Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Emboldened by the Brexit vote the closeted bigots are taking to the streets and assaulting fragile people because of their colour, their religion or their political allegiance. Or are they? The reporting of ‘hate crimes’ may be at an all-time hysterical high but given that a hate crime is classified as such by those who report it, does the reporting match reality in any way. Also, in the wake of the Trump victory people are taking to social media to report in unconvincing terms, incidents that ‘literally’ never happened. But then, that’s social media for you.
And then there’s this: According to the yesterday’s newspapers, the impression was given that a leaked cabinet memo decried the government’s unpreparedness for Brexit, stating as if a fact, that another thirty thousand civil servants would need to be recruited just to deal with the admin of leaving the EU. “There you go!” cried the Remainers, “Where’s that £350-million a week for the NHS now, huh?” But hold your horses there, boys and girls; the ‘leaked cabinet memo’ turns out to have been written and speculatively punted by Deloitte and is little more than conjecture.
This may well be explained away as a simple misunderstanding but wait a minute. Nothing gets into the public domain unless it is put there. Yet this was no whistle-blower appalled at impending totalitarian legislation; this was no insider-opposition to a company poisoning the water. Rather it was cynical anti-Brexit mischief, created by exactly the sort of organisation that the public who voted ‘out’ distrust the most; big money, the alchemy by which a few words in a few ears makes $billions for people who already have $billions. The very sort of people who are seen as the establishment’s string-pullers.
We are, it is reported widely, in the era of fake news. Prank sites have been around for years. And pre-internet there were Private Eye and many others who feasted on parody, poked fun at the high and mighty and generally enjoyed a good old belly laugh at the government’s expense. But with the advent of the Internet it is getting harder every day to separate fact from fiction. Hence all the ‘I was attacked by Nazis’ stories being touted as evidence of sinister moves by one side and being ridiculed by the other. A common trope of our times is that everything is ‘divisive’; Brexit, Trump, Labour, Tory, climate change. Of course it is; if opinion wasn’t divided it would be whole and unwholesome – we’d be in N.Korea.
This is absolutely true!
But it turns out that all the fuss is over nothing; the proliferation of fake news sites is click-bait for advertising revenue. Like all such phenomena it will either stand the test of time and be recognised for what it is, or it will eventually fail to amuse and fall out of favour. In the meantime, it is far more informative to look at who is spreading the news and why; without provenance it would be wise to treat every supposed news item as fiction and its promulgators as peddlers of partisan lie. Or maybe, just maybe, the reporting of fake news sites is, itself, fake news. You decide...