This article contains spoilers through the most recent episodes of Homeland and Quantico, as well as recent episodes of The Good Fight.
On the most recent episode of Homeland, Max (Maury Sterling) made a discovery that pulled all the manifold villains of the sixth season together when he witnessed the CIA’s Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) meet with Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), a garrulous online broadcaster of conspiracy theories. With this sighting, it became clear that O’Keefe’s alternative-media platform was linked to a huge underground network using sock puppets—thousands of fake social-media accounts run by professionals—to propagate misinformation throughout the U.S., particularly stories that oppose the president-elect, Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel). And Dar Adal, long Homeland’s most untrustworthy civil servant, was overseeing it all, breaking numerous federal laws in the process.
The Homeland episode aired the night before Quantico’s interrogation of fake news, in which a chemical fire creating panic on social media turned out to be a non-event—cover for the assassination of a congressional staffer who’d authored fabricated stories to further her boss’s agenda. This being television, the two storylines are notably outlandish. In one, a rogue CIA operative is somehow orchestrating a multi-million dollar operation to smear the president before she takes office. In the other, a Republican senator attempts to have his employee murdered after a story she invents leads to a shooting in which 11 people are killed. But they’re both emblematic of a newfound desire among television writers to tackle the subject of fake news, and, possibly, to better inform the public about the contents of their Facebook feed. The question is, will it count?