Hillary Clinton weighed in on the post-election fury over fake news when speaking at Sen. Harry Reid’s retirement tribute. Since Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory in November, the controversy around fake news and its impact on the election has become a hot-button issue.
Reports have painted a picture of a gullible electorate eager to share sensational and inaccurate stories throughout the election. BuzzFeed reported kids in Macedonia were cashing in, The Washington Post reported Russia was a key player, and MSNBC reported a man in California couldn’t resist the rush driving insane web traffic. But after Clinton decried fake news as an epidemic and having a negative impact on society, many of her harshest critics were quick to call out her hypocrisy.
“It’s now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” Clinton said. “This isn’t about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk, lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”
Clinton’s remarks follow an incident at the Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C. where an armed gunman was investigating a story he saw on social media detailing the Pizza Gate conspiracy theory before his arrest.
“It’s a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly. Bipartisan legislation is making its way through Congress to boost the government’s response to foreign propaganda, and Silicon Valley is starting to grapple with the challenge and threat of fake news. It’s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives.”
Several of Clinton’s critics took to Twitter to remind their followers that Clinton and her campaign have also been involved with spreading misinformation.
Hillary Clinton is concerned about “fake news”.
This is the same woman who claimed the Benghazi attack happened because of a YouTube video.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) December 9, 2016
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) October 11, 2016
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) December 9, 2016
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald published an article challenging Clinton’s role in fake news throughout the election. Citing the Clinton campaign’s tactics to discredit the multiple WikiLeaks releases of hacked emails from John Podesta and an intelligence analyst at MSNBC declaring the emails were doctored, Greenwald is quick to note that the Clinton campaign was directly involved in the spread of fake news.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 7, 2016
MSNBC’s Malcom Nance tweet claiming WikiLeaks was publishing forged emails was shared by MSNBC host Joy Reid, and then David Frum, The Atlantic’s senior editor, told his Twitter followers that Nance is an expert to take seriously. These tweets lead to a viral article with the headline “MSNBC intelligence expert: WikiLeaks is releasing falsified emails not from Hillary Clinton” which accumulated more than 42,000 shares.
“But the problem here goes way beyond mere hypocrisy,” said Greenwald. “Complaints about Fake News are typically accompanied by calls for ‘solutions’ that involve censorship and suppression, either by the government or tech giants such as Facebook.”
“But until there is a clear definition of ‘Fake News,’ and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself.”
The Clinton campaign and Donna Brazile, the DNC chair, floated the idea that the WikiLeaks emails were doctored several times. In an interview with Megyn Kelly in October, Brazile was confronted with the first batch of emails showing Brazile gave the Clinton campaign debate questions ahead of time as a political contributor at CNN.
“I am not going to try and validate falsified information,” Brazile quipped.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) October 23, 2016
On Thursday, Clinton called on Congress to do something about the rise of fake news. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said recently he’ll crack down on fake content and now that Google has pulled its advertising service from fake news sites, Clinton will probably get her wish.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/ Getty Images]