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No, President Trump did not engage in inappropriate and disgusting sexual activities in the same hotel bed the Obamas slept on in Moscow. Those claims are simply false. Yet, this suspect story went viral across the United States. The fact that it happened in the fifth-most educated country on planet Earth raises critical questions: What is the cause and who is to blame?

If one were to ask Trump about the cause of the fiasco, he would accuse the story and its publisher (BuzzFeed News) of being “fake news.” Although he would be correct, since the piece was based on incorrect information, the broader trend is more worrisome.

Despite the real, yet minor, presence of actual fake newsgroups, the term “fake news” has been used almost exclusively as an outlet for the allies and administration of President Trump to discredit stories that cast a negative light on them. They have gone so far as to describe credible news sources, such as CNN and the New York Times, as fake news. As one can observe in a discussion of these claims, there is no advantage to blaming the media, as each and every individual is responsible for knowing what is going on in the world around them.

Blaming the media for unfavorable news is not limited to President Trump. In the hearts of Philadelphia and Cleveland last June, Republicans and Democrats alike convened in order to nominate a presidential candidate; on both sides, the media was a frequent scapegoat.

Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, along with Donald Trump, incessantly blasted the “mainstream media” for misrepresenting their campaigns. Sponsored by the Media Research Center, a conservative activist group commonly rose notorious signs proclaiming, “Don’t trust the liberal media!” Despite the whinings of Sanders and Trump about their coverage, a July 2016 study from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University found that the Democratic senator received by far the highest rate of favorable news, at 54%, and the Republican businessman crushed the field with $55 million worth of free broadcasting.

Nevertheless, Sanders was right about one thing: the news networks remain corporate in nature. To understand why this is relevant, one can look at the childish, substanceless Republican debates, which averaged 15.5 million views, compared to the generally more legitimate Democratic ones, which only received 8 million views on average.

Clearly, MSNBC or Fox News, which make money off of viewership, would want to focus more on the Trump-centric Republican debates and on Trump himself. This is the true reason for the results of the Harvard study, not any sort of implicit media bias. Running a business is not a crime, even though Sanders demands “that [the corporate media] start covering the issues that impact our lives” in his recent book. The only way to mandate that the most crucial topics be discussed on television would be through state-sanctioned media, which is already ten feet down the slippery slope of totalitarianism.

Research backs up the idea that the media, however “corporate” or “mainstream” it may be, is not at fault. The same people that Cruz, Sanders, and Trump claim are being deceived are the causes for their own imaginary deception. No one will blame you for being entertained by a Trump speech; it’s far more interesting and less scary, and therefore less important, than hearing about the fragility of financial markets. But blaming others for something that falls squarely on the shoulders of each and every one of us is neither productive nor fair.

No one can rely solely on the television or newspaper for their news, but instead they must take responsibility for understanding current events. The solution to fake news is, and can only be, self-accountability. After all, if you turn the television off, all you’ll see is a reflection of yourself.