The Czech Republic’s “fake news” scene

After 18 total days on the road, 10 of which were election-related, I’m finally back in Berlin and staying put for a bit. My most recent stop: Prague for five days, to write about the Czech elections held last Friday and Saturday.

It’s hard to talk about Czech politics and the Czech political scene without looking at the vibrant “fake news” and disinformation scene. That was the focus of my piece from Prague, looking at the landscape of such sites — one of which, the Breitbart-esque Parlamentní listy, gets an estimated 8 million monthly visitors — as well as their potential impact on the political scene. While most people I talked to didn’t believe “fake news” actually persuaded voters to vote a certain way, these sites certainly do help reinforce anti-establishment views in people who are already prone to them. And given that anti-establishment parties got almost 60 percent of the vote in this weekend’s elections — including nearly 30 percent for populist-leaning businessman Andrej Babiš and his ANO (“YES”) party — anything that helped reinforce people’s beliefs on this front seems significant.

Prague was my last stop on the European campaign trail for a while — apart from elections in Iceland next weekend, which I’m sadly not planning to cover in person, there’s a bit of an election lull coming up. Stay tuned for some overall thoughts on trends and themes from Europe this year; and in the meantime, you can read my story from Prague here.

A view of Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge at sunset