Since the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America, liberals have been looking for someone or something to blame. In the midst of much handwringing, fake news, and social media’s role in spreading it, has been identified as a culprit, with one underlying premise being that conservatives are more liable to be caught in the net of fake news due to their ideological rather than fact-based media consumption habits.
“Fake stories about Hillary Clinton being a murderer emerged from a long legacy of right-wing media that has long pushed against established norms of journalism to spread fear and distrust,” wrote Vox’s Jason Mittell and Chuck Tryon. “Fake news has always been much more of an issue for conservatives,” argued Salon’s Matthew Sheffield, citing Cold War-era right-wing conspiracy theorizing. The New Republic’s Jeet Heer, meanwhile, wrote that the real problem was not the fake news itself, but the “partisan appetite for validating narratives that caused the spike in popularity for fake news,” specifically the motivated reading of those on the right. And one of the biggest proliferators of fake news told the Washington Post that he specifically targeted Trump voters because he felt they were more gullible. He’s not alone: A BuzzFeed analysis found that 38 percent of posts from three large right-wing politics pages featured “false or misleading information,” compared to 20 percent from three large left-wing pages.
Yes, fake news is a real problem, as is the willingness of so many people to believe it (especially if it supports what they want to think). But it's not all on the right. Yes, the right wing sites post more fake news than the left wing sites, but the left is far from innocent here.
Just in the past few days, I recall reading about Ivanka having said she'd mace Trump if he weren't her father (false) and saw several comments repeating the long-debunked claim that Trump told People magazine that if he were going to run, he'd do it as a Republican because Republicans are so gullible.
All of us, left, right, green, purple, or independent, need to do a better job of researching things we read, especially if they're from partisan sites.