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Dialectico-Political Semantic Drift (or: I Learned It From YOU, Dad…)

Shared Article from Reason.com

Let's Be Clear About Who Drained the Meaning from the Phrase 'Fa…

Don't scapegoat the right for this. You can spread the blame a lot more widely than that.

Jesse Walker @ reason.com


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[1]. 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[2] 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 the fake news label 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 Phrase Fake News
Reason.com, Jan. 9, 2017

  1. [1]Instance from Snopes.com, January 2016. -RG
  2. [2]Instance from Buzzfeed, November 2016. -RG

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