Friday, November 25, 2016

A short history of fake news: Conservatives believed all sorts of crap long before Facebook; Salon, 11/25/16

Matthew Sheffield, Salon; A short history of fake news: Conservatives believed all sorts of crap long before Facebook:
"Conspiracy theories have long been popular in book form among conservatives as well. Since the 1950s literally scores of books have been published that promoting the theory that former president Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist or revealing the liberal plan to force all children to become gay and they managed to sell millions of copies over the years.
Most famous of these were probably John A. Stormer’s “None Dare Call It Treason” and Gary Allen and Larry Abraham’s “None Dare Call It Conspiracy,” which spread the John Birch Society’s paranoid message about a worldwide conspiratorial elite of bankers, socialists and Jews. (One could hear strong echoes of the Birch message in Donald Trump’s campaign.)
“These books circulated far more widely than traditional conservative media — there were millions of copies,” said historian Nicole Hemmer, author of the new book “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.”
Like the fake news sites of today, the conspiracy-theory literature that was so popular in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Hemmer said, adopted many of the trappings of more credible publications.
“People saw things as having validity if they had footnotes,” she told Salon, noting “there was a validity in things that were presented as news that’s different from other sources of opinion or entertainment.”"

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