If you ask me, the single worst thing done by Donald Trump was the popularization of the phrase “fake news,” with the implication that his opponents were, well, telling lies. And indisputably they were, because that’s what politicians, and media yoked to politicians, inevitably do. In current American political discourse, one may safely assume that a grain of truth, no more, is the maximum to be found in any press release, any speech, any 280-character Twitter upchuck. Fake news is ubiquitous, has been for some time, and will remain so for however long it takes for our current political class to be swept away and be replaced by honest folk. Don’t hold your breath waiting.
In the meantime, now that “fake news” is A Thing, “control” of it will be weaponized. An early example from Malaysia:
A foreign visitor became the first person convicted and sentenced to jail under a new law to punish those deemed to have published “fake news” after he criticized the police response to the slaying of a Palestinian engineer in Kuala Lumpur.
Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46 years old, a Danish national of Yemeni origins, pleaded guilty Monday at a court hearing. He was sentenced to a week in jail but opted to serve a month behind bars in lieu of paying a fine of about $2,600. He wasn’t represented by a lawyer.
The case marked unexpected circumstances for the first use of the law since Parliament passed it April 3 amid criticism by rights groups that it would be wielded to inhibit criticism of the government ahead of elections on May 9. The government has denied that that is its intent, and Mr. Salah is the only person to have been charged under it…
And that very denial, of course, is fake. But you figured that one out, right?
Mr. Salah appeared in a video posted to YouTube — and since removed — from the scene of the assassination of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an electrical engineer and university lecturer who had lived in Malaysia for a decade. He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he walked to dawn prayers at a mosque. No one has been arrested.
Mr. Salah accused medical services and police of being slow to respond to the shooting. Authorities vehemently rejected the allegations and arrested him. On Monday, he apologized and said he had recently arrived in Malaysia to visit friends and didn’t know the law existed.
Meanwhile in Gaza, the slain engineer’s family blamed the Mossad, because of course they did.
Ken Layne once warned the media and their enablers that “we can fact-check your ass.” It’s no surprise that politicians would like to return the favor — or at least appear to.