Requiem for a narrative: eight years of fake news

The nature of our politics today—and perhaps immemorially—is that every ambitious mayor or governor of a state feels the need to create a narrative of success…. If the reality matches the narrative, so much the better—but you won’t find too many politicians admitting that things haven’t improved, or that they have actually grown worse. Obama and his aides certainly weren’t big on admitting shortcomings, and after the electoral wipeout they have just suffered, it looks like their most lasting impact will be to have discredited the word “narrative” among a large portion of Americans. That’s something, I guess.

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“Fake news” is becoming a catch-all explanation for Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss. Voters didn’t trust Hillary, and didn’t appreciate the great deal they were getting from Obama, because of right-wing lies. The problem with this explanation is that it was hardly necessary for Russian troll farms to sow distrust about the Obama administration, when the administration (not to mention the Clinton campaign!) was itself such a relentless and strategic purveyor of half-truths and convenient omissions.

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