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Tyler Cowen

How Real News Is Worse Than Fake News

Too much information can lead to a cynical population that expects little from its leaders.

Disturbingly true.

Disturbingly true.

Photographer: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

As problematic as “fake news” is, and as dangerous as the label can be, maybe “true news” is equally corrosive. The contemporary world is giving us more reality and more truth than we can comfortably handle — and that, as much as the lack of a common enemy since the end of the Cold War, may explain the decline of the liberal world order that I lamented in a recent column.

Fake news, after all, has been with us for a long time, whether in the form of overly optimistic dispatches from the Vietnam War or reports of Paul McCartney’s death. And that’s not counting the under- or unreported stories we now know to be true, on such things as Kennedy’s affairs, Johnson’s corruption or Reagan’s dementia.