John Adams mentions fake news in his diary. In 1769, Adams writes about spending the evening coming up with news stories to undermine British authority in the colonies.
In 1782, Benjamin Franklin fabricated a story about Native Americans sending scalps of colonists to the King, and printed it in a fake issue of a Boston newspaper. Over the next few years, this story was treated as fact and reprinted many times in other newspapers.
In 1835, in an apparent attempt to boost circulation, the New York Sun published several articles about creatures that supposedly inhabited the moon. The story cited a legitimate scientist and many people believed it to be true.
In 1917, H.L. Mencken published a ficticious history of the bathtub in the United States. It was repeatedly cited as fact, despite Mencken admitting that it was fictitious.
Stories of widespead panic caused by the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds may not be so accurate after all.