‘Nothing on this page is real’


Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in The Washington Post. Reprinted with permission.

The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed. He logged onto his website and began to invent his first news story of the day.

“BREAKING,” he wrote, pecking out each letter with his index fingers as he considered the possibilities. Maybe he would announce that Hillary Clinton had died during a secret overseas mission to smuggle more refugees into America. Maybe he would award President Donald Trump the Nobel Peace Prize for his courage in denying climate change.

Blair had launched his website on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign as a practical joke among friends — a political satire site started by Blair and a few other liberal bloggers who wanted to make fun of what they considered to be extremist ideas spreading throughout the far right. In the past two years on his page, America’s Last Line of Defense, Blair had made up stories about California instituting sharia, former President Bill Clinton becoming a serial killer, undocumented immigrants defacing Mount Rushmore, and former President Barack Obama dodging the Vietnam draft when he was 9.

“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, amassing an audience of as many as six million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker.

Blair’s own reality …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics

      

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