The origin of the infamous “fake news” phrase hurled back-and-forth between mainstream media outlets and President Donald Trump appears to have been uncovered by an investigative journalist.
At a recent TedX Talk at the University of Nevada, investigative journalist and author Sharyl Attkisson revealed how the 45th president weaponized the term and used it against mainstream media outlets.
As reported by PJ Media, Attkisson noted that the term “fake news” has been around for ages in the form of phrases such as “false media narratives” and “tabloid journalism.” However, the new “fake news” term began taking shape in 2016 when mainstream media outlets began pushing viewers to focus on false narratives supposedly pushed by conservative media outlets.
Attkisson began searching further to uncover the origins of the term, discovering that a non-profit organization named First Draft appeared “to be the about the first to use ‘fake news’ in its modern context.”
First Draft claims to use “research-based methods to fight mis- and disinformation online.” But, as noted by Attkisson, the organization had a major donor in the form of Google — more on that later.
“On September 13, 2016, First Draft announced a partnership to tackle malicious hoaxes and fake news reports,” Attkisson said during her TedX Talk. “The goal was supposedly to separate wheat from chaff, to prevent unproven conspiracy talk from figuring prominently in internet searches. To relegate today’s version of the alien baby story to a special internet oblivion.”
Then, according to Attkisson, former President Barack Obama interjected himself into the conversation of outing malicious media outlets.
“He insisted in a speech that he too thought somebody needed to step in and curate information of this wild, wild West media environment,” she added, insisting that mainstream media had now received “its marching orders.”
“Fake news, they insisted, was an imminent threat to American democracy,” she continued.
The investigative journalist then asked the crowd to ponder this possibility: “What if the whole anti-fake news campaign was an effort on somebody’s part to keep us from seeing or believing certain websites and stories by controversializing them or labeling them as fake news?”
As mentioned earlier, Google was a big donor to the small non-profit First Draft. Attkisson discovered that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was headed by a man named Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt, as reported by PJ Media, was a major supporter of former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to Attkisson, “(T)he whole thing smacked of the roll-out of a propaganda campaign,” but it inevitably backfired as Trump began flipping the term and using the fake news moniker against the media outlets who originally aimed it at him and his party.
“But something happened that nobody expected. The anti-fake news campaign backfired,” she said. “Each time advocates cried fake news, Donald Trump called them ‘fake news’ until he’d co-opted the term so completely that even those who (were) originally promoting it started running from it — including the Washington Post.“
Attkisson provided the audience with warning signs that massive corporations may “be trying to manipulate” their views and opinions.
The first warning sign she described is when media outlets attempt to reshape or outright censor facts as opposed to reporting them. And the second sign to remain aware of is when multiple media outlets are reporting the same stories and pushing the same narratives and using identical phrases.
“When interests are working this hard to shape your opinion, their true goal might just be to add another layer between you and the truth,” Attkisson said in conclusion.
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