Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS News investigative reporter, who now works for Sinclair Broadcasting Group, sat down with the Hollywood Reporter for an interview about the American media, and how the term “fake news” evolved.
So where did the term come from?
The first time it came on my radar was when President Obama talked about it in a speech where he talked about the need to curate news. At the time, nobody was demanding that. It wasn’t a grassroots movement, so there had to be a reason for him mentioning it. Sure enough, something that no one was paying attention to was suddenly in headlines every day, as if the media had its marching orders. Then Hillary Clinton picked it up, and David Brock announced his cause celebre was to go after fake news. Later, Brock told donors he was largely behind the effort to get Facebook to curate news. Then I found that the idea to curate news came from a nonprofit group.
First Draft. I first looked for their nonprofit papers to see where their funding came from, but I couldn’t find any papers, so I called them. They said they were calling themselves nonprofit but hadn’t received nonprofit status yet. They were very nice. They told me they were started in the U.K. at the beginning of the last election cycle with money primarily from Google, whose parent company, Alphabet, is run by an ardent Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporter. (THR reached out to Google and Alphabet, but they were unavailable for comment).
You put it all together and it looks like the rollout of a propaganda campaign. But what I saw happen was Donald Trump, being the wild card, co-opted the phrase, “fake news,” doing something they didn’t predict that he would or could do. Now, a lot of people think Trump invented or popularized that phrase when in fact it came from the left.
What else did First Draft do?
They’re the same group that picked the curators. They partnered with liberal organizations and so-called mainstream press and, of course, no conservative organizations. Then the examples of fake news they used were all conservative news stories. And that does exist, but there’s also examples of liberal fake news, which they didn’t seem interested in. (THR reached out to First Draft, but it was unavailable for comment).
Read the full interview at Hollywood Reporter