Sean Hannity, Fake Internet News and You

How to get an internet lie to the masses, in a few easy steps.

There are many items in Farhad Manjoo‘s column on truth, lies and the internet that could force you, us, anyone, into an almost unrecoverable state of digital existential despair. You can read it and weep for our collective turn from knowledge and all that here.

But there was also a serendipitous bit of contextualization, care of Sean Hannity, for Manjoo’s point on “lies as an institution:”

There are now entire sites whose only mission is to publish outrageous, completely fake news online (like real news, fake news has become a business). Partisan Facebook pages have gotten into the act; a recent BuzzFeed analysis of top political pages on Facebook showed that right-wing sites published false or misleading information 38 percent of the time, and lefty sites did so 20 percent of the time.

“Where hoaxes before were shared by your great-aunt who didn’t understand the internet, the misinformation that circulates online is now being reinforced by political campaigns, by political candidates or by amorphous groups of tweeters working around the campaigns,” said Caitlin Dewey, a reporter at The Washington Post who once wrote a column called “What Was Fake on the Internet This Week.”

You can add Sean Hannity to that list. On his radio show Wednesday, Hannity shared a fabricated story claimed Michelle Obama deleting tweets about Hillary Clinton. “The deleted-tweets claim could have been disproven by a quick Twitter search,” writes Brian Stelter in his account of the incident. Could have, but weren’t.

Stelter asked Hannity to respond, which he did, in a perfect illustration of Manjoo’s point:

I received an e-mail LIVE ON THE AIR that linked a Gateway Pundit article. I questioned the accuracy of it on the air. I asked my producer on the air if it was true. She said it was. I also received a listener IM saying that they saw the same. Then THE listener mentioned that there was a report about the other 2.

Hannity also apologized on Twitter for his grapevine falsehood.

Based on our reading of Manjoo’s article, it probably won’t make any difference. The fake truth is out there.