Let’s Cool It On the “Fake News” Irony

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Over at National Review, James Sherk has a complaint:

President-elect Trump has picked Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants (i.e. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s) for labor secretary. Amusingly, the media coverage of his nomination has been dominated by . . . fake news. Several outlets have reported that Puzder opposes increasing the minimum wage. That’s not exactly true.

Forget the Puzder stuff. His view on the minimum wage is a little hard to pin down. My objection is to the overuse of “fake news.” There are two things that can qualify:

  • Stuff that’s literally made up and passed off as real. The most famous example is here.
  • Wild conspiracy theories passed around on Facebook pages and crank websites.

“Fake news” is a useful concept, but not if we start using it to refer to anything we think is wrong or biased or not fully reported. We already have good words for this kind of stuff, ranging from “not the whole story” to “outright lie.” We don’t need to ruin a perfectly good phrase by using it where it really doesn’t fit.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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