The Trump administration folks talk about “Fake News,” which they seem to define as any news they don’t like. “Real News” is, apparently, whatever they like – usually on Fox News, not CNN (the so-called “Clinton News Network”).
No doubt, there is Fake News. “The Daily Show” and “The Onion” used to be called “Fake News,” but everyone – except maybe a few of the most backward among us – knew that this “news” was satire.
The real “Fake News” has generally always been some form of propaganda spread around to manipulate a target group. For example, do you remember: “If we don’t fight in Viet Nam, before long evil Asian soldiers will be storming across our southern border”? When someone who didn’t actually believe in this “Domino Effect” reported it simply to manipulate an audience, THAT was “Fake News,” a lie. On the other hand, if a reporter believed the Domino Effect was real when he reported on it, that was just a mistake, “Mistaken News.”
“Spin” could be seen as “Fake News,” since by definition it is an attempt to sway an audience rather than inform. Every day paid “Spinners” appear in the media attacking facts and “alternative facts” in an attempt to get us to believe what the Spinners’ masters want us to believe. That’s Fake news, too.
But bigger than all this is “Fake Truth.” Every society is based upon myths presented as absolute facts with the aim of maintaining the status quo. Medieval societies, for example, believed God chose the Kings and ordered society, Royalty on top and Serfs on the bottom. The belt buckles of Hitler’s soldiers announced, “God With Us.” Numerous societies even believed their leader was God.
As Stephen Colbert has pointed out, “Culture is a set of agreed upon opinions.” We no longer agree that the earth is flat or that a god throws lightning bolts or that gigantic sea serpents roam the oceans looking for ships to sink; but we do have agreed upon opinions, and that is where “Fake Truth” comes in.
George Orwell pointed out that “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The “Truths” we believe today are, in many instances, the result of the various “pasts” that those in control have created for us.
Unfortunately, part of our (and everyone else’s) cultural “Truth” is “Fake Truth,” invented over the years by those in control manipulating the past to achieve the future they prefer. Some of these “Fake Truths” are “official truths”; some are unofficial but widely held to justify an often unjustifiable practice.
For example, we officially claim to love those who serve in the armed forces – it helps with recruitment; but how we treat veterans reveals this to be a “Fake Truth.” We describe ourselves as champions of democracy, but gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and recent laws designed to restrict voting by certain groups all reveal this as another “Fake Truth.”
Over the years, any number of unofficial “Truths” regarding women, gays, Jews, blacks, and others – “Truths” that have served various agendas – have been discovered to be “Fake Truth.” And so, it seems to me that what President Trump and his alt-right advisor are attempting to do is to use their control of the present to manipulate the past via their own “Fake News,” thus creating a different past where America has fallen so low that today only The Great and Glorious Wizard of Trump can make it great again.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal