Guardian reporter, Carole Cadwalladr, put “mainstream media is…” into a google search and it suggested the following auto-completions: dying, fake, dead, fake news, propaganda. Her top search result in Google for “mainstream media is dead”, was an article entitled ‘The Mainstream media are dead’ on CNSnews.com.
Reference: Carole Cadwalladr. ‘Robert Mercer: The Big Data Billionaire Waging War on Mainstream Media.’ The Guardian. 26 February 2017.
How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center, which a click later I learn is “America’s media watchdog”, an organisation that claims an “unwavering commitment to neutralising left-wing bias in the news, media and popular culture”. Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.
While there has been much focus on fake news invented or spread by Macedonian teenagers, there is a "constant feed of confected scares about unions, tax and regulation drummed up by groups that won’t reveal their interests.”
Similarly the focus on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election has distracted from the role of US-based fake news generation. A study by researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT found that during that election, "while liberal or pro-Clinton users linked primarily to articles from mainstream news outlets, pro-Trump audiences spent almost all of their time linking to alternative sites like Breitbart, many of which didn’t even exist during the previous election" (see map below).
© 2017 Sharon Beder