Thanks to president Trump, the phrase “Fake News” has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it something new? Is it something pseudo journalists have cooked up, a current conspiracy, to dupe the public? Are we more gullible now than we were in previous times? Strangely, no. The idea of fake news has been around for centuries.
138 years ago one Canadian priest by the name of Fr. Charles Chiniquay, tried his best to promote an outrageous fake news story. He had been a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, who when he was a lawyer, had successfully defended him in a liable suit in Chicago Illinois. In 1858 Fr. Chiniquay left the Catholic Church and joined the Presbyterian Church. After Lincoln was assassinated, he believed and stated that Jesuit priests and the Vatican were the masterminds behind Lincoln’s assassination. Of course facts in stories in credible newspapers debunked this but I’m sure this “plot” appeared true to anyone who had a dislike for Catholicism!
That story has mostly been buried by the passage of time. But just think about the more “recent” assassination of JFK. All the “fake” facts that still float around, all the fake plots that were behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s motivations, live on decades later.
And for how many decades have we had the National Inquirer and newspapers of that ilk, print fake news too outrageous for a sane person to believe? Yet people do think those stories are true. So fake news has been around ever since humankind could talk, ever since the vice of gossip reared its ugly head. It’s just that “Fake News” is a more catchy name for it! I think CBS News This Morning has a great tagline for its show: “More Real News”…as if anyone can tell the difference at 5 am in the morning!