When I was growing up I always noticed the supermarket tabloids at the checkout. The outrageous pictures and headlines defied reason. I always believed that these were only consumed by bored housewives who were entertained by the titillating stories based on gossip, half truths and sensationalism without the annoying guardrails of journalistic standards. The stories were fun to read and share with friends, but any reasonable person would know the stories were not based in irrefutable fact. These tabloids were not reliable sources of news. They were solely created for entertainment purposes.
Sadly, for the last twenty years, this tabloid formula of gossip, half truths and sensationalism has been adopted by right wing media. This kind of misinformation has always been with us, but due to the takeover of AM radio by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, the expansion of cable news and the creation of the internet into a giant propaganda machine, misinformation has come to dominate the minds of at least a third to nearly half of our population resulting in a level of division in our country not seen since the Civil War. This soup of misinformation created the space for the election of the “tabloid” president who led with, perpetuated and expanded the big lies to fit his selfish purposes taking the majority of Republicans with him.
For those outside the “tabloid” universe, the lies are obvious and ridiculous just like the covers and headlines of the supermarket tabloids displayed at the checkout counters. We must be our own fact checkers. We need to ask ourselves who wrote or spoke the information, for what audience, for what purpose, who are their sources and who paid for it? Often money and power rather than truth are the motivations underlying these communications.
Don’t fall victim to the lies and conspiracy theories that make others wealthy and powerful at your expense. Don’t be duped! Question!