A GamerGate tactic goes mainstream and the mainstream media backs down fast.
When Jim DeMint wanted to dis a TV interviewer’s suggestion that Obamacare has merits as well as flaws, the former senator and tea partyer used a handy putdown: “You can put all that under the category of fake news.”
When conspiracy theorist Alex Jones wanted to deny a CNN report that Ivanka Trump would take over the East Wing offices traditionally occupied by the first lady, he used the same label.
And when a writer for an arch-conservative website needed a putdown for ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, he reached for the obvious: “fake-news propagandist.”
Fake news has a real meaning — deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public. For example: The one falsely claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, or the one alleging without basis that Hillary Clinton would be indicted just before the election.
But though the term hasn’t been around long, its meaning already is lost. Faster than you could say “Pizzagate,” the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear.
“The speed with which the term became polarized and in fact a rhetorical weapon illustrates how efficient the conservative media machine has become,” said George Washington University professor Nikki Usher.
As Jeremy Peters wrote in the New York Times: “Conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself . . . have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.”
So, here’s a modest proposal for the truth-based community.
Let’s get out the hook and pull that baby off stage. Yes: Simply stop using it.
The Alt-Right and conservatives managed to jujitsu the rhetorical term “fake news” so easily because the best rhetoric is rooted in truth. And because it is readily observable that no one reports more false information than the mainstream media, there were far more examples that could be reasonably described as “fake news” to be found in the mainstream media than were being spread around social media by the Right. Ergo, it stuck to them rather than to their targets, and blew up in their faces.
That doesn’t mean the tactic will work every time, only when the truth is more in line with the Right’s use of the rhetorical term than the Left’s. Of course, that will be most of the time, as the shameless dishonesty in this piece demonstrates:
“the label has been co-opted to mean any number of completely different things: Liberal claptrap. Or opinion from left-of-center. Or simply anything in the realm of news that the observer doesn’t like to hear.”
No, it hasn’t, as it was instead applied to mean false information presented as accurate news by the mainstream media. Notice that Left can’t afford to be completely honest even when they are affecting to do so, which is why they will always be vulnerable to rhetorical jujitsu of this sort. And on a tangential note, observe that this is why larping and “mocking” the media by playing along with its narrative is always a mistake, as doing so strengthens their rhetoric and eliminates the possibility of turning it around on them.
If you don’t understand the tactic’s connection to #GamerGate, it is an application of the frequently used GG tactic of taking over enemy hashtags, also known as “all ur hashtag are belong to us”. I even described this specific tactic in modest detail in SJWs Always Lie.