Despite the fact that the Russian media are filled with untruths, Perla says, “the trust of society in the media has remained anomalously high.” A major reason for that is that trust in the authorities and especially those at the regional level has become anomalously low.” Whenever the media say “the authorities are hiding something,” they can sell any falsehood on their own.
The more hyperbolic their claims, the better, Perla says, such as the case of the Magnitogorsk gas explosion being “not an unhappy accident but a terrorist action.” The authorities contribute to this by refusing to be open with people and allowing the media to say quite honestly that “the powers that be are hiding” information from the people.
The reason people in the media lie, of course, is that the penalties for doing so are minimal in almost all cases given existing law and its enforcement by the courts and the benefits of doing so in attracting attention are great because that is how outlets make their money, the commentator says.
Repression won’t stop this; in any case, “the government cannot apply to liars really serious repression. They will shoot those who spread panic,” but they can’t go after all those who bend the truth. Consequently, unless a culture of healthy skepticism is promoted, fake news will continue to win out – and both the government and the population will suffer.