Divided by Disinformation

I started this blog in an attempt to understand how people I know and respect could be Trump supporters. I found him to be an unacceptable presidential candidate the second he mocked a disabled reporter. My view was reinforced by a litany of other despicable behaviors and actions that showed a criminal level of incompetence and immorality.

Trump has no political ideology and was a registered Democrat who donated to democratic candidates over the years. Trump’s only ideology is “what’s in it for me.” Steve Bannon is the one who advised Trump to run on populism, nationalism and anti-immigration platforms.

To me, it was inexplicable that anyone could support him. After three years of researching, I found that my Trump supporting friends have been consuming media that created an alternate reality that is not held to any journalistic standards, no commitment to the truth. It’s purpose was to create hatred for the other side, to stoke emotion over reason and to rake in profit.

Trump’s campaign personified more than 30 years of right wing vitriol. Evangelical Christians, Christian nationalists, white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-government militias, conspiracy theorists, libertarians and ordinary republicans united in this realm of disinformation to undermine, if not, overthrow American democracy.

This explosion of misinformation was caused by the growth of unaccountable social media. It was brought to the forefront by the “false narrative” president and supported by Republican enablers. It culminated in an insurrection! But I don’t think it’s finished! This isn’t the first time that a new media source created a frenzy of misinformation.

Beth Rabinowitz reports that when newspapers first became widely available at the turn of the 19th century, sensationalism and hyperbole sold newspapers, fact and fiction were blurred, and fabricated headlines and false dangerous medical advertisements were published (BCT 01/24/2021 Yellow journalism period offers cues to fight fake news by Your Turn Beth Rabinowitz). She continues, when the dangers of this misinformation was realized, the Society of News Editors issued its Canons of Ethics which marked the beginning of responsible journalism.

This shows that we need to hold social media and internet platforms accountable, too. According to Rabinowitz, we need to get “…a handle on the viral spread of dangerous misinformation.” And, we need “…to decontaminate the country from the poison of misinformation, we have to develop clear guidelines and sanctions for social media and communication platforms.” The dissemination of false information is illegal and not protected free speech. We have existing slander laws and protections from advertisers making false claims. We must insist that all media be held accountable to providing accurate information.

So my Trump supporting friends were and are getting their news from sources not dedicated to the truth or reality. Sadly, many ordinary people have become radicalized and have engaged in seditious acts. What’s even worse, experts say that it is nearly impossible for them to return to reality. Any attempted correction of misinformation is countered with deeper conviction to the lies.

They unknowingly support the deconstruction of the administrative state which is what gives us strength and standing in the world. The only people who benefit from this deconstruction are our international enemies like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, and the American oligarchs. The losers of this deconstruction are us, ordinary hard working Americans. The only thing that can save us is the truth!

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Concerned Citizen

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