Last year the term “fake news” was elevated from jargon used to describe entertainment like the Onion and the Daily Show; it perhaps deserves political term of the year for 2016. “Fake news” became at first the slur hurled at Breitbart News and the like by the media elite. New York Times editorialists and Buzzfeed editors alike took up arms against the insurgent “Trump Pravda” – as commentator Ben Shapiro refers to Breitbart. This rifle pointed at Trump and his apologists by an increasingly united and militant press backfired directly into their faces. Trump-land embraced the term. Now weaponized, it has been turned back on the media with frenzied, ruthless glee.
Hillary’s debate zingers became fake news. New York Times anonymous sources became fake news. For a couple of days, any negative polls on the travel ban were fake news. This orgy of revenge against the media – which the American right holds to be heavily left-leaning – climaxed with the moment in his first press conference when Trump called the CNN White House Correspondent fake news.
Elite institutions of the American press ended their love affair with Trump as soon as their ratings-hungry obsession with him ensured he would win the GOP nomination. They seamlessly banded together into a monolithically hostile bloc expecting to easily but thoroughly destroy his chances. Since the election, the American press has suddenly rediscovered the rhetoric of its forgotten virtues. These committed leftists and liberals have stashed away their Foucault and aim to reestablish their long-dead allegiance to the concept of objective truth – a mostly right-wing value in this era of intersectionality and safe spaces.
The best analogy for describing their posture as of late is that of an angry mob trying to break down a solid wall and knock Trump off it, either into impeachment or into a mire of unpopularity that destroys his political capital. Unfortunately for them, Trump and Co. are throwing down the damning label of “fake news” from atop the wall, among other things. Those of us who hope for pro-growth economic policies, a speedy return of American leadership in global affairs, and all the other policies that will be stopped if the media succeeds in destroying him have mixed feelings. The rumbling wall seems sturdy enough to outlast the rabid mob below, but the ruckus sure is a big distraction from the policy agenda.
The escalation of the Great Trump-Media War has not been the only major left-wing miscalculation. Punished on Election Day due to their contempt for American values and for their incompetence, among other faults, the Obama-Clinton mafia immediately reintroduced the Russia card into the debate. Perhaps if they had not let this front of their election battle wane in the last few weeks of the cycle, Hillary might have won. Of course, it wouldn’t do to cause too much uproar about Russia when they were so smugly certain that Trump would lose. After all, a truly comprehensive, non-selective investigation into Russian involvement in U.S. politics over the last fifty years would be infinitely more destructive for the Dems than for the GOP. Think about it.
Nevertheless, pushed over the edge by the shock of defeat, they redeployed this line with reckless abandon. Immediately the intelligence community, whose staffing decisions over the last eight years had been made by the Obama administration, became very leaky. If recent history is any indicator, this will turn out to be the crown jewel of the left’s unhinged and self-destructive assaults on the Trump administration’s potential for success. Even if the accusations about Obama illegally bugging Trump Tower turn out to have not one leg to stand on, this moment is reminiscent of the first time that Trump turned the weapon of “fake news” back on his loudest detractors. This round of blowback can take on many forms. First of all, partisans loyal to a former president and disloyal to the current one can and should be removed en masse. Schumer, Pelosi, Obama and the rest of the gang should double-check that there is no dirt under their fingers, as Trump has now returned the favor of accusing them of illegal/treasonous acts. This will be the latest example of the left swinging a hammer at the pillars of established norms, only to get hit by the falling debris.