Opinion | Worry About Facebook. Rip Your Hair Out in Screaming Terror About Fox News. – The New York Times

I understand the fear about digital fakery. But to focus on Facebook instead of Fox News is to mistake the symptom for the disease.

The disease is an entrenched, well-funded, decades-in-the-making, right-wing propaganda network, one that exists to turn faintly sourced rumors into full-blown, politically convenient narratives. The propaganda network’s tentacles now infiltrate every form of media — magazines, books, talk radio, social networks — but it still finds its most profitable and effective outlet in the Murdochs’ cable empire.

And it is devastatingly effective: Just about every political lie that has dominated American discourse in the past two decades — the Swift Boaters and the birthers, death panels, the idea that undocumented immigrants pose an existential threat but climate change does not — depended, for its mainstream dissemination, on the Fox News machine.

This makes sense when you look into the scholarship on misinformation. As Brendan Nyhan of the University of Michigan has pointed out, while it’s reasonable to worry about lies online, what we should really be up in arms about are the lies of “elites” — politicians, anchors, pundits and their spin doctors — who transform latent misinformation into comprehensive narratives of untruth.

Not that this is a comforting thought; in fact, it makes the whole problem a bit hopeless, because what are we going to do about Fox News? Aside from Elizabeth Warren — who has a plan to limit the power of Fox, as she has a plan for everything (a caveat that is becoming a regular occurrence in my columns) — few on the left bother anymore to even mention the scourge it poses, because it’s all so obvious: Fox is fake, water is wet.

But we should not grow inured to this. Because if we give up expecting truth from Fox, there’s little point expecting it on Facebook, either.

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