'Fake news' was around before Donald Trump was even born


Eight years before Donald Trump was even born, there was a “fake news” complaint that reverberated far and wide across the land.

We see fake news as a new phenomenon, and while the concept might be ancient, the phrase at least is a product of current political times.

Trump uses it almost every day to criticise his opponents and the media, and we even heard the term from the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But it's possible you may be comforted by the fact that fake news was also a problem in 1939.

Journalist Etan Smallman shared a newspaper clipping from the Daily Mail, exactly 78 years ago today.

Under the headline: MP brings charge of “fake” news, the article starts:

Mr J Morris asked the Prime Minister in the commons this afternoon if he was 'aware that certain organs of the press during the past few years had continuously published alarming statements regarding the international situation, which in many cases, were grossly exaggerated and in others false'.

It goes on to say:

Would Mr Chamberlain consider introducing legislation imposing penalties upon ‘the publication of demonstrably fake news, which resulted in causing anxiety and loss to business community, the Stock Exchange and the general public’.

Prime Minister Chamberlain is reported to have replied:

The Foreign Secretary and I have on a number of occasions emphasised the importance of restraint on the part of the Press in dealing with foreign affairs -- a view fully shared by ths more responsible newspapers in this country.

He goes on to point out:

I trust their influence may be sufficient to keep the undesirable practice referred to in check.

Certainly a more measured response than Mr Trump's declaration that the media were the 'enemies of the people'.

More: Here are all the major news agencies Donald Trump has called 'fake news'

More: Fake news isn't a new concept - Hitler called it 'lügenpresse'

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