Fake News Wasn’t the Biggest Media Problem of 2016

Featured Video Play Icon

How mainstream media created a sense of a false equivalence of two comparably inadequate candidates in the US presidential election.

The phenomenon of fake news has been all over the media following the 2016 US presidential election. A lot of time has been spent debating whether stories like Pizzagate—a conspiracy theory that put a family-run pizza parlor in Washington, DC at the heart of a pedophilia ring connected to Hillary Clinton, which eventually resulted in a shooter trying to liberate the children he believed were held on the premises—had an effect on the election results.

Born in the not-so-dark corners of the internet, many run by teenagers out of Macedonia, conspiratorial fake news sites have taken on the well-established tradition of misinformation, be it for entertainment or malice. Remember that story from 1993 that Hillary Clinton found and adopted a baby alien? Yes, seriously.

Being on the losing side, Democrats have been quick to blame the spread of fake news through social media for Hillary’s loss. Yet the real problem goes deeper than that. The kinds of things that really hurt Clinton’s campaign were real stories. With network TV news devoting more time to covering Clinton’s email scandal than all her policy issues combined, mainstream media managed to create a sense of a false equivalence of two comparably inadequate candidates.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: flyparade

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money. Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.