“Fake news” is not a particularly new phenomenon in the media landscape. The term, however, has taken on a new set of potential meanings in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election season and subsequent victory of Donald J. Trump. As a result, it has become increasingly necessary to identify the trappings of “fake news” and traverse the varying definitions that arise when it is uttered. With the use of previously conducted studies and rhetorical analysis, an attempt was made at defining these new variations of “fake news.” Subsequently, specific examples of news stories and events were analyzed supporting the formation of these definitions. The latter two pieces of information combined were then used to draw assumptions about the impact of “fake news” on consuming audience members. Three definitions of “fake news” in the contemporary-sense emerged and the impact varied greatly based on the story defined as “fake” and the self-described political affiliation of audience members.
Political Communication, Rhetorical Analysis, Fake News, Donald Trump, Mass Media
2019 Special Focus: The Future of Democracy in the Digital Age
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Specialist Professor, Communication, Monmouth University, United States