The NPPSH Organising Committee is proud to present, on the second day of our two-day conference, a media plenary featuring a discussion between Dr. Susan Gottlöber of Maynooth University’s Philosophy department, Dr. Gavin Jennings of RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Professor Maria Pramaggiore, Dean of Graduate Studies at Maynooth University and Dr. Sinéad Kennedy of Maynooth University’s English department. The plenary will take place on 11:15 — 12:30 on Friday the 20th of October, and is sure to provoke interesting directions for the discussions around fake news in our contemporary media milieu. The abstract for the discussion follows.
On January 22nd 2017, the US Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, used the phrase “alternative facts” to excuse the misinformation conveyed by then White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, with regard to the attendance figures at Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States. This expression has since become a synecdoche for the tactics Trump deployed throughout his presidential campaign, which was largely characterised by a rhetorical strategy that appealed to emotion, rather than providing details about policy, or at all engaging in factual rebuttals. All this, in addition to his apparent incapacity to refrain from using the term “fake news”, has led many to conclude that Trump stands the very embodiment of the kind of post-factual politics Ralph Keyes identified in his 2004 book The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. Indeed, one might also point to the types of rhetoric used in the run-up to the recent Brexit referendum as evidence to further bolster Keyes’s assessment. But is this idea of “post-truth” truly a contemporary phenomenon? To what extent does it differentiate itself from the kinds of propaganda and “fake news” that have come before? How does this phenomenon manifest itself in contemporary Irish society? And what role is to be played by the humanities in times of propaganda and “fake news”? These are the kinds of questions our panellists will consider in what we are sure will be a thoroughly engaging roundtable event.