Friday, February 17, 2017

All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

From "The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: the politics of loitering," Susan Buck-Morss:
The flaneur is the prototype of a new form of salaried employee who produces news / literature / advertisements for the purpose of information / entertainment / persuasion (the forms of both product and purpose are not clearly distinguished). These products fill the "empty" hours which time-off from work has become in the modern city. Writers, now dependent on the market, scan the street scene for material, keeping themselves in the public eye and wearing their own identity like a sandwich board.

A salaried flaneur profits by following the ideological fashion. Benjamin connects him ultimately to the police informer and in a late note makes the association: "Flaneur - sandwichman - journalist-in-uniform.The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity." In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate like the 1930s the penalty for a writer's refusal to toe the political line could be great.
The topic of fake news is dear to the Sandwichman to the extent I take my nom de plume from Benjamin's commentary in his notes for the Passagenwerk. The intellectual employee may deny what he or she objectively is -- a salaried thinker -- but cannot escape being one, except by virtue of unemployment.

The spectacle we are currently being entertained by is essentially a turf battle between competing factions of journalist-in-uniform police informers. Are there grounds for critically supporting one faction in its opposition to the other? Yes, there are. The so-called President's objection to fake news is specifically that it is not fake enough -- it does not toe his political line. In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate the penalty for not distinguishing between ideologically-distorted news and politically-dictated news could be great.

4 comments: said...

Oh dear, Sandwichman, given this is where you got your moniker I fear saying anything as this strikes close to home, but I do think you are going overly Pomo here (as one who had his Pomo period).

We can argue about what is "news," but there are facts, and reporting them is at least part of news. Thus, Trump won the electoral college and was inaugurated president. Those are both facts and the reporting of them was news and not fake news. said...

And there really are things that are simply false, never happened, do not exist. A recent example is the "Bowling Green Massacre." Did not happen. Total fantasy. Not only nobody dead, nobody injured, nothing happened. This is really fake news, no quotation marks.

On the broader point that reporting of even bare supposedly simply facts gets larded over with all sorts of crud and ideology and interpretations and filtering, yeah, that is true. That is not fake news. But, there are some objective facts out there and there are some objective lies, and fake news is the "reporting" of the latter.

Sandwichman said...

Oh dear, Barkley, either you are misreading what I wrote or simply extrapolating your own interpretation of the headline. I am saying DISTINCTION between fake news and even faker news is crucial. said...

OK, Sandwichman. Fair enough.