The Difference between Fake News on the Left and Fake News on the Right

A lot has been made of the term “fake news.” There was a lot of it during the past Presidential election, and the Trump administration has taken to branding every story that it doesn’t like to be “fake news.” It isn’t so.

The Difference between Fake News on the Left and Fake News on the Right

I just want to point out something that should be obvious to people who have compared fake news on the left with fake news on the right.

  • Fake news on the left is designed to entertain.
  • Fake news on the right is designed to deceive.

Good example of fake news on the left are “The Onion” and the “Borowitz Report.” The readers of either know that the stories in them aren’t true. Those stories are satirical: they are designed to exaggerate, to amuse, to point a spotlight on something. They have headlines like “FBI to special-order a set of tiny handcuffs,” or “Betsy DeVos says Trump’s 40% approval rating means that more than half the country supports him.” Or stories like “Trump staffer grateful to work with so many people he could turn over to FBI in exchange for immunity,” or “Mar-a-Lago member complains about loud, obnoxious cabinet meeting at next table.”

On the right, it’s a completely different thing. Their fake news stories are deliberately intended to deceive. They’re intended to be believed and intended to be deceive. And to enrage. They are propagated by news sites like Breitbart and Infowars, and they are not funny in any way.

Three stories that are typical of fake news on the right include:

Stories like the three cited above have been completely debunked by non-partisan fact-checkers. They are no more credible than the obviously satirical stories form the Onion or the Borowitz Report. But people believe them as true.

The Death of American Common Sense

There has been this long popular notion that people in middle America have “common sense.” They may not be educated, the argument goes, but they can tell a conman when they see one, and they have the common sense that many educated people don’t have.

That notion, like so many others, has been blown apart by one Donald J. Trump. He has conned middle America to a remarkable degree, and all that legendary common sense that ordinary Americans supposedly possess has not come into play at all. Instead they’re falling for the Donald’s assertion that news that he doesn’t like or that contradicts his self-created narrative is “fake” news, when nothing could be further from the truth.


[1] This has sometimes been formulated as that 3 million people voted illegally, or that 3 million illegal aliens voted (which would obviously be illegal). Sometimes the number has ballooned out to 5 million. In Trump’s version, all of these people voted for Hillary Clinton. However, it’s worth noting that even if it were true that 3 million people voted illegally, and only a third of them voted for Trump, then Hillary Clinton would still have won the popular vote.

[2] This particular rumor led a demented man, one Edgar Maddison Welch, to take an AR15 into Comet Pizza with the intention of stopping the alleged pedophile ring. Once inside he fired his rifle into the floor. Miraculously, no one was hurt.

[3] This rumor is primarily propagated by the truly despicable Alex Jones, who also claims that the Oklahoma City bombing was faked as part of a plot to put down a “state’s rights” movements and to deprive people of their Second Amendment right to guns.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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2 Responses to The Difference between Fake News on the Left and Fake News on the Right

  1. 2000detours says:

    Respectfully, liberal fake news meant to deceive does exist. There were a lot of stories about fake news following the election and part of the message was that liberal deceptive news was not as well received by the target audience as was conservative fake news. Most fake news is produced for profit and those profiteers will churn out whatever gets marketable eyes on their websites. Our side is either less gullible or less hungry for validation of our prejudices, but there are still liberal links I skip because I don’t trust the language or the facts presented by those sites.

  2. a1skeptic says:

    2000detours, it’s not that liberal fake news meant to deceive does not exist, but the emphasis for liberal and conservative fake news is in a completely different place. There has been some liberal hysteria since Trump’s election — which I’m not in favor of — but in general the two types of fake news are dramatically different.

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