Fake news has not merely become a business but a designation. It is a way of silencing dissent, and questioning accounts. For the authoritarian, this is not merely a delight, but a necessity. News accounts are deemed the stuff and dreams of the inventive, and those inventors deserve punishment.
Denial becomes a state of mind, and a very convinced one at that. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey can say with confidence that the casualties of any military action against the Kurds have been exaggerated. US accounts of the bloody surge in Afrin in February made him seethe. “You don’t feel the tiniest discomfort of the massacre of hundreds of children, women and civilians every day in East Ghouta but you express your annoyance at our fight against terrorists. You are spreading fake news.”
In the era of Donald J. Trump, fake news has become the flipside of reality television, its evil nourishing twin. The more real things are, the less tangibly verifiable they are. Before the camera, and as it floats through the news cycle, all accounts shall be mistrusted. Only the powerful shall have meaning.
It has also become a school of inspiration for such figures as Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia. Knowing that his electoral survival might be in the balance, Najib has decided to influence the course of history.
Malaysia’s electoral boundaries have been redrawn along more amenable racial lines to counter the opposition threat. The number…