Let’s be clear about the chain of events here. A year ago, “fake news” had a pretty specific meaning: clickbait sites that publish hoaxes. The hoax of the hour might be political, but it could as easily be a fraudulent report of a celebrity death or a weird-news story that’s too good to be true. Over time the term was also applied to aggregation sites that don’t specialize in hoaxes so much as they simply don’t care whether the stories they’re promoting are hoaxes. Not exactly the same thing, but you still had that basic model of a click-driven indifference to truth.
But when the opinion-spouting class grabbed the phrase en masse right after the election, they used it much more broadly. Once you’ve started slapping thefake newslabel on anything that looks like sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the alternative press, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that people will start flinging it when they think they’ve spotted sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the mainstream….
–Jesse Walker, Let’s Be Clear About Who Drained the Meaning from the PhraseFake News
Reason.com, Jan. 9, 2017