Now it’s official: The Russians have influenced the American presidential elections. Scandal. Horror. An avalanche of editorials.
The examples of fallacious articles would fill an encyclopedia. On Facebook, the hoax that Pope Francis had voiced his support for Trump had a million shares. The one that Obama wanted to ban the pledge of allegiance to the American flag had more than 2 million, between comments and shares. The one that claimed an FBI agent found murdered was suspected of having leaked the Clinton emails had half a million likes.
So the commentators are coming out: “Cleanse the web!” “We check, we verify!” “To arms, citizens!”
One wonders, however, why the defenders of quality journalism have not climbed the barricades in past years after reading headlines like “Abraham Lincoln was a woman!” (Weekly World News) or “Hillary has six months to live” (National Enquirer). They’re called supermarket tabloids because they’re sold at checkout counters and not newsstands, but they’ve influenced American culture and politics for at least 20 years. The infamous Lewinsky case, which led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, was born out of a tabloid gossip site, The Drudge Report, and then made its way to “serious” newspapers.