“Fake News” Always Plays a Role in Presidential Elections

Lid’sNote: Fred Lucas’ book Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections,”  examines some of the rigged/contested presidential elections in American History. It is a book I enjoyed and recommend to everyone.

Since the election some have complained that “fake news” helped Donald Trump to win the election, and just recently Buzzfeed and CNN got caught reporting “fake news” about President-Elect Trump. As Fred explained in Tainted by Suspicion, and in the post below, “fake news ” in presidential campaigns are almost as old as the presidency itself.

Guest Post By Fred Lucas

Fake news was prevalent during the presidential race, and it might well have influenced the outcome of the election by pushing fear-mongering and conspiracy theories on an unsuspecting electorate that couldn’t discern truth from rumor.

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I’m referring, of course, to the 1800 election.  I won’t bother posing the hyperbolic question of whether democracy and a free press can survive, because obviously both did.  While Federalists and Democratic-Republicans bemoaned the ugly contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, fake news wasn’t a prevailing complaint as it is now.

But, as I point out in Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections, it wasn’t unusual for the news media to report things that weren’t true to advance a political agenda in the early days of political coverage.

It turns out that much of the fake news in 2016 came from Russian propagandists, according to the intelligence report released Friday, to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton.  In 1800, accusations swirled about foreign espionage as well.  Jeffersonians claimed that Adams had conspired to reunite the new country with England, while Federalist warned that Jefferson wanted to turn the country into godless post-revolutionary France…

Read the Rest of the Story at the Lid

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