So as it turns out – and follow along if you can, I apologize – the “real” story about “fake news” becoming more popular than “real news” was actually “fake.”
This seems to be a cause célèbre lately – trying to weed out what the mainstream media – mostly Leftists, really, call “fake news.” They’re claiming that the 2016 election may have been swayed by people looking at “fake news” and that it somehow became more popular than Real News.
Ben Smith over at BuzzFeed tweeted out a simplistic chart seeming to indicate this:
The tweet links to a Buzzfeed Story that is headlined “Viral Fake Election News Outperformed Real News On Facebook In Final Months Of The US Election,” and it is full of interesting data about fake news, but provides zero evidence to back up the headline or the tweet: that “fake news beats real news.”
As The Washington Examiner points out, first, the study looked at only the top 20 stories on fake websites compared to the top 20 stories on “mainstream” sites. These “mainstream” sites included Huffington Post and Vox, two screamingly Left-wing sites, but not sites like Yahoo News and the Daily Mail, two of the most popular sites on the internet. Also excluded from “mainstream sites” were Reuters, the Associated Press, the BBC, the Chicago Tribune and Bloomberg.
So the “Real News” numbers are from an incomplete, odd, and unexplained subsample of the media.
Also, the “Real News” isn’t even Real News.
Look at the top “Real News” stories to which Buzzfeed compares the fake news stories.
Here’s the top “Real News” stories: “Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?” As the headline suggests, this is a liberal opinion piece, complaining that the media doesn’t report enough on Trump’s scandals.
No. 2 is “Stop Pretending You Don’t Know Why People Hate Hillary Clinton.” This is a rambling screed claiming that people only dislike Clinton because she is a woman.
The No. 3 “Real News” story is “Melania Trump’s Girl-on-Girl Photos From Racy Shoot Revealed,” published at the New York Post.
To be clear, the journalists gnashing their teeth about “Fake Election News” winning would have been less concerned if “Melania Trump’s Girl-on-Girl Photos” had received more clicks.
This study tells us nothing. But that hasn’t kept it from catching on.