The secret to acquiring herd immunity

Today’s Times re-introduces me to an explosion of online “news networks” which are not news. They’re propaganda.

In one of the last chapters of How I Learned The Facts of Life — a summing-up of what kind of fakery would be assaulting us before our imminent election — I’d picked up news (factual news) about one right-wing operative who was busily creating “local newspapers” to prep voters on all the fakes fit to print.

Sadly, the Times points out how these fake maestros are opportunistic, jumping into the void left when so many local newspapers have died.

Here’s what I wrote:

The “alternative facts” folks are not giving up, and today there are more of them – predominantly “conservative,” i.e., paranoid fact-shifters with digital platforms.

Websites (and even TV “stations” posing as network affiliates) with distinctive political leans, designed to look like brand new local digital newspapers, are springing up around the world. Web design programs make creating these things really easy. One person can lay out and operate them, on behalf of a political candidate and/or against one.

And, like the “entrepreneurs” who pitched anti-Hillary garbage in 2016, the 2020 versions may manage to extract subscription fees from credulous people. Call one of these things “New Rochelle Dispatch,” say, and there you are, manufacturing fake news at your leisure and maybe for your profit.

On November 21, 2019, The Times’s Nicole Penroth reported that an ex-Fox News executive, Ken LaCorte, has branched out into bi-partisan fakery.

LaCorte is the maestro of two new websites, Conservative Edition News and Liberal Edition News. Both of them attempt to raise the hackles of readers with fake news stories.

I’ve got a sad message for LaCorte. The only hackles he’s going to raise are conservative hackles, already pumped sky high by ugly conspiracy nonsense. Because, as I discovered and earlier reported, liberal hackles seem to be unassailable.

Remember the jobless computer science graduate student in Georgia – the country, not our state – who decided to make a living from publishing extreme political “news” for Americans, in fulsome support of Hillary Clinton?

“I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.

And, even more pointed, is that little tale of fake news entrepreneur Jestin Coler, who discovered that when his writers tried to write fake news for liberals, they never took the bait.

So, Mr. LaCorte, you might think about folding your Liberal Edition News because liberals don’t bite.

Two things to say further.

First, support your local newspapers.

Second, if you’re a liberal, you’ve acquired herd immunity to fake news.

 

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