The proliferation of false information and rising distrust in the established news media, due in part to a deliberate campaign of denigration, pose a looming crisis for American democracy and civic life. At a time of domestic political upheaval, sharp policy divisions, and intensifying international conflicts, the spread of disinformation and the related—yet distinct—problem of distrust of the media pose a fundamental threat to the quality of our public discourse and to our political system, sound policy outcomes, and national cohesion. PEN America argues that even though most “fake news” is protected by the First Amendment, its proliferation creates a flood of disinformation that imperils open expression writ large and demands a concerted response. If left unchecked, the continued spread of fraudulent news and the erosion of public trust in the news media pose a significant and multidimensional risk to American civic discourse and democracy, building gradually over time. 

Read PEN America’s News Consumers’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities »

Read PEN America’s comprehensive report, Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth »