Deciphering “Fake News!”
The English language is difficult to fully comprehend. The same set of words can mean multiple things depending on tone, pitch, volume, etc.
This is especially true when it comes to determining what people mean when they say, “Fake News!”
I’m here to help.
Scenario 1: “Fake News.”
Properly understood, this person is saying that the story in question is entirely fabricated. Do not trust it. Reconsider any opinions, perspectives, or conclusions drawn from this particular new. This is supported by showing unbiased examples or articles that take the time to carefully present multiple sides without inserting opinion or judgement.
This is the rarest form of the phrase and is only included for academic purposes. You can pretty much disregard any expectation of this being what the person means.
Natural habitat: Far away from social media.
Scenario 2: “Fake News!”
This is properly understood as: “This news does not fit my preconceived notions, and therefore is fake. Because I’m right. Always. Even in High School. Mullets will come back. Watch.”
A far more common form of the phrase, its users are fascinatingly more likely to ascribe to actual fake news so long as it reinforces their existing convictions.
Natural habitat: Commenting and liking each others posts on threads where literally no contrary perspective is present unless in strawman form. Brainstorming exciting new hashtags. Sharing & retweeting the partisan mills such as Occupy Democrats or Breitbart. Currently bristling at their favorite fake news purveyors inclusion in the previous sentence. Repeatedly triggered or fooled by satire. Leaves angry comments about Onion articles.
Scenario 3: “Fake News?”
“I’m confused, the nice person on television said…”
Bless their hearts. These people see vitriolic blowhards of the left and right as though they were Uncle Walter telling them, “And that’s the way it is…”
Natural habitat: Religiously watching the Daily Show, O’Reilly Factor, Sean Hannity, Sally Kohn, or Rachel Maddow. If they can’t trust entertaining people on tv, believe they can’t trust anybody. Not completely sure if professional wrestling is real or not.
Scenario 4: “Fake. News.”
This is properly understood as: Our competition is untrustworthy. Your eyes, loyalty, and ad clicks should belong to us and us only.
These are media outlets using the concept of Fake News as part of a marketing campaign to increase user loyalty and revenue. Rather than champion journalistic principles (remember those? I studied them in college for my communications major. So quaint.) these users of the term simply assert that when they talk it is not fake, but when their competition talks, it is fake.
Natural habitat: In a boardroom looking at the numbers, trying to figure out how to keep people watching the shows mentioned in Scenario 3 while still maintaining the appearance of unbiased reporting. Finding out that it’s actually really easy. Suckers.
Scenario 5: “Fake news, amiright?”
This person uses the whole Fake News concept as a punchline.
Perhaps most to be pitied, they attempt to write funny articles about it because, deep down, they know that people would rather feel right than face truth.
Natural habitat: Crying on the inside. Kind of wishing 24 hour and internet news wasn’t a thing, but knowing that’s impossible. Thinking about subscribing to a newspaper except…too much fake news.
When local baseball player Junior Jones receives death threats over the color of his skin, the team’s wealthy owner hires Sam Rockwell to solve the case and stop a murder before it happens. Sam goes undercover as a minor league pitcher to strike out the culprit. Follow the clues along with Sam’s curmudgeonly ghost of a father Frank Rockwell, and Sam’s wife Amelia, who holds a secret that will forever change the lives of the entire Rockwell family.
It’s another laugh-filled, madcap mystery in the warm, witty 1950’s Hollywood-style of author Jason Anspach.