Over the last two years, the press has played into the hands of insurgent political groups like the pro-Trump media and the alt-right’s trolling efforts. In 2017, 60 Minutes and the New York Times were bested by a pro-Trump Twitter personality. NBC News and Megyn Kelly allowed Alex Jones and Infowars to steamroll them in what became a weeklong embarrassing troll that ended with Kelly getting scooped on her own interview. Around the holidays, the New York Times published a sympathetic profile of a neo-Nazi. None of this is new; 2016 was arguably worse. Kremlin-linked troll accounts on Twitter duped 3,000 global news outlets into thinking they were real Americans, embedding their tweets into more than 11,000 news articles in the months before the 2016 election.
Throughout each flub, the legacy media largely adhered to the traditional rules of newsgathering, many of which assume a (mostly) good faith effort on both the part of the interviewer and interviewees. But this tactic proves disastrous against entities like the alt-right, pro-Trump media, and many of the lawmakers who’ve joined Trump in his chants of “fake news,” who delight in subverting traditional media in any way possible.
As the last two years have shown, the #MAGA style of politics is less an ideology than it is about breaking the system through an insurgent style of media hacking and alternate-reality creation.