Politifact's Lie Of The Year... And The Winner Is... Fake News?

In 2013 the Lie of the Year was “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” by Barack Obama. At least according to Politifact. Based on the results of this election cycle, I think that lie was one that came back to bite the Democrats in ways they hadn’t imagined.


Last year, Politifact awarded the Lie of the Year to then GOP Candidate, Donald Trump. They weren’t able to narrow it down to just one statement though, they instead gave his “campaign statements” the blanket award.

This year’s lie of the year, what PolitFact calls, “- the most significant falsehood of 2016, as chosen by our editors and reporters.” was announced on MSNBC’s Meet The Press Daily with Chuck Todd.

The Lie of the Year is… Fake News. The irony is not lost on me that the media is awarding “Fake News” the lie of the year. Politifact goes on MSNBC, (home of Brian Williams) to give “Fake News” itself, in total, the dubious honor, based on a study done by Buzzfeed. You can’t make this up.

The Tampa Bay Times has the story:

Because of its powerful symbolism in an election year filled with rampant and outrageous lying — PolitiFact is naming Fake News the 2016 “winner.”

Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as its word of the year and defined it as the state of affairs when “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Fake news is the boldest sign of a post-truth society. When we can’t agree on basic facts — or even that there are such things as facts — how do we talk to each other?


They still lay out some whoppers, with friendly words for Hillary’s lies and less friendly for Trump’s:

The PolitiFact staff debated a number of other specific claims as possible lies of the year. (Our annual poll of readers showed they were sick of the whole election. Readers voted the 2016 election itself as the biggest falsehood of the year.)We considered Clinton’s defensive statements about her emails. She said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private email server while secretary of state. That was False; some classified material did end up there.

She said that FBI director James “Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.” Pants on Fire. Comey called her actions careless and was careful not to endorse her comments.

As for Trump, who took Lie of the Year honors in 2015 for his body of work, there were many possibilities. Since the Tampa Bay Times started PolitiFact in 2007, no other major politician has a worse record for accuracy, with more than 70 percent of his claims rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

This year’s unfounded Trump claims included:

• That he opposed the war in Iraq before it started. This is False, even though he made the claim again and again.

• That widespread voter fraud is happening in the United States. This is Pants on Fire; both Democratic and Republican election officials say it’s not true. Trump said it during the election when he was down in the polls, and he said it after he won, too.

• That Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Pants on Fire. Trump seems to have gotten this one from a report in the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer.

On Election Day, when asked if Trump was honest and trustworthy, 64 percent of voters said no, according to exit polls. But when asked if Clinton was honest and trustworthy, voters were almost equally dubious; 61 percent said no.


So there you have it, the big news of the year was a lie. Or so says the media. Citing, blaming, or invoking the term Fake News is all the rage right now but, perhaps worse than that, actually reading, believing, and sharing false, misleading and fake news (from any and all sources) has been rampant and habitual all year. Maybe this will put at least a small damper on it.

What made 2016 the worst year for “Fake News”? There were the Conspiracy Theories, the propaganda, the bias and the bull. It really was a banner year for the media, when people trust Alex Jones as much as they do the nightly news.

And as we’ve all seen, “Fake News” has become the go to scapegoat for “Why Hillary Lost” thinkpieces from her loyal subjects. Suddenly the same people who cheer “The Daily Show” are very concerned about the impact of “Fake News”.

The truth is, the big problem we face isn’t “Fake News” it’s that people believe it. We have a lack of critical thinking in this country and our intellectual curiosity is reserved for other hobbies. We as Americans have become lazy news consumers, we know we can’t trust the media to give us the whole story, but in 2016 we learned we couldn’t trust the media at all. We recognize it, unfortunately it doesn’t seem that the Media does.



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