The business model of a sizable portion of online media is in the form of pay-per-click advertisements. The attractiveness of the clickbait approach to advertising is that a poor product with a compelling headline is quite efficient at drawing it consumers to the target.

Now silliness written as news has been around forever. Often as satire, sometimes as just silliness. Knowing it for what it was, my grandmother occasionally picked up a Weekly World News or a National Enquirer at the local Piggly Wiggly so we could all have a laugh.

What if someone were to take the journalistic integrity of Weekly World News, removed Batboy from the cover, and cloaked your presentation in the trappings of serious reporting? Enter Fox News. The pseudonews beast had broken its tether.

Loose journalistic standards of the right-wing media at the tail end of traditional media’s primacy presaged an absence of standards in the new media. This approach worked so well, that it essentially forced all newcomers into its model. In the new media, this became the clickbait model. In the clickbait model, those who exchange all effort formerly expended in accuracy for effort expended in presentation receive the greatest reward.

When the climate is so finely calibrated in favor of charlatans, is it really odd that charlatans appear and greatly benefit?