Disinformation: How it works When the MSM fails to persuade and loses the trust of the people, it attacks the sources of news the people DO trust.
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None of us can decide what is true, but maybe all of us can.
Fake news is news this week. The New York Times is asking Mark Zuckerberg to rule on what is true and what is fake. But if you read between the lines, they are asking that he rely on the New York Times to decide for him. The real reason this issue is coming to the fore is that the American government has lost its hold on what Americans believe to be true. They have squandered their credibility. They have fooled us once too often, and we have moved on to look elsewhere for our reality.
(I elide the New York Times and the U.S. Government because, on matters of "what is reality", they have spoken with one voice in recent decades; not since Nixon told us "I am not a crook" has there been a substantial strain of skepticism in the voice of the New York Times or the Washington Post. On October 17, 2004, Ron Suskind, writing in the NYTimes Magazine warned us that henceforth the Administration of GW Bush would be manufacturing its own reality. They have been feeding us that reality ever since.)
Now the Times-Post-Washington insiders are making their bid to put the cat back in the bag. They want our credence back. There are still many Americans who have never let their faith in these sources flag, and they will willingly sign on to internent censorship, or whatever it is takes to return our country to "one nation--one reality".
For the rest of us, we have moved on, and there is no going back. But what have we moved on to? The answer is that we have moved to a diversity of realities. America no longer agrees on basic political, historical or scientific truths. I would argue that that's a good thing. Reliance on a single authority to tell us what is true was never a viable system; it puts too much power in too few hands, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
A free marketplace of realities is not "one truth", but it is probably the best we can do. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and Tom Paine got it exactly right.
"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." (Jefferson, letter to Gen Lafayette, 1823)
A free open Internet with net neutrality enforced on service providers is a Jeffersonian dream. On the other hand, it is a nightmare for any government with totalitarian aspirations. Controlling a population by controlling information ever was a far more effective strategy than controlling people by force.
In this oped from today's NYTimes , Michael Lynch caricatures the "fake news" with some examples that we might all agree on. "Pope Francis endorses The Donald" "Hillary's public appearances have been faked by a body double" He doesn't go so far as to advocate internet censorship, but he lays the groundwork.
A few days earlier, the same NYTimes had assured us that Trump's electoral victory "accurately reflects the will of the American people." The Times began slandering the election integrity movement right after the 2004 election was stolen. Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, are Quickly Buried . Most readers of OEN are not fooled. We know that the Times continues to lie to us about the JFK assassination 53 years ago, and has never apologized for dragging us into war in Iraq with a series of articles on "weapons of mass destruction". The Times played a crucial role in burying the research of Gary Webb, outing our own CIA as the world's biggest drug pusher. In this Harper's article, Thomas Frank documents The Media Extermination of Bernie Sanders . He summarizes his comprehensive review of the Washington Post, but had he focused on the NYTimes instead he would have had similar findings.
Real truth is messy, and none of us has time to research all our beliefs. We rely on trusted sources to inform our realities. Now that the NYTimes &co have squandered their credibility, we have scattered in different directions. Truth has been Balkanized. Deeper than a diverse set of ideologies, America now lives in a diverse set of realities. This has torn our country apart, and contributed to the paralysis of politics.
The solution is not a return to respect for the authority of a monolithic news engine. Less still are the biasing of search engines or outright censorship helpful in pulling America back together. Rather, we will continue forward toward bottom-up news sources like OpEdNews, and reliance on a corps of citizen journalists like you and me.