Category: Fake News and the Politics of Knowledge

Journalists Won’t Get the ‘Fake News’ Story Right: They Need Help

Editor’s note: This is a jointly-authored post by Lynn Schofield Clark, Professor and Chair of the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver, and Adrienne Russell, Mary Laird Wood Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington.  The Federal Communications Commission vote to end net neutrality generated weeks of stories last month — good stories — and the topic will fuel many more good stories in the months and year to come. Those stories at the intersection where technology, policy, politics and ideology meet are testament in large part to the way savvy activist communities have framed the story of net neutrality and pushed it into the news cycle. Activist-experts have made net neutrality news stories easy to write. They have articulated why internet regulatory policy should matter to the public, how it affects creative and entrepreneurial endeavor, how it has fueled but could also hobble the kind of digital innovation that has shaped daily life for hundreds of millions of Americans. We haven’t enjoyed the same kind of coverage on the rise of “fake news,” a similarly complex story. “Fake news” is a digital-age phenomenon, a rhetorical device, a business story, a political scourge, a foreign policy threat, and more. It is as juicy a story as it is complex, and yet the mainstream media has failed to fully take it up — and, without help, the mainstream media never will fully take it up. (read more...)

Fake News and the Rotten George Soros

One of the fascinating things about FAKE NEWS and the attendant debate about bias, lying, facts and information is the incredible relevance of so-called “classic” anthropology in our current moment. For my money, Levi-Strauss has been particularly important for my ethnographic work with the highly combustible rhetoric and action of the American Right. For the past two years, I’ve been doing ethnographic fieldwork with Trump supporters, specifically white nationalists, but also everyday individuals with different investments in Trump as a symbol and idea concretized into a body. As anthropologists (and other assorted ethnographers) comment on the political milieu in the US, I have been shocked by the shallow, simplified assumptions about how the Right operates. “Ideology” is such an unsatisfying shorthand, which assumes so much. Here, I’d like to take off from Andria Timmer’s post over at Savage Minds about who  George Soros, the Right’s [current] favorite punching bag, actually is. Here, I want to argue that for Trump supporters of all different stripes, it doesn’t actually matter who Soros is or what he does. George Soros – and the same thing might be said about FACTS or NEWS more widely – is something that “grassroots” conservative activists think with, not about. Fake news, in other words, is about ritual and a political cosmology. (read more...)

Three Perspectives on “Fake News”

Editor’s Note: Today, Shreeharsh Kelkar brings us the inaugural post in a new series on Fake News and the Politics of Knowledge. The goal is to tackle the knowledge politics of both so-called “fake news” itself and the discourse that has cropped up around it, from a wide range of theoretical perspectives on media, science, technology, and communication. If you are interested in contributing, please write to editor@castac.org with a brief proposal.  Donald Trump’s shocking upset of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Election brought into wide prominence issues that heretofore had been debated mostly in intellectual and business circles: the question of “filter bubbles,” of people who refuse to accept facts (scientific or otherwise), and what these mean for liberal democracies and the public sphere.  All these concerns have now have coalesced around an odd little signifier, “fake news” [1].     (read more...)