“Fake news spreads ‘farther, faster, deeper’ than truth.” That ominous claim comes from a recent Washington Post headline, warning readers about the “spread of false rumors.”
The “fake news” moniker — President Trump’s useful descriptor of longstanding media bias — has now been hijacked by anti-Trumpers to vilify him and conservative viewpoints writ large.
Guardian columnist Lucia Graves recently accused President Trump of weaponizing “fake news” as a way to “distort truth.” Why? To “sew distrust in the institution of media.” In her words, the term “fake news” poses an existential “threat to democracy.”
Tom Wheeler — a former Obama official — penned a New York Times op-ed lamenting Russian attempts “to foster conflict in the United States and erode public faith in its democracy.” Only if we identify “fake news” on social media, Wheeler argues, can we “protect our democracy.”
The frequency of such hyperbolic virtue signaling never ceases to amaze. Media Matters for America, the left-wing media watchdog founded by Clinton sycophant David Brock, continues to target Republicans for allegedly using misinformation “as a political tactic.” One Media Matters blog post suggests Republicans are “terrible for democracy” because they don’t trust “more mainstream media outlets.”
Why would we? For over a year, left-wing legacy newspapers like The Times have relied on anonymous sources and misleading headlines to undermine President Trump and advance their liberal agenda. “Objective” cable news networks like CNN continue to exploit the victims of the Florida shooting as propaganda pawns to promote gun control and scapegoat the National Rifle Association for mass shootings.
When President Trump first introduced it, the “fake news” moniker resonated because it was grounded in a truth many Americans already understood. According to the Pew Research Center, the early coverage of the Trump administration has been 62 percent negative, while President Obama’s coverage was only 20 percent negative. In fact, only five percent of Trump coverage is positive. It’s no wonder seven in 10 Republicans have an unfavorable view of the media.
Liberal activists and their media allies never miss an opportunity to equate conservatism with the fringe, denouncing legitimate positions as misinformation “tactics” and lobbing ad hominem attacks rather than engaging in substance.
I’ve experienced it firsthand. The Clinton-aligned Media Matters’ blog post targeted my “political fake news game” because my law firm advises pro-Trump super PACs. They smeared me for spreading “junk news” because I provide legal services to right-leaning media companies.
One Dallas Morning News op-ed — purportedly explaining how “Putin’s proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns” — singled me out for counseling the largest pro-Trump super PACs. What’s my connection to debunked Russian collusion? The op-ed writer explains: “Backer was born in Russia and emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1978.”
Guilty. I was born in the former Soviet Union, and nearly 40 years ago my family fled the oppression of communism to give their children — including the one-year-old me — a better life. They gave up everything they had and left behind everyone they knew to flee to a place that guarantees the right to think and speak freely. To equate that accident of birth with some automatic affinity for modern-day Russia is the height of stupidity and cheap, unverified journalism.
From my youthful “rebel journalism” to my current work as chairman of Accuracy In Media, I’ve fought to defend the integrity of a free press and the free flow of ideas. Yet this writer chose to run with that line for a single reason: To suggest I’m somehow a Putin pawn, delegitimize the clients I serve, and score cheap political points — truth be damned. Unfortunately, it only diminishes what credibility the liberal media has left.
I’m not the left’s only target. Salon headlines like “Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?” routinely blame Republicans for not only spreading “conspiracy,” but also“spinning the news” and “making it up.” Others target Fox News and its viewers as “the real threat” to democracy.
Suggesting Trump voters are Kremlin pawns positions President Trump’s opponents as patriotic, even though they’re just exploiting deep-seated skepticism of Russia to justify investigations, impeachment trials, and other anti-Trump overtures. Describing the opponents of illegal immigration as close-minded bigots position its supporters as tolerant, making the Clinton concept of open borders more palatable. Likening Second Amendment supporters to “child murderers” positions gun control advocates as virtuous, making gun confiscation seem like “common sense” when it really flies in the face of freedom.
The more the left likens conservatism to fascist rhetoric and Kremlin propaganda and Twitter conspiracies, the tighter the grip liberals have on public discourse — and the more unbalanced our discourse becomes.
Don’t fall for it. The more you unpack “fake news” fearmongering, the more you realize it’s just a left-wing “political tactic” to demonize conservatives.
Dan Backer is a veteran campaign counsel, having served more than 100 candidates, PACs and political organizations. He is founding attorney of political.law, a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, VA.
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