Showing posts with label Fake Media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fake Media. Show all posts

January 14, 2019

The Clock is Ticking and The Media Might Failed Us Again With Trump

"On at least one occasion, President Trump took possession of his interpreter’s notes after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said. There is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with Putin over the past two years, the officials said."

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Frank Bruni posted on the Sunday New York Times about the complicity of the media on Donald Trump. Since there is a chance he might finish the first term is important for responsible people to recognize now what the media did wrong and remind them of it so it won't happen on the next election. There isn't much time left. I don't think the media has learn much as I watch them looking for ratings ( I hate to agree with Trump on that one) and ignoring the meat of what is going on. Never was a candidate or a President covered more than Trump. His lies taken as truth with the exuse they are only suppose to report the news.Yes report the truth!
Why has this happen with Trump? 
Because he is a clown and when you see a clown where you don't expect one it will get everyone's attention. But there comes a time that the jokes and the attacks this clown has towards everyone who doesn't agree with him become tired and yesterdays news because is the same repetition of accusations and even if now he throws Fuck, shit, whore to keep those reporters wrting on their pads. It's time to remind the clown by his own words that we know what he is because only Clowns have big red noses because they lie constantly and a funny smile put on by make up. Only a clown will honk you when he feels he is loosing your coverage. A four letter word or announcing another war he has no plan of starting will do it.  He will throw something knowing he will not be reminded of it.
Trump locked himself up with Putin for one hour or two, No cameras no pads no witnesses except the Russians. And still he is able to say everything he does is in the open. The media was suppose to be the truth seeker, the protector of our democracy but it sold itself out. I guess the reporters and talking heads forgot what their role is on our political systems and particularly at election time. 
Frank Brunicovers these subjects and remind us again where the media faulted and it mentions a second chance. I wonder when the clock will start ticking for the second chance. I think it's been ticking alredy. I recoment you reading it and hopefully it will give you ammunition to those in the media and goverment to remind them the clock is ticking.If you feel he misses something I hope you will remind him.

“Pocahontas” won’t be lonely for long.

As other Democrats join Elizabeth Warren in the contest for the party’s presidential nomination, President Trump will assign them their own nicknames, different from hers but just as derisive. There’s no doubt.

But how much heed will we in the media pay to this stupidity? Will we sprint to Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker or Mike Bloomberg for a reaction to what Trump just called one of them and then rush back to him for his response to that response? Or will we note Trump’s latest nonsense only briefly and pivot to matters more consequential?

That’s a specific question but also an overarching one — about the degree to which we’ll let him set the terms of the 2020 presidential campaign, about our appetite for antics versus substance, and about whether we’ll repeat the mistakes that we made in 2016 and continued to make during the first stages of his presidency. There were plenty.

Trump tortures us. Deliberately, yes, but I’m referring to the ways in which he keeps yanking our gaze his way. I mean the tough choices that he, more than his predecessors in the White House, forces us to make. His demand for television airtime on Tuesday night was a perfect example: We had to weigh a request in line with precedent against a president out of line when it comes to truth. We had to wrestle with — and figure out when and how to resist — his talent for using us as vessels for propaganda. 

[Go beyond the headlines and behind the curtain with Frank Bruni’s candid reflections on politics, culture, higher education and more every week. Sign up for his newsletter.]

We will wrestle with that repeatedly between now and November 2020, especially in the context of what may well be the most emotional and intense presidential race of our lifetimes. With the dawn of 2019 and the acceleration of potential Democratic candidates’ preparations for presidential bids, we have a chance to do things differently than we did the last time around — to redeem ourselves.

Our success or failure will affect our stature at a time of rickety public trust in us. It will raise or lower the temperature of civic discourse, which is perilously hot. Above all, it will have an impact on who takes the oath of office in January 2021. Democracies don’t just get the leaders they deserve. They get the leaders who make it through whatever obstacle course — and thrive in whatever atmosphere — their media has created.

“The shadow of what we did last time looms over this next time,” the former CBS newsman Dan Rather, who has covered more than half a century of presidential elections, told me. And what we did last time was emphasize the sound and the fury, because Trump provided both in lavish measure.

“When you cover this as spectacle,” Rather said, “what’s lost is context, perspective and depth. And when you cover this as spectacle, he is the star.” Spectacle is his métier. He’s indisputably spectacular. And even if it’s a ghastly spectacle and presented that way, it still lets him control the narrative. As the writer Steve Almond observed in a recently published essay, “He appears powerful to his followers, which is central to his strongman mystique.”
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Trump was and is a perverse gift to the mainstream, establishment media, a magnet for eyeballs at a juncture when we were struggling economically and desperately needed one. Just present him as the high-wire act and car crash that he is; the audience gorges on it. But readers’ news appetite isn’t infinite, so they’re starved of information about the fraudulence of his supposed populism and the toll of his incompetence. And he wins. He doesn’t hate the media, not at all. He uses us.

Did that dynamic help elect him? There’s no definitive answer. But we gave him an extraordinary bounty of coverage, depriving his rivals of commensurate oxygen and agency. And while our coverage of him had turned overwhelmingly negative by the final months of the 2016 campaign, it by no means started out that way.

Thomas Patterson of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy has been analyzing that coverage since Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency in 2015. Patterson found that for much of that year, the number of stories about Trump in the country’s most influential newspapers and on its principal newscasts significantly exceeded what his support in polls at the time justified.

And those stories were predominantly positive. “The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls,” Patterson wrote in one of his reports about the election. In stark contrast, stories about Hillary Clinton in 2015 were mostly negative.

Through the first half of 2016, as Trump racked up victories in the Republican primaries, he commanded much more coverage than any other candidate from either party, and it was evenly balanced between positive and negative appraisals — unlike the coverage of Clinton, which remained mostly negative.

Only during their general-election face-off in the latter half of 2016 did Trump and Clinton confront equivalent tides of naysaying. “On topics relating to the candidates’ fitness for office, Clinton and Trump’s coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone,” Patterson wrote.

Regarding their fitness for office, they were treated identically? In retrospect, that’s madness. It should have been in real time, too. 

But we fell prey to a habit that can’t be repeated when we compare the new crop of Democratic challengers to Trump and to one another. We interpreted fairness as a similarly apportioned mix of complimentary and derogatory stories about each contender, no matter how different one contender’s qualifications, accomplishments and liabilities were from another’s. If we were going to pile on Trump, we had to pile on Clinton — or, rather, keep piling on her.

“It was wall-to-wall emails,” said Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The Times and the author of a book about the media, “Merchants of Truth,” that will be published next month. She was referring to the questions and complaints about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. “When you compare that to the wrongdoing that has been exposed so far by Robert Mueller,” Abramson told me, “it seems like a small thing.” The considerable muck in Clinton’s background never did, and never could, match the mountain of muck in Trump’s.

Abramson, who had left The Times and was writing a column for The Guardian during the 2016 campaign, maintains that Trump also benefited from the media’s excessive faith in polls and its insufficient grasp of what was happening among Americans between the coasts. “The basic flaw of the press coverage, and I count myself in it, was the total assumption that Hillary would win,” she said. “The firepower of the investigative spotlight turned on Trump was a little bit less, because no one thought he would be the president, and that was a grave mistake.” 

I’m not certain that more firepower would have made a difference. For one thing, there were many exposés of Trump’s shady history. For another, he appealed to voters who largely disregard the mainstream media and who thrilled to his exhortations that they disregard it further. And many of those voters were embracing disruption or rejecting Clinton; the tally of Trump’s sins had little bearing on that.

Regardless, he won’t get any pass along those lines in 2020. There are formal investigations galore into his behavior. The media needs only to track them — and is doing so, raptly.

We need to do something else, too, which is to recognize that Trump now has an actual record in office and to discuss that with as much energy as we do his damned Twitter feed.

By the time the 2020 election kicks into highest gear, Trump will have been president for more than three years, barring his impeachment, his resignation or his spontaneous combustion (with him, you never know). We’ll have evidence aplenty to demonstrate that he’s ineffective and incompetent, an approach more likely to have traction than telling voters that he’s outrageous. They already know that. 

We just have to wean ourselves from his Twitter expectorations, which are such easy, entertaining fuel for talking — or, rather, exploding — heads. I’ve certainly been powered by that fuel, in print and on television, myself.

“You know what would be great?” said Amanda Carpenter, who worked as a communications adviser and speechwriter for Ted Cruz and wrote the 2018 book “Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us.” “Instead of covering Trump’s tweets on a live, breaking basis, just cover them in the last five minutes of a news show. They’re presidential statements, but we can balance them.”

We can also allow his challengers to talk about themselves as much as they do about him. In 2016, Carpenter said, that didn’t happen. “It was deeply unfair,” she told me. “When the whole news cycle was microphones shoved in Republican candidates’ faces and the question was always, ‘What’s your reaction to what Trump just said?,’ there’s no way to drive your own message.”

And when journalists gawp at each of Trump’s tirades, taunts and self-congratulatory hallucinations, these heresies blur together and he evades accountability for the ones that should stick. I asked Rather what he was most struck by in the 2016 campaign, and he instantly mentioned Trump’s horrific implication, in public remarks that August, that gun enthusiasts could rid themselves of a Clinton presidency by assassinating her.

I’d almost forgotten it. So many lesser shocks so quickly overwrote it. Rather wasn’t surprised. “It got to the point where it was one outrage after another, and we just moved on each time,” he said. Instead, we should hold on to the most outrageous, unconscionable moments. We should pause there awhile. We can’t privilege the incremental over what should be the enduring. It lets Trump off the hook.

So does anything, really, that tugs us from issues of policy and governance into the realms of theater and sport. That puts a greater premium than ever on avoiding what Joel Benenson called “the horse-race obsession” with who’s ahead, who’s behind, who seems to be breaking into a gallop, who’s showing signs of a limp.

Benenson was the chief strategist and pollster for Clinton’s campaign, and he told me: “Cable networks have figured out that the most interesting television of the week is the National Football League pregame show, and that if you put enough experts on arguing about something that hasn’t happened yet, people will watch. And that’s what we’re doing with our politics. The media is not using their strength, their franchise, to elevate and illuminate the conversation. They’re just getting you all jazzed up about the game.” 

That carried over into Trump’s presidency itself. To wit: Pew analyzed over 3,000 stories from 24 news organizations during his first four months in office to determine what the media gave the most coverage to. It wasn’t any legislative proposal or executive action such as the ban on travel into the United States from largely Muslim countries. It was his “political skills.”

I think that we’ve improved since then, and all along our efforts have included significant in-depth reporting. The Times’s acquisition and exhaustive analysis of confidential financial records of Trump’s from the 1990s — and its conclusion, in an epic story published in October, that he used questionable schemes to build his wealth — is a sterling example.

But the lure of less demanding labors (“Trump Calls Former Aide a Three-Toed Sloth Minus the Vigor!”) is always there, especially because readers and viewers, no matter how much they complain about the media’s shallowness, reward it. What they lap up most readily and reliably is Trump the Baby at the top of the newscast, Trump the Buffoon in the highlights reel, Trump the Bully in the headline. And that’s on them.

But it’s on us to try to interest them in more and to leaven that concentration of attention with full, vivid introductions to Trump’s alternatives. Dozens of Democrats are poised to volunteer for that role, and when we in the media observe — as I myself have done — that they must possess the requisite vividness to steal some of his spotlight, we’re talking as much about our own prejudices and shortcomings as anything else. We can direct that spotlight where we want. It needn’t always fall on the politician juggling swords or doing back flips.

It’s on us to quit staging “likability” sweepstakes — a prize more often withheld from female politicians than from male ones. We should buck commercial considerations to the extent that we can and give the candidates’ competing visions of government as much scrutiny as their competing talents for quips or proneness to gaffes. Every four years we say we’ll devote more energy and space to policy and every four years we don’t. But in an environment this polarized and shrill, and at a crossroads this consequential, following through on that vow is more important than ever.

It’s on us not to surrender to tired taxonomies that worsen the country’s divisions and echo Trump’s divisiveness. Black voters, white voters, urban voters and rural voters aren’t driven solely by those designations, and the soul of the country doesn’t belong exclusively to former factory workers in the Rust Belt.

“Their voices deserve to be heard, but so do the minority voices in urban America,” Rather said. “And I think we can do a better job as journalists not to overuse the phrase ‘average American,’ and also to expand the definition of it.” 

The real story of Trump isn’t his amorality and outrageousness. It’s Americans’ receptiveness to that. It’s the fact that, according to polls, most voters in November 2016 deemed him dishonest and indecent, yet plenty of them cast their ballots for him anyway.

“Trump basically ran on blowing the whole thing up,” said Nancy Gibbs, who was the top editor at Time magazine from 2013 to 2017. “So what was it that the country wanted? It’s critically important that we find ways to get at what it is people imagine government should be doing and that we really look at what kind of leadership we need.”

Nicknames have nothing to do with it. So let’s not have much to do with them.

  You can follow Frank on Twitter (@FrankBruni).
Frank Bruni has been with The Times since 1995 and held a variety of jobs — including White House reporter, Rome bureau chief and chief restaurant critic — before becoming a columnist in 2011. He is the author of three best-selling books.  @FrankBruni • Facebook

November 11, 2018

Tucker Carlson Seems to Have Assaulted a Gay Immigrant

Attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted that he is investigating an alleged assault committed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and/or members of his inner circle.  The incident that apparently took place at a club in Virginia last month is at least partially corroborated through a video (seen below) — although no violence or assault is depicted in the video.
Avenatti also says that the incident “likely includes underage drinking in violation of VA law”.  He alleges that Carlson’s son and daughter were present and that his son committed assault and battery, while his daughter was “drinking underage” with Tucker’s “assistance and knowledge”. 
“We are attempting to locate additional witnesses and to identify those depicted in the video,” Avenatti tweeted. “In particular, we need assistance identifying the balding man that grabs the man seated at the bar. We anticipate charges being filed. Anyone with knowledge, pls contact us.”
The video, which can be seen above, was also tweeted by Avenatti.  It clearly shows Tucker Carlson repeatedly cursing, and telling another individual to “get the f–k out of here” several times.  What’s not seen or heard on the video but alleged by Avenatti is that Carlson also told an apparent immigrant to “go back where you came from”.
Avenatti went on to respond to an individual asking him what the video reveals, by saying, “You mean other than Tucker repeatedly cursing a guy out seated at the bar while a friend/associate of his makes a bee line for the guy, grabs him off his chair, and then threatens violence?” “Assault is [a] threat of violence. Battery is a physical touching,” Avenatti told Hillreporter. “There are both in the video,” he explained.
According to Avenatti, numerous witnesses were there and contradict any claims by Carlson that he was innocent in the matter.
Fox News reached out to Hill Reporter on Sunday, November 11, and provided a response from Carlson:
“On October 13, I had dinner with two of my children and some family friends at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. Toward the end of the meal, my 19-year-old daughter went to the bathroom with a friend. On their way back through the bar, a middle aged man stopped my daughter and asked if she was sitting with Tucker Carlson. My daughter had never seen the man before. She answered: ‘That’s my dad,’ and pointed to me. The man responded, ‘Are you Tucker’s whore?’ He then called her a ‘fucking cunt.’
My daughter returned to the table in tears. She soon left the table and the club. My son, who is also a student, went into the bar to confront the man. I followed. My son asked the man if he’d called his sister a ‘whore’ and a ‘cunt.’ The man admitted he had, and again become profane. My son threw a glass of red wine in the man’s face and told him to leave the bar, which he soon did.
Immediately after the incident, I described these events to the management of the Farmington Country Club. The club spent more than three weeks investigating the incident. Last week, they revoked the man’s membership and threw him out of the club.
I love my children. It took enormous self-control not to beat the man with a chair, which is what I wanted to do. I think any father can understand the overwhelming rage and shock that I felt seeing my teenage daughter attacked by a stranger. But I restrained myself. I did not assault this man, and neither did my son. That is a lie. Nor did I know the man was gay or Latino, not that it would have mattered. What happened on October 13 has nothing to do with identity politics. It was a grotesque violation of decency. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”

May 8, 2018

FaceBook Fired Employees Who Try To Stop "Fake News"

Adam Schrader arrived for his secret job at Facebook one Friday morning in late August 2016 without realizing that his hours there were numbered.
After taking the elevator to the seventh floor of the social media giant’s gleaming office in lower Manhattan, the former Dallas Morning News community publication editor strode by inspirational posters, white desks and then by TVs that blared the latest news from the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Having completed his daily trek to his workspace in the former Wanamaker department store overlooking Broadway in lower Manhattan, Schrader took his place among a crew of contractors who had been sworn to secrecy over the existence of their jobs.
Their role? To authenticate and select “trending” news stories for display to hundreds of millions of Facebook users who encountered the items whenever they logged on. The team of about 25 news curators primarily consisted of journalists skilled in the art of determining source credibility, ascertaining truth and applying news judgment.
They had an early window into Facebook’s grisly underworld — a vortex of fabricated news stories and highly distorted partisan content.
“We had a backside view of what people are talking about outside of our own Facebook bubbles," Schrader said.
Every day, the curators sought to contain the inferno of deception by dousing the blaze with journalistic sensibility, ensuring false and extremely skewed stories did not reach the trending topics list for the entire nation to see.
Fearnow said the curators shielded the public from a “bombardment of fake news.”
Plans to hide the curators imploded in early May 2016 when tech blog Gizmodopublished stories revealing the secret team’s existence and alleging that the curators “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers.”
The claim drew intense criticism from conservatives, prompting U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) to fire off a letter demanding accountability.
Facebook executives panicked. The accusations threatened their priority of keeping people of all political persuasions clicking, sharing, posting, scrolling, and commenting. Any perception that Facebook was biased could have undermined the company’s carefully manicured reputation for political neutrality.
It was particularly ironic that the news curators were battling deception in a complex that once housed John Wanamaker’s department store. Wanamaker is regarded for having printed an advertisement in 1874 that introduced the concept of “truth in advertising,” which “earned him the public’s trust,” according to PBS.
But the retail legend’s heritage as a purveyor of truth was not top of mind when the news curators received an ominous message at about 4 p.m. Aug. 26, 2016.
“There’s an email saying, 'Hey we’re going to have a meeting in the boardroom upstairs,’” Schrader said.
After gathering together, the curators were summarily informed that they had all been fired.
“They literally had security escort us out of the building almost immediately after we were told that we were let go,” Schrader said.
Although political consternation over the trending-news team had already died down, Facebook had still decided in the weeks following the controversy that it was ready to hand the verification process over to technology—as it had long planned
The move reflected a bet on technology over human journalists. Yet two months earlier CEO Mark Zuckerberg had publicly acknowledged that the company’s artificial intelligence capability remained limited.
“There are millions of posts, right, that are available for you that people share publicly every day,” he told investors in June 2016. “And right now, we don’t understand the meaning of those posts.” 
The bloodletting of the curators brought into full view the sharp cultural conflict between Silicon Valley and the news industry. Whereas professional, mainstream journalists have historically taken responsibility for selecting, reporting, and presenting accurate information to the public — at least in the post–Vietnam War era — Facebook has delegated that responsibility to powerful algorithms and sterile digital platforms, retaining scarcely any hands-on role in discriminating based on legitimacy, meaning, quality, and impact.
Facebook did not agree to interviews for this book after multiple requests.
Facebook has repeatedly pledged since the election to combat bogus stories and play a more active role in promoting authentic content — with executives suddenly acknowledging that the company could no longer sit on the sidelines. But the former curators were skeptical that much would change in the long run.
“People cannot function without Facebook. I’ve even tried,” Schrader said. “I’ve tried deleting my Facebook account several times over the years. It’s just— in this day and age, until Facebook gets replaced by something else—it is the most efficient way to communicate with businesses, with news publishers, with your friends, with your family. And Facebook knows that they don’t really have to change. They’re so big now that nothing can touch them. They’re untouchable. So it’s easier for them to lay off 25 journalists than it is to acknowledge the problem and move forward appropriately.” 
Facebook’s dismissal of the news curators — although limited in its long-lasting effects — was a microcosm of a much broader issue. It symbolized a wholesale shift that was already well underway across society—a transfer of trust from news professionals to secretive algorithms and ideologically motivated groups. The resulting upheaval has gravely undermined our collective grasp of reality.
“What I thought was weird was that people were more up in arms about this ‘group of liberal journalists’ dictating their stories than they were about four engineers in a room in Menlo Park who are creating this algorithm that is inevitably deciding what you would see—what anyone would see,” Fearnow said, referring to the California town where Facebook is headquartered.
“How is that not scarier—that these unnamed engineers at Facebook are the ones who are the gatekeepers to how this works? The culture at Facebook is, the engineers there are like the editors. They’re like God—because no one really knows what . . . they do.”
 Reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey. His book is available in hardcover and e-book from Prometheus Books and in audiobook from Penguin Random House.
 These excerptsis adapted from USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey's new book, After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump, a nonpartisan analysis exploring society's increasingly tenuous commitment to the facts.  

April 13, 2018

These Are The Facts To See If, Fake News Helped Give Us Donald Trump?

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate Committee on Wednesday, he led off with a mea culpa. Just a few paragraphs into his opening statement, he took personal responsibility for the disinformation: 
After the 2016 election, many feared that fake news articles spread on Facebook swayed the results of the election. It's a broad but reasonable leap to make: many purveyors of fake news aimed to help Trump win, and lo and behold, Trump won.
But among people who study fake news, it's not at all clear how much — if at all — those articles swayed the election. 
With that in mind, here's a look at several facts we do know about the role fake news played in the 2016 election. It's by no means an exhaustive review of all the studies done on fake news since the election, but it is a start at digging into the complicated factors at play here.
1. Social media heavily drove fake news
Social media plays a bigger role in bringing people to fake news sites than it plays in bringing them to real news sites. More than 40 percent of visits to 65 fake news sites come from social media, compared to around 10 percent of visits to 690 top US news sites, according to a 2017 study by researchers from NYU and Stanford.
And another study suggests Facebook was a major conduit for this news. The more people used Facebook, the more fake news they consumed, as Princeton's Andrew Guess, Dartmouth University's Brendan Nyhan, and the University of Exeter's Jason Reifler found.  
That study also found that Facebook was "among the three previous sites visited by respondents in the prior 30 seconds for 22.1 percent of the articles from fake news websites we observe in our web data." But it was only in the prior sites visited for around 6 percent of real news articles.
2. Fake news had a wide reach
More than one-quarter of voting-age adults visited a fake news website supporting either Clinton or Trump in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, according to estimates from Guess and his co-authors. That information was gleaned from a sample of more than 2,500 Americans' web traffic data collected (with consent) from October and November of 2016.
Some posts, in particular spread, especially far: In the months leading up to the election, the top 20 fake news stories had more shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook (8.7 million engagements) than the 20 top hard news stories (7.3 million engagements), according to a Buzzfeed analysis.
Importantly, this doesn't mean that fake news itself had a broader reach than hard news. Indeed, in either category, 20 stories are just a tiny slice of a gigantic universe of news stories.
"There is a long tail of stories on Facebook," a Facebook spokesman told BuzzFeed. "It may seem like the top stories get a lot of traction, but they represent a tiny fraction of the total."
It does, however, show on a basic level that millions of people interacted with these kinds of stories.
3. ... but it appears a small share of people read a large share of the fake news
Only an estimated 10 percent of Americans account for nearly 60 percent of visits to fake news sites, according to that study from Princeton's Guess and his co-authors. Not only that, but that 10 percent is the 10 percent of people with the "most conservative information diets."
That suggests that, at least as far as reading fake news articles goes, fake news may have served largely to influence already-decided voters. One could reasonably assume that those one-in-ten uber-conservative people who read the most fake news stories were unlikely to ever vote for Clinton.
Perhaps relatedly, Guess and his co-authors also found that fake news articles were heavily pro-Trump: People saw an average of 5.45 fake news articles during the month-and-a-half-long study...and that 5.00 of those articles were pro-Trump. (But once again, extremes make averages; a small share of heavy fake-news readers drove that average up.)
4. People are bad at remembering fake news (or, more precisely, they're good at misremembering it)
Sure, maybe one-quarter of Americans saw a fake news story...but did it stick? One early-2017 study cast doubt on this. In it, researchers from NYU and Stanford presented people with a series of fake news headlines, as well as a series of fake-fake news headlines (that is, headlines the researchers made up).
Fifteen percent of respondents said they recalled seeing the "real" fake news headlines, and eight percent said they believed the headlines. But then, 14 percent said they remembered the fake fake news headlines, and eight percent likewise said they believed those headlines.
That result could mean that a sizable chunk of Americans are so set in their beliefs that they are easily convinced of falsehoods, as the New York Times's Neil Irwin wrote:
Indeed, the authors found that "Democrats and Republicans, respectively, are 17.2 and 14.7 percentage points more likely to believe ideologically aligned articles than they are to believe nonaligned articles."
That doesn't mean fake news swung the election; the authors are careful to say that their study doesn't show that. But it is further evidence of how susceptible people are to believing ideas they already want to believe.
5. Fake news studies have important caveats
OK, pretty much every study has an important caveat and fake news studies are no different. Any time there's a headline saying that a study shows that fake news did or did not sway the election, there's probably some sort of mitigating information to consider.
For example: That study from Gross and his co-authors was taken by many to have meant that fake news had "little impact." But it's more complicated than that.
The study found that a small number of people clicked on a lot of fake news stories, and that fake news stories are also a small fraction of most people's information diets.
But people encounter fake news in other ways. As Slate's Morten Bay pointed out, "The study had an important limitation: It looked only at Facebook users who actually clicked on one of the fake news links littering their news feeds during the election."
In other words, headlines whizzing past you on Facebook — not just the articles you end up clicking on — may well be affecting how you think about politics.
(And while some news coverage may have overstated the findings of the study, the authors themselves told Slate that they "did not measure how much fake news affected an individual's opinions about the election or whether fake news affected the outcome of the election.")
Likewise, in a recent study from Ohio State University, the authors say that their data "strongly suggest...that exposure to fake news did have a significant impact on voting decisions."
That study looked at the survey responses from 585 people who claimed to be Obama 2012 voters. This survey was conducted in December 2016 and January 2017.
Among other survey questions, the authors included three fake news statements that had been widely circulated during campaign 2016 — two negative statements about Clinton and one positive statement about Trump.
They found that "belief in these fake news stories is very strongly linked to defection from the Democratic ticket by 2012 Obama voters."
The authors control for as many variables as possible (ideology, education, attitudes toward Trump and Clinton, social media usage), but importantly, they do not have direct evidence that respondents were exposed to these fake news stories before they voted.
And other researchers are skeptical as well. Dartmouth University Political Science Professor Brendan Nyhan (also one of Guess' co-authors) noted, asking people about their beliefs after the election presents its own problems: "[C]orrelations with post-hoc self-reported beliefs [do not equal] evidence of causal effects for vote choice or turnout," he tweeted.
The study suggests that self-reported Obama-to-Trump voters could have been more susceptible to believing fake news stories. However, as the authors themselves write, there's no way, using this data, to prove that fake news caused some voters to swing from Obama to Trump.
6. There are many potential impacts of fake news that go well beyond determining the results of the 2016 election.
Even if (if) it's true that fake news didn't swing the 2016 election, that doesn't mean fake news isn't still worrisome.
"It can confuse people, it can turn people off from politics — it can have a lot of negative effects that we're only beginning to understand," Guess said in an interview.
For example, it's still troubling if fake news convinces people at the extreme liberal or conservative end of the spectrum of things that aren't true — even if it doesn't change their votes.
And there is evidence that fake news is effective at changing beliefs. One 2017 studyfrom researchers at Yale University found that the more people were exposed to a given fake news statement, they more they believed it.
That's good news for fake news writers and the creators of Russian bots and hypothetical 400-lb. hackers in New Jersey. If it's true that showing people the same headline multiple times makes them believe it, all fake news purveyors need to do is be persistent — and hope that they continue to have platforms like Facebook for posting the things they make up. 

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