One non sequitur after another. Where do I begin?
1) Fake news did not emerge as a "significant influencer" in the US election. This is simply false. That you repeat it prooves you have a penchant for parroting statements you hear in the media rather than applying independent thought. This theory was raised in relation to a number of teenagers in FYR Macedonia compiling "fake news" articles to be spread on social media. That happened. Sure. Did the fact an article appearing on Facebook somewhere, labelled as being from truthnews.com, stating that "the Pope supports Donald Trump and that's why you should" mean that a swinging voter (likely one who has voted Democrat in the past) in an area such as suburban Philadelphia, then, as a result of that, change their vote? If you can't answer yes to that (you can't) then don't repeat the absurd proposition that fake news "significantly influenced the US election". It is so ridiculous as to defy belief that someone would say it.
2) You've said readership surges "nope, had nothing to do with the election". Rather, the "boosts came after Trump was elected". That's what an election is - a President is elected. Are you suggesting there should have been less interest in American politics in December, after Trump was elected, than there was in October? The media created a narrative whereby Hillary had a "98.1% chance of winning". The election saw the candidate with a 1% chance win. Are you seriously suggesting this occurrence of a "1% chance candidate" winning then should have seen a decrease in subscriptions due to a general "post-election effect"? And that the only thing which otherwise stopped this apparently inevitable decrease was the establishment of fact-checking units at mainstream media sources? If so, you have a horrible read on the situation.
3) Your quote from Politico contradicts your own main argument (being that surges in readership etc. have been due primarily to the establishment of those fact-checking units, and that otherwise they would have dissipated post-election due to the usual "post-election effect"). Politico in fact states there has been "no post-election effect" because the lively news cycle continues. That is, there has been no change in narrative - the campaign against Trump continues to gather pace. Why on earth would you assume therefore that there should otherwise be a post-election effect where readership falls, if not for the fact-checking units? When at the same time you're confirming the widespread view that the news cycle has not yet entered another phase?
4) I didn't say fact checking itself has been damaging to mainstream media credibility. I said MSM credibility is at an all time low (this is the case in many countries, not just the U.S.).
See the following; trust in the U.S. mainstream media is actually at a 44 year low.
Further, I said that the public often views mainstream media as attempting to fit news into a certain narrative; that news in painted in a certain light. This is different to the NYT or anyone else establishing an "independent" fact checking unit.
5) You ask why fact checking has surged since the election. Derr. That's because Trump was elected. He was elected because dopey right wing citizens were fooled by fake news. These dopey citizens have to be schooled as to what real news is.
Your stated news organisations cater for a liberal audience. Of course they want to establish units that "prove the other side wrong".
6) Your whole post is predicated on the notion that people read those websites, and subscribe to them, for fact-checking units, and that people hadn't signed up before because this was something not provided pre-election. That is such ridiculous unprovable nonsense that that it doesn't even pass an initial sniff test.
7) You say readership of the NYT has surged since the election. The esteemed 538 polling website also has something to say on 'political news site' surges.
but Breitbart’s growth has outpaced that of other sites in the politics category during 12 out of the past 14 months
Now, if I was as partisan and non-analytical as you, I would say that surge in readership was because Breitbart provides quality coverage that American voters are clamouring for.
In actual fact, what the surge says about Breitbart, and funnily enough says about the NYT at the same time, is that people, before, during, and after the U.S. election last November, are seeking out news sites that fit their own world view. Correspondingly, those providers in the middle are being squeezed out, and ultra conservative sites like Breitbart, and ultra liberal sites like NYT are seeing corresponding surges in readership. This is easily backed up by the fact the same thing is happening to politics itself, not only in the U.S. but Europe too, where, for example, centrist and middle-left parties like the Dutch Labour party are dieing.
8) One smaller point on NYT - Trump makes no secret of the fact he reads it, and he clearly holds it in high regard, as shown by his visit post-election to answer questions from a pool of NYT reporters. I'd say he was always an avid reader of the paper when it was a newspaper of record, and as a 70 year old New Yorker that has read it longer than anyone, senses the recent unbalanced coverage, and this disappoints him. Just my two cents on that.