We are living in a make-believe world. From fake development, to fake religion and fake politics, Kenyans have perfected the art of living a lie. Today, only a fool takes what he sees, hears, or even tastes at face value! Therefore, it sounds like a misnomer to talk about “fake news” in our society.
Well, it is only recently that the term gained popularity with the heated US presidential elections. President Donald Trump, then the Republican Party nominee, kept accusing America’s “fake news” media – print, electronic or online – of manipulating facts to malign his name.
To date he has tweeted at least 61 times about the fake news media. His latest tweet: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is “sick.” All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!” Well, you be the judge!
Fake news has been termed as a type of yellow journalism, an orientation which is based on sensationalism and crude exaggeration in order to increase the size of audiences. This kind of misleading news is aimed at achieving certain political, financial, and even social outcomes. Of course, this is bad for the media of any country, more so mainstream media, as it undermines the sector’s credibility as a source of genuine information.
At home, we also have our version of this media fakery! According to a report released yesterday titled, “The Reality of Fake News in Kenya”, 90 per cent of Kenyans have encountered fake news around the 2017 General Election. Released by strategic communications consultancy firm Portland and pollsters GeoPoll, the report says that almost half of Kenyans are unable to get credible mews on the August 8 elections.
Indeed, this fear is confirmed by the no-show in both the presidential and their running mates for the planned media debates. The underlying question then is to interrogate the impact such an eventuality has on the choices the masses make at the ballot. While both sides of the political divide are engaged in massive propaganda and misinformation campaigns, who stands to gain most in selling lies?