The recent North Dakota Crash is representative of all that is wrong with our current political environment. According to a recent Chapman University poll, 25 percent of those who were asked agreed—and another 7.5 percent strongly agreed—that the government is concealing what they know about the incident.
Here’s the problem: The North Dakota Crash isn’t a real thing. The Chapman poll referenced above is their annual Survey of American Fears, which measures the level of belief in nine different conspiracy theories. This year, they threw in a non-existent scandal to gauge how people would respond to something that sounded “vaguely ominous”. Sure enough, 33% of the respondents took the bait.
The survey results were posted on October 11, smack in the the home stretch of the election. Which means that the survey was most likely conducted this past summer, while the two party conventions were taking place. The link above is an incredibly compelling read (as are the very limited number of comments on the article), and NYMAG.COM’s analysis of the survey is also interesting. Both the survey and the article illustrate how easy it is to distribute what has become known as “fake news”: all you have to do is write something that has enough in it to interest a certain group. In the case of the North Dakota Crash, that would be conspiracy theorists, “Big Government” skeptics, or people who are simply not fans of the current administration. During the election, we had plenty of fake news about Hillary Clinton, culminating in the pizzagate doozy.
Fake news like this forces the consumer to do the research, and as we have seen, many people just aren’t motivated to do that. And today’s revelation that the US intelligence agencies presented evidence to both Trump and President Obama indicating that Russia has intel on Trump that they could use to blackmail him is the next step in the evolution of this phenomenon: Trump’s Twitter reaction:
So… fake news essentially helped this clown get elected – well, along with the true news that Russia took a real special liking to him (because they had the goods on him), but leaks about his penchant for hookers and golden showers are “fake news” and a witch hunt.
The 18 -month Trump presidency is going to be a nightmare. The Pence presidency is going to be even worse.