Fake News from the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh is believed because they are telling people what they already want to hear. If you want to fool people, don’t tell them bad things that would repulse them, tell them good things they already want to embrace. Tell them things that will bolster their worldview, and cloak it in the mantle of authority no matter how false.
Tell them their problems are not of their own making, but rather are to blame on evil others, who are different from them. The demagoguery of scapegoating works because it does this for people. So tell them that they live in fear of crime because people of a different color coming from the South are generally rapists and murderers. While at it, blame those people for their unemployment. They want that blamed on someone else, not themselves. Tell them the solution is as simple as a wall. They will eat it up.
Expand the fear of others to include those of a different religion. Exaggerate and lie about the nature of the religion to smear all who hold it as evil. They want to believe this anyway. Hitler did this with the Jews, and Trump with the Muslims. It works. Again, offer the people a simple solution, a rather final solution, of banning these people from society.
Along the way a free press gets in the way of your lies. So you need to make work one more big lie. You must convince that the free press is “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” The demagogue will make himself a victim arguing the news media attacks him because he loves you so. Everyone wants to be loved, so they believe this absurdity. With the news media discredited, the demagogue’s lies are allowed a free field.
The lies now have that free field. We have reached such ridiculous levels that not only is truth irrelevant, truth is despised, and liars are celebrated as the heroes. The purveyors of lies now openly brag of their “alt-facts.” You have a President telling people that even what they see is not true, as his attorney openly declares that “truth isn’t truth.”
And yet, Trump’s supporters still believe, because they are still being told what they want to believe. Yes, they really are that shallow. Yes, they really are that devoid of intellectual rigor and honesty.