Fake news, the propagandistic click bait that has now been applied to reliable news outlets, is perhaps the single biggest thing to affix itself to American cultural discourse from the 2016 presidential election. Naturally, such a thing would be an irresistible plot device for The Good Fight. It's a great blend current events, technology, and the slipperiness of separating fact from fiction from half-truths, all things that Robert and Michelle King have loved to play with in the past.
As used here in "Henceforth Known as Property," Maia (Rose Leslie) was swept up in a fake news tornado after a Twitter bot, set up by an long-ago and yet still very jilted ex-boyfriend (get a life, bro), sprang to life thanks to mentions of Maia in the news due to the Rindell Fund scandal. It was tweeting about Maia's alleged love of canning, her sexual activities, and how she was probably getting fired from her job due to her sexual orientation.
These tweets were then used to prop up articles about Maia on various websites, broadcasting the lies beyond the Twitter bot's followers. However, beyond a few weird conversations in an elevator and one sparking incident I'll get to in just a moment, the fake news items were presented mostly as embarrassing frustrations and violations of privacy in the case of the artful nudes photos the bot quickly shared with Marissa (Sarah Steele). They weren't demonstrated as having an immediate impact on her life.
But turnabout is fair play in the world of fake news, as we've learned through our news cycles and press conferences. Maia and Marissa began circulating fake news about the ex-boyfriend that caused issues with his personal life and his job, an impressive (and too quickly executed) feat given that he didn't seem to be a public figure at all. (Of course, the line between public and private can be construed as incredibly blurry these days.) A truce was declared, and everyone sheathed their fake news sword. Well, everyone except Reddit, because Reddit is a thing that cannot be stopped, and, in the end, despite the fact that they're ruining her public image among those unable to or uninterested in discerning fact from fiction, Maia is told just to let it go.
Lies, however, are difficult to let go, because they can hurt no matter what. Which is why it was so sly of The Good Fight to bring Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry) onto the stage with this week's episode. If you didn't watch The Good Wife, then the show quickly made sure you knew Kresteva was up to no good, and if you did watch The Good Wife, then you were no doubt immediately filled with dread the moment he appeared.
Kresteva is a consummate bender of reality and facts. Or, as Diane (Christine Baranski) put it, the guy's just a big and very good liar. He's the perfect personification of fake news, a liar who keeps his stories very straight and is insanely difficult to prove as an actual liar. And if he's caught, well, he just lies some more.
All of this was demonstrated through his burgeoning crusade against Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad in his role in the Department of Justice to reduce instances of police brutality. While we're privy to the truth, his completely fictitious account of his meeting with Diane to the grand jury -- coupled with her open hostility toward him -- strengthened him and undermined her.
Further strengthening him? Fake news, of course. That sparking incident I mentioned was "news" that Maia went on a massive shopping spree, and Kresteva, armed with it, used it to reinforce his investigation into/discrediting of Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad. It doesn't matter that it's not true. It just matters that it seems like it could be true when presented from an official from the Department of Justice as evidence that the firm is doing shady things with its police brutality winnings.
Here's the danger in ignoring fake news: It doesn't go away. It just keeps circulating and circulating. You can attempt to disprove it, but it doesn't matter in the long run. It's out there, always and forever, just a few keystrokes away, ready to tarnish any and everything. Maia, and the rest of the firm, better get ready.
The Good Fight streams new episodes on CBS All Access on Sundays.