Donald Trump has a great time calling the likes of CNN and the New York Times fake news – claims that some take more personally than others. While it cannot be denied that those publications have had their fair share of anti-Trump content in recent times, to call the news ‘fake’ is extreme – depending on how you define it. Is it something like The Onion, for example – a site that (for the purpose of satire) deliberately puts out false information.

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Or, is false news stories that were printed in good faith, but turned out to be inaccurate?

The Washington Post’s article on Russian hacking of the Vermont electrical grid, which turned out to be untrue is an example of this. But was the WaPo guilty of ‘fake news’ in this case?

The leaks are real, the news is fake

When President Trump says “the leaks are real, but the news is fake”, is this a contradiction? From the outset it certainly does seem to be.

However, if we assume for this example that the leaks actually happened but the content in those leaks were untrue, does that mean it qualifies for this pretty big claim?

The administration have stopped short of accusing journalists of making up sources so while they admit the sources for these stories are real people, does the information itself have to be true for it to avoid being ‘fake news’? Every Trump exaggeration also gets the label, as does any story that doesn’t fit someone’s narrative. Until someone, anyone, sets out exactly what this actually is, this ambiguity will continue to persist.

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Trying To Define 'Fake News'

Media Matters put out a guide on how to differ fact from fiction– ironically the broad symptoms they give of fake news seems to be evident in every single Media Matters article!

The way media are treating Trump has to be one of the things he apparently doesn't enjoy about his new job, but it the stories that are untrue that really get to hm

Fake news is one of two things: either it is articles that are deliberately untrue, or articles written in good faith, that turn out to be false.If we can excuse the latter, sorting out deliberately false from just wrong will be easier to do.

If we continue to call stories where disputed accounts from sources are ‘fake news’ then that is ok – but expect Trump and his critics to continue to throw around the term.

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