Mimicking Trump, local officials use 'fake news' as a weapon

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Mimicking Trump, local officials use 'fake news' as a weapon
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2018, file photo, Gov. Paul LePage delivers the State of the State address to the Legislature at the State House in Augusta, Maine. President Trump’s campaign to discredit the news media has spread to state and local officials, who are echoing his use of the term “fake news” as a weapon against unflattering stories and information that can tarnish their images. LePage, the vice chairman of Trump’s now-disbanded voter fraud commission, a New Mexico congressional candidate and the Georgia secretary of state are among the many politicians who have used the term in recent months in response to news reporting. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

President Trump’s campaign to discredit the news media is spreading to officials at all levels of government. Many of them are echoing his use of the term “fake news” as a weapon against unflattering stories.

The term has become a signal to a politician’s supporters to ignore legitimate reporting and as a smear of the press corps.

In Idaho, for example, a state lawmaker has urged her constituents to submit entries for her own “fake news awards.”

The Kentucky governor tweeted #FAKENEWS to dismiss questions about his purchase of a home from a supporter.

Experts on the press and democracy say the cries of “fake news” could do long-term damage by sowing confusion and contempt for journalists. It also undermines the media’s role as a watchdog on government and politicians.

One of a package of stories marking Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of access to public information.