Courtesy of Frontline:
The rise of online misinformation, shared on social media and designed to stoke fear and inflame divisions, gained major national attention in connection with the 2016 presidential election. Continued blurring of the line between fact and fiction has helped to define the political era that has followed.
But a new FRONTLINE documentary traces the use of online misinformation at high levels of the American political conversation back years further: to Sarah Palin, a former Alaska mayor and the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate.
“She is the first of a generation of politicians who live in a post-truth environment. She was, and there’s no polite way to say it, but a serial liar,” Steve Schmidt, who helped lead John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and pushed him to choose Palin as his running mate, tells FRONTLINE in the upcoming documentary America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump.
“She would say things that are simply not true, or things that were picked up from the Internet,” the former GOP operative, who had also worked as a campaign adviser to President George W. Bush, continues. “And this obliteration of fact from fiction, of truth from lie, has become now endemic in American politics. But it started then.”