Robert Brent Toplin is the author of several books about history, politics, and film including Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood; History by Hollywood; Radical Conservatism: The Right's Political Religion; Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11": How One Film Divided a Nation; and Oliver Stone's USA: Film, History, and Controversy. Toplin served as editor of film reviews for the Journal of American History as well as "Masters of the Movies," a series of articles in the American Historical Association's Perspectives on History. Toplin made numerous appearances as a commentator on history for CBS Television, PBS Television, the History Channel, C-SPAN, the Turner Classic Movies Channel, and National Public Radio. He served as a principal creator of historical dramas that appeared nationally on PBS Television, the Disney Channel, and the Starz Network. He was professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and at Denison University, and adjunct professor at the University of Virginia.
In 1807 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” Invented facts have long been evident in presidential elections and wartime propaganda. This analysis traces the phenomenon’s long history in American life. It draws attention, as well, to social media’s widening influence. Recent surveys show that voters disagree about “basic facts,” not just policies. Clashing viewpoints about “news” can be seen in disputes about the Iraq War and in arguments about recent presidential elections.