This surprise nominee has everything going for it. Fake news is fake by definition, so who can criticize the choice? It's total journalistic hotness, as noted. And the choice represents a call to action, opposing fake news, in symphony with a call that is already reverberating in fact-checking circles.The article PolitiFact published to announce its choice, written by editor Angie Drobnic Holan, jibes right on down the line with the reasons Jeff and I thought it was an idiotic-yet-predictable choice.
Is it a lame choice? Yes, it's as lame as all get out. I'd doubt journalists even have a clue about the impact of fake news, not to even mention the role fact checkers play in supporting false news memes that liberals favor.
"Fake News" is so broad, we thought, that it would end up as PolitiFact's self-justification for its own existence.
We also pointed out that the choice shields PolitiFact from criticism. On the one hand, Fake News gives PolitiFact an excuse not to pick a good candidate, such as Hillary Clinton's aggressive and false defense of her email activity--one with a fairly inevitable impact on Clinton's election prospects--that would risk offending its primarily liberal audience. On the other hand, Fake News is so vague that it offers no target for criticism.
Holan even took the predictable path of tying Fake News to the election results without any real data to back her argument:
Fake news found a willing enabler in Trump, who at times uttered outrageous falsehoods and legitimized made-up reports. Clinton emboldened her detractors and turned off undecideds with a lawyerly parsing of facts that left many feeling that she was lying. Her enemies ran wild.Got the subtext? Fake News was a big key to Trump's victory.
Another subtext throughout Holan's article presents fact-checking (the mainstream media brand, with PolitiFact as its star player) as the antidote to the society-destroying effects of Fake News.
Even before PolitiFact announced its Lie of the Year for 2016, we planned to dip our toe into Fake News outrage by compiling a list of PolitiFact's top fake news stories for 2016. That is, we will show people how PolitiFact's articles sometimes reinforce and spread false beliefs.
We expect to publish the list next week.