Russiagate, WikiLeaks, and the Political Economy of Posttruth News
Problems of verification surrounded official claims concerning the role of WikiLeaks and Russia vis-à-vis the release of e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Convention before the U.S. federal election of 2016. In addition to the competing conspiracy theories and false stories promoted by fringe elements, major news organizations tailored their reporting to satisfy divergent truth markets. These developments fit with the emergence of a posttruth environment marked by increasingly fragmented media, irreconcilable portrayals of political developments, and widespread distrust of dominant institutions. However, consistent with the findings of past political economy research, most news reporting incorporated a steady stream of propaganda promoted by powerful political interests. Taken together, these realities should be understood as complementary, reflecting evolving institutional and market-driven media strategies aimed at controlling the nature and quality of information regularly made available to the public.