The left's intense focus on false news stories exploded in the wake of what seemed like an inexplicable Republican victory in the 2016 election, with Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton despite an avalanche of bad press directed at the former, especially in the final weeks of the campaign. The GOP also unexpectedly retained control of the Senate, winning surprise victories in Wisconsin and Indiana to confound the Democratic Party's advantage in incumbent seats and normal presidential-cycle turnout models.
Attention quickly focused on a BuzzFeed story about traffic generated by stories on Facebook, and how much more popular fake news was over real news. The analysis had significant flaws, however, beginning with the fact that there was no evidence of correlation between Facebook traffic and voting behavior, let alone causation. Furthermore, the top five "real news" articles in the analysis turned out to be four opinion essays opposing Trump and the New York Post's story on Melania Trump's suggestive modeling pictures from two decades earlier.