I saw a clip recently where someone being interviewed kept decrying a topic as “fake news”, despite the fact that what the interviewer was saying was undeniably true. And then suddenly it hit me. I’m not sure if this is the way it’s being used generally, but what I realized was that this person didn’t mean “fake news” in terms of “lies” or “false news”. They meant it in terms of “not news”. In other words, “It’s not worthy of our attention. It’s not really news.”
The emphasis was on whether it was news or not rather than whether it was true or not.
So I think at least sometimes when someone says “fake news”, what they mean is “something I don’t really think people should be getting upset about or even paying attention to.” It’s not denying the thing’s veracity but rather its significance.
Not so much a denunciation as a hand wave.
Which is a bit twisted, in my opinion.