Yet another “dead” foreign bogeyman shows up on TV

ny post kim jong un dead

After the New York Post article, the fake news spread like wildfire through tabloids from TMZ to the Daily Express, to Metro, to The Sun (UK), to the Toronto Sun, to the Irish Post, and finally, The Mirror.

It was then picked up by numerous local media networks in the United States and other countries.

Next, seemingly “respectable” media groups fueled the fake news frenzy, including the National Interest, the International Business TimesYahoo News, and Foreign Policy.

Neoconservative American politicians pounced on the rumors in predictable fashion. Republican Lindsey Graham, the most fanatically militaristic member of the Senate since the death of his friend John McCain, told Fox News with an air of confidence, “I pretty well believe he [Kim] is dead or incapacitated.”

Graham continued, “I’d be shocked if he’s not dead or in some incapacitated state, because you don’t let rumors like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society, which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea.”

Americans’ gut instincts that the fake news just “feels true,” after decades of consuming a steady diet of loony regime-change rumors, was taken as proof that it must be true.

On Twitter, the hashtag #KimJongunDead went viral as well, and millions of users swallowed the fake news whole.

Next, a photoshopped picture went viral on social media purporting to show Kim dead in a glass coffin. The image was reported on by Western media outlets like The Sun, a tabloid owned by the same right-wing Rupert Murdoch-owned media group that controls the New York Post.

As the fake news spread across the media ecosystem, Western journalists and professional Korea watchers began mulling the possibility that the presumably dead North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, was being groomed to replace him.

Without any solid evidence, dozens of outlets ran stories confidently asserting that Yo-jong was preparing to take her brother’s place. The Daily Beast even published a piece purporting to explain why she is so “feared” in the country.

The Washington Post printed an op-ed by Jung H. Pak, a former senior analyst at the CIA and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, with the title, “Why we shouldn’t rule out a woman as North Korea’s next leader.”

The GuardianForeign Policy, the BBC, the New YorkerTIMEDeutsche WelleThe Australian, and Newsweek all added to the baseless speculation.

While some of these outlets amplified the phony story while feigning a tone of skepticism, VICE News threw all caution out the window. The “hipster arm of the empire” published an article trumpeting, “A Prominent North Korean Defector is ‘99% Certain’ Kim Jong Un Is Dead.” Its source was a defector trained and funded by the NED.

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