The Danger of “Fake News”

Trump is well-known for his infamous “Fake News” rhetoric which he often uses against the mainstream media in an attempt at discrediting their reputation. With the re-emergence of the right-wing populist movement, the significance of the phrase and its meaning  are becoming ever clearer in today’s society. However, many do not know the horrific origin of the phrase.

The phrase “fake news,” became popular during Donald Trump’s election campaign but another political leader used the phrase first. Our current use of “Fake News,” can be irrevocably linked to the German phrase Lugenpresse or “lying press,” which derives from its most popular use of the phrase, as a political strategy used by none other than one of the world’s most brutal dictators in history – Adolf Hitler. Hitler used this tactic to undermine the free press and create a fictional narrative about Germany, which history illustrates is extremely dangerous. By discrediting the media, Hitler could control and curate, print media surrounding him and his reign as chancellor. Using this tactic in combination with oppressive censorship restrictions, Hitler was able to propagate fiction about Jews, which connect to people joining the Nazi political movement.

It is evident therefore the damage the phrase has had in the past yet we must also consider what impact the phrase has in the present and what the phrase will likely mean in the future.

In current times, “Fake News,” is shouted at every Trump rally causing chaos and mayhem. The phrase led to Jim Acosta’s famous expelling from the White House – a constitutional crisis in the United States. With the rise of right-wing nationalism in Europe, we see the phrase being ever increasingly used to spread racist and xenophobic attitudes. With the most specific case being Germany whose Alt-Right Wing part, Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) ,has the second highest power in Germany’s parliament for the first time since The Third Reich.

These considerations inevtiably force usto consider the ramifications of our politicians’ words and the ways the reflect a dangerous couse of action. The need for a shift in rhetoric which promotes democratic deliberation, and  holding governments and media accountable becomes starkingly evident with each reiteration of “Fake News.”