On one level, it is opportunistic promotion by Baron Cohen, using a 2012 video from Trump’s “From the Desk of Donald Trump” vlog to promote his new show. On another, it demands questions of provenance: where did this footage come from? And when? There is no indication of its origins on screen.

While it offers Trump’s own confession of violent dislike for Baron Cohen, this was not a recent tweet intended as a holiday announcement. And what do we make of the statement that “Sacha graduates” from Trump University, an unaccredited, defunct organisation subject to class action lawsuits for fraud and negligent misrepresentation?

Will Trump issue his usual verdict for things he doesn’t like—that this is simply “fake news?” There are two meanings for this phrase which is suddenly in such regular use. There are those who see it as inaccurate reporting, inflammatory clickbait and misinformation gone viral—and warn against extreme credulity whereby too many people are willing to believe something that appeals to their ideals and prejudices. Then there is the sense of outright dismissal, that leads to a failure to engage with either form or content.

Who is America? has the potential to intervene and undo this damage. If it continues the intriguing layering of fiction and non-fiction that Baron Cohen started with Ali G, Borat, and Brüno, there is an opportunity to return viewers to the necessary critical perspective required for documentary and non-fiction media.

The program is likely to encourage a host of responses from furious disavowal to delight in the “gotcha” element associated with Baron Cohen. But its blurring of truth and fiction could also make decisions to accept or reject what is being shown more difficult—Baron Cohen’s sly comedy offers viewing that engenders trust and doubt simultaneously. Who is America? could encourage audiences to investigate how this was produced, and what actually happened. It could mean searching for clues of a hoax and focusing on the facts that linger. This is the non-fiction media literacy we all need in the era of Trump.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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