In a post-fact landscape, Trump’s highly effective swipes at “fake news” have repurposed a venerable leftist critical tradition into a political bludgeon to which progressives have no real answer, other than to defend a handful of corporate entities as torchbearers of democracy and consensual factual reality. What is needed is an approach that speaks to the real problem, which is that the relentless expansion of capitalized digital media (including but not limited to ‘the news’) is deeply anti-social, and thus anti-democratic. This is a position that spans our political and class spectrum in unexpected ways, as I examine in this article. Ironically, a renewed leftist skepticism of ‘the media’ is thus both necessary to our moment, and potentially an interesting point of political convergence.
I worked as a community and political organizer in Wayne County, Michigan, during the 2016 election. Frustrated by the ignorance and outright dismissal of grassroots strategies by various interest groups and individuals with stakes in the election, I decided to focus my emergent doctoral research on the implications of grassroots organizing in conflict and coordination with other modes of political action.