown epidemic died off way too quickly. That was just a lot more fun than Fake News and Russia hacking our election.

    1. It’s all the same story.

      1. Scary Clowns were not fake news. You take that back.

        1. No, I’m saying that the clowns were part of a Russian plot to get Trump elected.

          1. You’re a master at decoding 5D chess moves!

    2. What? The “hacking” thing is great.

    3. But how about those clowns up on Capitol Hill?

      1. Well thats why they stopped getting spotted in the rest of the country, duh.

    4. Scary clowns got the presidential nomination for both major parties, dude.

  3. “Fake News” is anything that might make people not vote for Hillary Clinton.


    1. News for the deplorables

      1. The “deplorables” flap was itself fake news. Hillary didn’t mean to call a quarter of the voting public uneducable, irredeemable retrogrades, she only meant that they need a helping hand from Democrats to rescue them from their pathetic, benighted state.

        1. If only they ran the public schools

          1. She was talking about the people educated by non-union teachers, of course.

    2. Weird, most of the fake news I’ve read this year came from the so-called MSM.
      Aren’t you afraid of those dastardly Russians yet?

      1. Just don’t get in a plane flying over Ukraine and you should be ok.

        1. Isn’t that just for planes coming from Israel and Amsterdam?

  4. Here is fake news:

    “Dan Rather on fake news, the power of truth, and our bright future”
    This is featured in the Chron, which prevaricates that Rather left the network “under a cloud” because his fake story ‘couldn’t be independently verified’.
    So we have a lefty rag *inventing* fake news about a guy who was canned for *spreading* fake news in an article *decrying* fake news.
    Fake news to the third power.

    1. Oop. Link, but paywalled to me:

      1. “The breadth and depth of fake news suggests that stemming the tide will be no easy task. But, as Rather sees it, any hope of combatting it will require a fearless media, a public steeped in healthy skepticism and a “sense of public service” among the tech companies like Google and Facebook that play an important role in the way news is consumed.”

        Let me translate that. In order to rid us of this fake news scourge, we’re going to need a strong central government with a centralized news agency which decides what real news it. Other sources of news will be ‘strongly’ condemned.

        This sounds sort of familiar…

        1. And that agency will have to make sure the incriminating documents aren’t in a font which wasn’t available when they were supposedly written; Rather has been embarrassed enough already!

      2. What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

        1. It’s the truthiness that counts.

    2. I feel like I’ve read this comment before…

      1. “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”

      2. Why, yes. Yes you have. I hope you enjoyed it both times.

    3. Here’s Dan Rather doing the “real news”.


      1. I’m reminded of the time he walked off the set because a tennis match ran long.

        (Sorry, don’t know if there’s actual video.)

        1. In honor of John Glenn, here he is predicting the direction Democrats have gone over the last 40 years.

          1. Is that the one about Obama selling watermelon?

  5. Duh, that ones easy. Fake News is anything that runs counter to the Progressive Narrative.

  6. There’s Buck Sexton… where’s the pot and Mexicans?

    1. Buck Sexton. I don’t care what anyone says, that is a fake name.

      1. I went to HS with a Sheila Sexton. She was hot.

      2. That name reeks of toxic masculinity, no?

        1. It’s either a porn actor’s name or the name of a character from a pulp romance novel.

  7. Now shut up and sign this change.org petition to make Hillary president.

    1. Oh, sure!

      V-a-s-i-l-i-y P-u-p-k-i-n

      Good luck with your bloodless coup!

    2. Is that the same one you sign to reverse Brexit?

  8. Speaking of “fake news” and/or disinformation, what about the widespread idiocy which perpetuates the belief that nobody with private sector experience is sufficiently pure of heart to be allowed to hold government office?

    Why is billionaire Senator Heinz Ketchup more properly suited to the position of Secretary of State than Rex Tillerson?

    1. C’mon PB, this isnt hard stuff. If you aren’t a raging pinko proggie you aren’t qualified. The same people crying about this would cum in their pants if Soros were up for office.

    2. Because Sec. Ketchup didn’t earn his billions in the private sector, he married them?

    3. T Rex needs to focus more on his upper body.

    4. Yet they get all hot and bothered over Michael Bloomberg, who also had no public service experience before he became NYC mayor.

  9. Later that day, vanquished presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued her awful if predictable call for Congress to act “quickly” on the fake news “epidemic,”…

    They should act quickly on terrible candidates whose turn it is, and also maybe get on shoring up the term “inevitable”.

  10. I love how these memes from the left get turned around and used against them. Who is the stupid party now?

    1. To be fair, it has worked for them for the greater part of 100 years. It’ll take a few election cycles before they realize that everybody is onto them.

      1. Yeah, they are the dunce at the party that doesnt realize everyone is laughing at them and not at their jokes.

  11. http://www.newyorker.com/magaz…..-amendment

    Here is some fake news. The Gawker verdict is not a threat to free speech or the free media. No one ever said Gawker couldn’t report on the contents of the tape. The case revolved around the issue of whether they could put the tape on their website. And even that would not have been an issue had the tape not been stolen.

    The Gawker judgement stands for the proposition that media outlets cannot put stolen sextapes on their websites over the objection of the people in them. Yeah that is a real threat to the free press.

    1. And Toobin’s horror stories are very revealing.

      The clearest winner in the Hogan case has been Charles Harder, who has become the de-facto general counsel for the Trump backlash against the press. On behalf of Melania Trump, Harder filed a libel suit in Maryland against the American Web site of London’s Daily Mail, which reported that she had once worked as an escort. (The Mail withdrew the story, but the case is still pending.) Again on behalf of Melania Trump, Harder demanded the withdrawal of a YouTube video asserting that her son Barron Trump was autistic. (The creator took down the video and apologized.)

      Toobin apparently thinks it is okay for newspapers to call innocent people whores and Autistic. The horror!!

      1. If Charles Harder ever has a son, I sincerely hope he names him Richard…

        1. I don’t want to live in a world where that doesn’t happen.

    2. Ask the same people who think like Toobin if they think it should be legal for men to publish ‘revenge porn’ of women and see how fast their heads spin around.

    3. Gawker basically did the same thing as News of the World. But News of the World were terrible because Murdoch, while Gawker are right-thinking, so it’s horrible to go after them.

  12. Can we ascribe our current wave of raging hate for the Russians as some sort of nostalgia for the Good Old Days of the Cold War, when we had a clearly delineated enemy who never really attacked us?

    It was a simpler time.

    1. No, they attacked – and the poison barb they used is the reason our universities want “safe spaces”. Too bad for the soviets the long game took too long for them to exploit it.

      1. I think you are mistaken UnCivil. That horseshit comes from germany. Look up the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research. It’s just Marxism, plain and simple.

        With a time machine everyone goes back and tries to kill Hitler? Not me. Marx. He has done far more damage than Hitler could dream of.

        1. The ideas might be Marx, but as I understand it, the Soviets were propping up the groups that spread them with the goal of corrupting the US from within.

          And yes, I second the wish that we could retcon Marx and his toxic influence out of history.

          But then I wonder about whether that would change my existance (due to the cascade influence on events past then).

        2. Marx? HA! He didn’t even finish writing the books Engels commissioned him to write, and he still got lifetime private welfare and a hippie lifestyle to the grave!

          Engels, now that is the one to bump off. Maybe Marx children would have survived too.

    2. If we let the Russians get away with this, what happens when the Klingons arrive?

      1. If we let the Russians get away with this, they will do it again and continue to do it such that we will know they are responsible every time a Progressive doesn’t win an election.

    3. Russia is a ‘white’ (because we’re apparently past the days of distinctions like Slav, Anglo-Saxon, etc.), somewhat pro-Christian (Orthodoxy is making a major comeback as a cultural identifier) nationalist state with anti-homosexual laws on the books. It fits perfectly as a foreign ‘other’ in the left-wing mindset: Caucasian, therefore not racist to criticize, Christian, therefore not Islamophobic, nationalist, therefore fascist, and targets a sexual minority that they desperately want on their side. A country like say, Saudi Arabia can’t be demonized to the same extent because they’re an intersectionality landmine. So they can execute homosexuals but Putin is the next Hitler that’s going to put the gays in camps.

  13. Found the resident libertarian at DefenseOne

    Abigail Hall-Blanco is ?an affiliated scholar with the Mercatus Center

    Oh, a Veronique disciple no-doubt.

    1. Judging from her article on Afghanistan, she seems a lot brighter than Veronique.

    2. Legalize drugs, bah! No wonder no one takes you libertarians seriously. Drugs have been illegal since the dawn of civilization and now you libertarians want to go on this grand experiment and don’t care what will happen to the children when pushers are set loose on our playgrounds! You may as well just repeal government run healthcare!

  14. Well here’s an example.

    I’m in the habit of watching C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” every morning, primarily because I like the viewer-interactive live format. Unfortunately that means that anyone with nutty conspiracy theories can call in and get themselves heard.

    Shortly before the election, one woman called in claiming that Hillary Clinton is in the habit of travelling to a secret place in the Caribbean called “Pedophile Island,” specifically for the purpose of having sex with children. Not only that, but she went on a private aircraft called the “Lolita Express.” The caller said she had learned about this on the internet, so naturally it had to be true.

    Since I like to do my own fact-checking, I investigated this claim. As it turns out, the Clintons have on occasion vacationed on a private island owned by Jeffrey Epstein, a longtime friend of theirs. The island is near the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, for which he served 13 months in prison. And for that, his private island is now referred to, variously, as “Pedophile Island,” “Orgy Island,” and “Sex Slave Island” in the sleazier corners of the internet.

    Of course, if you provide the followers of such fake news outlets with the backstory suggest that Hillary Clinton is NOT a pedophile, they simply respond, “How do YOU know? Do you have PROOF that she isn’t a child molester???”

    And this is what amounts to political discourse in the post-truth age.

    1. I think the pedo island thing was due to the underaged girls alleging they were kept on the island and made to service the likes of Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.

    2. I don’t think that is quite accurate.


    The headline linking to a story about Bezos meeting with Trump currently on Drudge. Matt Drudge is the most entertaining troll ever.

    1. Jeff Bezos to the Dark Tower Came,
      His word was still, ?Fie, foh, and fum,
      I smell the blood of a British man?

  16. So what is all this “fake news” talk about anyway?

    An attempt by the Mainstream Media to try and salvage some last scrap of the credibility they flushed down the toilet in 2016…

    ….by throwing shit at everyone else as being “even less credible”.

    I don’t think its the brightest strategy. You’d think that maybe “dialing down the partisan horseshit” would be smarter. But no.

    When I say “Mainstream Media” – i mean WaPo, NYT, CNN, HuffPo, and the major broadcast networks. They all showed their ass during this election.

    Now they’re looking in the mirror, and instead of accepting their own fall from grace, they’re simply trying to lower the bar by making everyone else look ‘worse than them’.

    1. Was there a bigger “fake news” story in 2016 than “Hillary is certain to win”?

      1. That the FBI had “Found her innocent”?

        1. That is a good one.

      2. That “Racism” is the #1 reason all the ‘White Working Class’ (that previously voted for Obama) voted for a white man instead of a white woman (*who helped put millions of young black men in jail in the 1990s)?

        1. Or that racism is the only reason anyone would object to the EPA screwing over industry. Apparently only white people work in factories.

          1. Well yeah, if certain corners of the innertoobz are to be believed, we mudbloods are too genetically simple to figure out how to pick up a tool and use it on an assembly line.

      3. That we should ignore all the media-collusion w/ the DNC to undermine Bernie during the primaries, because something something “Russians!”

      4. Was there a bigger “fake news” story in 2016 than “Hillary is certain to win”?

        That’s not what I would call fake news. That’s opinion and/or sloppy and incompetent polling.

        Fake news is the Russians hacking the DNC – which they apparently did by phishing John Podesta. The only guy who knows for sure, Julian Assange, says it wasn’t the Ruskies. And if Podesta is that stupid, then they deserve it.

        And, of course, Assange only exposed the truth. Or, as it’s known, Pravda.

  17. I was thinking earlier (very dangerous), and I realized that as much as the MSM’s credibility is totally shot, they’re still in control as long as they can drive the agenda. With social media and independent journalism, the agenda isn’t as tightly locked down by the MSM as it used to be, but they’re still the primary driver of what makes the news. Until there are a substantial number of independent news outlets that spend more time reporting on issues they care about than on what one weird thing a CNN bloviator said that YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE!!!!111!!!!, the MSM keeps control of the single most important thing, the agenda.

    Why is the agenda so important? Because studies have shown that media is less able to tell you what to believe and more able to tell you what is important to you.

    To use the parlance of the included link, my theory is that the MSM has shifted from agenda-setting to agenda-building due to social media and independent news outlets. However, they still retain control over the agenda in this new role.

    1. That is part of what is behind the “fake news” jihad. What is “fake news” other than any news that doesn’t come from or agree with the MSM?

      1. Fabricated or misleading “news” is a real phenomenon. I don’t think it’s very significant, but there is some little nugget of reality behind the whole thing. As I suggest below, I think a lot of it is made up by people on the left in an attempt to show how those bad right-wingers will believe anything (with varying success).

        But I think you are right about the reason why so much of the media has jumped on the “fake news” bandwagon. They see a chance to try to rebuild themselves as the “real” news sources. And I don’t think it’s going to work out so well. Too many people already know that they are full of shit.

        1. “Fake news” whatever that is I suppose is a problem. But it is only a problem because lying is a problem. I don’t think you are ever going to stop people from lying. What you can do, however, is claim that we need to stop lies and use that as an excuse to shut down anyone who saying something you don’t like, true or not.

          1. But it is only a problem because lying is a problem.

            Which is why this going to end poorly for the legacy media. They’re really good at stretching a source to a point where it feels like they’re lying, but they’re “technically” “not” lying. If the outrage they’re trying to gin up actually manifests, it’s gonna bite them right on the ass. Just wait until people start critiquing their coverage of scientific (and social “science”) studies.

            1. Or the coverage of the law or economics or any subject that requires some technical knowledge as opposed to just repeating each side of a political battle’s talking points.

              1. My mother in law is absorbed into the MSM news cycle. She’s very impressionable by what she sees on the news. However, she read a poorly written, but widely distributed article on a study done on something in her technical wheelhouse and was just incensed by it. She has been much more skeptical of the news since I responded to her with “you can see through the journalist’s lie because this is what you do for a living, but you can see the consequences of the lie on the people who don’t have the expertise you do. How many other articles like this do you think are being published that you just don’t have the expertise to debunk?”

                1. The Gell-Mann effect.

                  1. I knew there was some name for that, but didn’t have it off the top of my head. Thanks Zeb!

          2. Yes, I agree. It’s not much of a problem and it’s a problem that isn’t going away because people always make shit up and lie.

  18. The really odd thing is that it seems like people are just noticing that the Internet is full of made up bullshit. I thought we’d known that for ages.

    And how much of this supposed “fake news” is shit made up by leftists trying to troll right-wingers?

    1. A few years ago there was a really funny commercial for an insurance company where this attractive woman goes off on a date with this total goofy looking troll of a guy on the assumption he was a French high fashion model and that must be true because it was on the internet and everyone knows if it says so on the internet it is true.

      It was a funny commercial and a joke everyone got because everyone has always known that the internet is full of bullshit. That is until the evil Russians hypnotized America into voting for Trump or something.

      1. They are really just grabbing at straws, I think. If the “racist alt-right takeover” won’t stick, let’s try Russian Hackers or fake news. Anything to avoid admitting that their candidate sucked or that people don’t want what they are selling.

  19. FALSE NEWS = The radio host got Matt’s new job-title wrong. “editor in chief”?? smdh

    I think matt gets the point exactly right in the opener of the thing – that the “fake news” thing is really about the media’s own personal crisis of identity. Journalists want to spin a new narrative that excuses them for their own bullshit

    1. Isn’t that his old title?

      I can’t even remember what it is now.

      Someone needs to update his Wikipedia page.

      1. Isn’t that his old title?

        Yes. He’s “Editor At Large” now. Which i think means, “He goes on TV and does podcasts and gets to be the Pretty Face of Reason magazine”, while KMW does the thankless task of actually running a magazine.

        1. Sounds like it. He does seem to be doing more writing too, which is nice.

  20. Another good point by matt = that the media’s obsession with “Fact Checking” these days is simply to re-assert their own Authority on determining what is a ‘fact’ and what is not.

    They are terrified they’re losing their grip over the American public. WE ARE THE ONE TRUE MEDIA-GOD!! ALL OTHERS ARE FALSE PROPHETS

  21. “Hillary’s e-mails are a giant nothingburger!” is fake news.

  22. Ugh, I have 1 final exam left until I’m finally done with law school, and I have no will to start it (it’s a take home exam)!

    1. I hated take homes.

    2. Cocaine is a hell of a drug. Just… Finish before your attention span vanishes.

      1. In undergrad, I would get pretty drunk before doing the soulcrushing schoolwork that I couldn’t force myself to do sober. Turns out that lowering inhibitions can be a good thing… oh, and the Ballmer peak is real.

    3. Then after that it’s the bar, yes? Have you already taken the new Patent Bar?

      1. Yup, passed the patent bar in late August and got my reg number in October. I just submitted my app to the VA state bar last Saturday, so I’ll be taking it in Feb. I have a prep course lined up, and will start working through it next week.

        For the first time in nearly 4 years, I’ll only have one thing going on at a time, so I’ll have 2 months to devote solely to the bar exam. It should be the last career hurdle before I start work in March. Now I’m just hoping that my house sale goes through (should know with a fair amount of certainty on Wednesday) and that nothing weird comes up with the house we’re buying in VA. The biggest thing we have to solve right now is what to do for health insurance between January (when my school’s insurance ends) and March (when my job starts). With my wife being pregnant, dumping her on Medicaid, like Healtcare.gov wants to do, isn’t an option. We don’t need to be switching doctors 3x during the pregnancy.

        1. Can’t school extend coverage for 3 months via COBRA, or did Obamacare slay that too?

          1. I’m not sure, I’m emailing with them to figure out what exactly is available. I haven’t received COBRA notices when I previously switched off the school plan, so I’m not exactly optimistic.

        2. How was the new Patent Bar exam? Did you go to a common proctored exam? If so, did you talk to any non-law students that were testing to become Patent Agents?

          1. I did a computerized one at a testing center, so I was the only one taking it. I’ve met a few non-law students who are patent agents outside of that context, but there were none at the testing center.

            It was much more biased toward AIA material than the practice exams I did were. It still had some older material on it, but the older stuff was maybe 10 or 15% of the exam. I used PLI, and I felt decently prepared. It’s a slog of an exam, but PLI had a good feel for the format of the exam questions. I worked through about 1/2 of their video tutorials and spent the rest of the time using their exam software to do practice tests. There are enough repeats that I had seen 5 or 6 of the questions before, and there were 4 or 5 that were the same exact question as one I had seen, but with different dates. Looking back, I would spend as much time as possible getting familiar with the layout of the MPEP and what chapter has what sorts of info. You have enough time to look everything up… if you get it right the first time.

    4. I didn’t know Bo still posted here. :-p

      1. haha! You’ll know for sure when I’m still posting here talking about being in law school 6 months from now.

  23. Yes, the 25,000 word think-piece on why there aren’t enough transgendered albanians in the latest box office action movie is a problem with modern journalism. It’s not just shaking your cane for a better time.

  24. re: 5th column

    not recognizing the biggie smalls reference

    1. They should all be sentenced to watch either six straight hours of Yo! MTV Raps, or an entire episode of 106 & Park.

  25. BTW, excellent 5th. And it ran long but I never got bored.

    1. And this Jimmy Failla guy is funny. As hell.

  26. 5th Column =

    There was some discussion of the “fake narrative of an explosion in hate crimes” in the beginning of the podcast.

    I was browsing Jakes’ twitter and found this

    Jacob Siegel Verified account

    Hate crimes up 31% in NYC this year w/ spike during election week. Mostly targeting Muslims and sexual orientation.

    He didn’t really chime in to say, “no seriously it was valid”; or to even suggest that there was any local-validity.

  27. Jimmy’s description of Jake’s voice as “Staten Island Housewife” was epic

    1. Truth. He was very funny. “On a scale of one to Matt Welch” should become a Hit and Run meme.

    2. Yes. I’d never heard of Jimmy before this. He was sharp in this podcast.

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