So, how should America deal with media that purports to be “news” but, in fact, is offering a healthy serving of spin, misdirection, and outright lies? if you have any additional ideas, what are they?
Hasn't Fox claimed in court to be an entertainment media not a news media? They should be required by law to remove the word " news " from all their programs.
I wanted to mention FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). I’ve followed their work since the 80s as well as subscribe to their newsletter and updates and send them some money every now and then. You should too. Excellent resource.
Which came first, the chicken or right-wing propagandized media? Answer: right-wing media is the chicken, and the egg is the amorphous terror on which right-wing thinking and media is founded.
Before there could be fake news and right-wing propaganda, there had to be receptive audiences which were susceptible to the kind of fear mongering, superstition, misinformation, and stereotyping that they represent. Which brings us to de Tocqueville’s incisive observations. Something has changed and changed radically. Our literate, uber-curious, and highly discriminating and well-informed populace is now largely gullible and ignorant. Indeed, many are willfully ignorant.
How have the literacy, intellectual acumen, appreciation for science, facts, literature, and popular rejection of mythology declined in the US in the last century-and-a-half? After all, did we not institute compulsory school attendance to guarantee education in public schools?
Oh, yes. That was the theory. But Tolstoy was adamantly opposed, along with many rank and file Americans. He had his own academy and he understood education and educational issues as well as anyone. His essays on the topic are eloquent and incredibly enlightening and predictive. He saw the fiasco coming and warned us. No one listened.
It turns out that placing he training, socialization, and education of children in the hands of the state has backfired terribly. I have written extensively on the topic, trying to echo Tolstoy and hoping that the contemporary science will motivate people to listen. However, I have also been dismissed and ignored.
Prohibition failed. The attempt to mass produce education using coercion has failed for some of the same reasons. Education is much more complicated than morality and morality is a core part of education. When a law mandates that children be in attendance, the stage has been turned around 180 degrees and all the characters have profoundly different perceptions and roles. There will be a small minority of select students who will be exceptional or fortunate going in who will be the winners and who will maintain their integrity. The rest will be injured, damaged, compromised, and handicapped in varying degrees.
You could go to the library and extract all the books with the false information and demagoguery that might mislead future patrons to sanitize the material there. But that smacks of book burning. You can at least set minimal standards for media and try to screen out the worst of the worst. But people who want to believe that Democrats drink the blood of children will find a place to satisfy that thirst.
Traditional schools, because of the law, are obsessed with behavior modification and the control of students and obedience to authority. Having a common denominator for content and curricula means that the lowest common denominator will become the standard. Initiative on the part of students all but disappears and attempts to replace it are hollow and superficial. I could go on but no one is listening to me. Compulsory attendance is America's security blanket. Unfortunately, it has never protected us despite the mythology and it is not going to keep anyone warm when the fascists gain control.
I wrote about control of the "threshing floor of the world" in 1980. No one heard me then. Seems more are listening now. Victory gardens are some sort of answer to this "Reset" we keep hearing about and then see what MSM will allow us to see so that we don't know India or other areas dealing with a Bill Gates type takeover of our food sources. We should all be concerned, start going to farmers markets, quit buying meat from grocery and find/ask/insist we get meat products from regen farmers. yeah, its kinda like trusting the organic labels in the grocery store. But if you can visit their farm and see what they do, you can determine whether to trust or not. Best thing is to grow your own garden; give up the gym rat bullshit and find the power and the workout of working with soil, dirt, gardens.
Paying the audience to watch the real news works.
Where does the money come from? The government could provide tax breaks for citizens who go to the effort of being informed and participating in elections. We compensate jurors for their service, why not voters?
On the private side, it would be easy to reward consumers with free cookies or another product for taking a citizenship test or weekly news quiz.
Great article, but nothing new. In my lifetime, US media had about a 5 year period where they were the "breadwinners" for media, and were allowed to tell the truth. The other 64 years they have lied. I remember Vietnam really well, every week we were told the war was almost over and all the troops would be home for Christmas. That lie went on from 1950-1975, and yes, I know it took longer to move opium growing to Afghanistan than anyone anticipated, but the same thing happened when they moved opium growing from China to "French Indochina" after WWII.
My point is that while they have gotten more clever at lying, they've been lying all my life, and I find it hard to believe anyone is fooled. I got rid of my TV in 1972, and when I tell people why, they agree. They go along with the hate and fear because it's entertaining.
In recent voting, 2022, the percentage of people voting in the area of Tennessee where we live was 13%; this pattern of voter participation is increasingly being replicated across the US. The average person, whether so-called 'liberal' or so-called 'conservative' is not voting at levels that can protect America's basic information system, or its bottoms up democracy any longer. In states where voting by mail has been 'allowed' or where provisions for absentee voting are flexible people vote has done slightly better. https://www.eac.gov/vote-mail-trends-and-turnout-six-election-cycles-2008-2018. Voting in person in giant urban centers or in rural areas with people having to travel miles to vote is an archaic approach in 2022.
Unless people insist on voting, or unless basic privileges are suspended unless you vote, apparently people will no longer vote. However, to break the system, perhaps a new approach may be risked: 1. A record of voting automatically confirms your driver's license - and a record of Not voting suspends your driver's license. 2. A record of voting automatically confirms your Social Security payment, and a record of not voting suspends payment for one month. 3. A record of voting automatically transmits a $100 grocery voucher from the treasury. 4. A record of voting automatically renews your auto license for one year. 5. A record of voting automatically issues a voucher for one week of free child care.
Families with children do not take the time any longer to attend to their school boards, as a result many strange things have been happening in our schools; this has created a generational cycle of dysfunctional young adults:
1. We are NOT teaching a full year anymore - we are testing our children to distraction for at least 30% of the school year.
2. We do not have Home Economics anymore; students are not learning how to cook or raise children.
3. We do not have Student debate teams any more; students are not learning how to talk with others in a polite manner.
4. We are not teaching Math or Science at comparative Western levels; we are churning out students who spend more time on gender politics, FaceBook or how NOT to do home work
5. Our public schools are all using the very liberal notion that children are equal and that they must all be passed up at each grade level regardless of effort or ability to master grade level subjects. It's a SOCIAL PROMOTION SYSTEM WITH NO ACCOUNTABILITY.
On this generational background in the US, it's hardly difficult to understand the consequences of a growing mass of voters who do not have the literacy to read, write or understand the consequences that follow families and children when they don't take the time to monitor their school boards, their elected representatives and their neighbors.
The monopoly practices that the elite Democratic Party allowed under Clinton's cloaked benevolence is of equal scope to what the Republican Party has allowed with Reagan and the Bush Boys.
Mr. Hartman is spot on: Democracy in America is realistically being expressed with low voter turn outs, no local media, a failing public school system (a shortage of circa 300,000) https://www.nsba.org/Services/Center-for-Public-Education/teacher-shortage and a population growth of almost 200 million from the Democratically sponsored immigration Act, https://www.history.com/topics/immigration/us-immigration-since-1965 and the complete decimation of the US middle class by NAFTA, along with almost 75 years of endless wars have come together to destroy America's ability to function and believe in itself.
In the end, unless voters systematically neuter the re-election cycle and automatically begin to NEVER VOTING FOR AN INCUMBENT POLITICIAN AT BOTH LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVELS we will never be able to trust ourselves and our public decision makers again. https://cusdi.org/faq/why-are-sitting-members-of-congress-almost-always-reelected/
The forever liberal whining is pathetic, really. We all have the ability to go and DO SOMETHING RIGHT for each of our communities. And that means doing something that will be respectful and of use to all of us: Not just to those who think and live like we do. We have to go BACK in TIME to figure out how to build common ground and let small incremental changes be enough to carry all of us forward.
Let's get focused:
1. Get the roads fixed, 2. Get more male teachers. 3. Figure out why husbands are not helping to raise our children any longer, 4. Stop social promotion in our schools. 5. Get clean water and sewers to everyone. 6. Get preventative healthcare to everyone and 7. Make social security funded by taxing all income, 8. Stop sending our young people into a military that destroys other countries, 9. Require two years of public service of all 18 year olds and then give them back a free adult education system to become doctors, dentists, plumbers and electricians and finally 10. Let's get the electricity grid updated so we can get green energy before it's too late. And maybe it would be helpful to focus on getting a safe national train system that everyone can afford to use.
In short, let's quit whining about FOX News and the Billionaires, and DO SOMETHING THAT NEEDS DOING . The volunteers at www.commondreams.org could do more if each reader committed to sending in $10 each month; perhaps some local entrepreneurs could establish local 'commondreams' news outlets.
Personally, I teach, instead of playing golf, and instead of whining about all the BIG Things. And I encourage young men to be brave and help raise the next generation a little better. Finally, with a national US teacher shortage of approximately 300,000 I encourage all adults to set aside a little weekly time to volunteer again in our schools, on our sports fields and in our churches. Giving of ourselves can be a blessing, and all our young people really need some help these days.
Mr. Hartman's citation referencing Finland and Mr. Biden's presidential ability to bust all the news media monopolies is an excellent focus. How many phone calls and emails can 350 million voters make?
Mr. Hartman citation:
Finland has taken an unique approach to the problem of fake news, particularly on social media, by incorporating news and media training into required elementary and secondary school classes. America could consider the same, although, like the snit we just saw about teaching American history or sex education, it would almost certainly provoke squeals of outrage from rightwingers.
But screw them. America is in a crisis right now caused, in large part, by dishonest actors across the rightwing spectrum of our media and social media.
Forty percent of Americans don’t believe the results of the 2020 election, and nearly half of Republicans think Democrats engage in ritual drinking of children’s blood and worse. There is no corollary or even similar misunderstanding of reality or bizarre set of beliefs among the left or those in the center.
For the moment, media literacy training in schools across America and requiring transparency from social media — both things Congress would have to undertake to succeed — seem like the best approaches we can take to both protect free speech and diminish the impact of lies and propaganda on American political and social life.
If the Biden administration were to enforce the nation’s antitrust laws and break up the media conglomerates, or Congress were to bring back the media ownership limits as they were before being gutted in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, either or both would go a long way toward increasing the social and political diversity of voices across our media public squares
We used to have apples and oranges---journalistic news and pundits. Now we have a whole new fruit like the pluot that was created; they're expensive, and on a social level so is this media situation .
Trump and Zuckerberg in the same room eating-GROSS!!! But then, no one would accuse either of running an ethical business. Their corporate origin stories are equally disgusting. Mark has matured and seems to have a conscience, but it's unfortunate to hear that he didn't understand Trump should be avoided. Trump is a psychopath and has never signed onto a deal or contract he would not break in his own interest.
I like the educating the youth angle, though probably not through schools. Using influencers and organizations like Rock the Vote could be some ways. What they learn can actually trickle-up to the older people they are around.
How about mandating a 'Disclaimer'. Example: '"The information on this platform is for general informational purposes only. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regardingn the accuracy, adequacy, validity ,reliability, availability, or completeness of this information."
Thom. You raise great questions about the state of our news media. But of course history reminds us that our generation is not the first to deal with that question. No doubt, with the immense rise of cable and Internet news, there's been a proliferation of fake news. Yet with the similar rise of critical and/or postmodern approaches to truth and objectivity, your call for media literacy training in schools and a transparency from social media, may in fact exacerbate the impact of lies and propaganda on American political and social life. A host of unintended consequences are inevitable. For example how would you answer the following questions about the nature of such training?
Who will conduct such literacy training? Who will arbitrate the bias and political preferences of the literacy trainers? What administrative board will monitor the value judgments that enter into curriculums? Will the trainers encourage legalizing drugs, abortion and modified euthanasia practices, or other value-laden social issues? Will they agree that liberal immigration policies contribute to a much more progressive open society? Will they presume the science that describes our biological differences be redefined, altered or abolished altogether? Will they remind students that defunding the police might be the best for our inner city law enforcement? Will their politics never enter into a discussion concerning the Jews and the Palestinians? Will they remain neutral with the debates of Keynes versus supply-side economics? Will the teachers/trainers welcome the conservative teachings of Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Jason Riley, Jordan Peterson, Glenn Loury and Victor Davis Hanson?
And no doubt, every single one of the aforementioned political, social and cultural issues comes with a plethora of value judgments - value judgments that will require a serious deconstruction in each of the media literacy training classes. But as you suggest the problem will be the matter of determining “consensus about shared reality, governance — even highly compromised governance.” Using another of your lines, whoever the teacher may be they’d have to be “angels to administer and adjudicate” this training. And no doubt, they, “would be potentially corruptible as anybody else.”
This debate about the news points to the matter of trust. Not a trust in the news but a trust in our people. However, neither side trusts the other side (leaders nor their voters). Until both sides realize there are countless good reasons that both sides retain a mutual distrust, I’m afraid any solutions will end in more hateful incivility, and that our American Democracy won’t survive our news crisis.
Perhaps the most important consideration comes from Daniel Kahneman. He says: “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.” Kahneman’s conclusion clearly describes the mode of operation at our most trusted names in the news. No matter if it’s CNN, FOX, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, Sean Hannity or Thom Hartman, each relies on consistently repeating an unremitting message that the other side is wrong, immoral, and singularly guilty of purveying fake news.
So the question comes back to: who should determine the spin, misdirection and outright lies within the leviathan of news media?
A bit late, throwing it in, 3 things:
First, the theme here is that responsible media constantly pumps up regressive messages by using their regressive preferred terms.
1) Not ‘right’. There is nothing right about them. They are far wrong, not far ‘right’ Right also means correct, and that supports their lies while trying to counter those lies.
2) Not ‘conservative.’. To conserve is to preserve. Progressives and liberals want to preserve human rights, preserve women's rights, preserve voting rights, preserve free and open research and inquiry, and preserve the prosperity we and our forbears have achieved, among many other worthy aspects of life in the United States that are worth fighting for. Confederates are not ‘conservative.’ Nazis are not ‘conservative.’ The klan is not ‘conservative.’ Kleptocrats are not either. We have to use more definitive words in each case.
3) Lies are *not* theories! Theory is as close to a sacred word in my secular world as it gets. Conspiracy lies are *not* theories! Not even conjecture, they don’t pass the smell test! Not hypothesis, not thesis, *not* theory!
Convention? Past time to be unconventional.
best luck to US, b.rad
ps keep well as can be, Thom
There's a way to bring Far-Right broadcasters to heel, but it will take an enormous will of the people. Just as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act has laid dormant for so long since Reagan, it's questionable whether this path will ever be taken. I put forth for your consideration 18 US Code section 1038, False Information and Hoaxes. (B) if serious bodily injury results, be fined under this title and imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and (C) if death results, be fined under this title or imprisoned for any number of years up to life or both. It is now estimated that over 1,000,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since January 2020. Even now about 1/3 of our citizens haven't yet taken Vaccines because of distorted or false information from the Far-Right or the internet. Part of the problem here is how can your prove someone deliberately didn't take the Vaccine because of the propaganda? In an Article published in the Business Insider by Kelly McLaughlin on Sep. 24, 2021 "AT LEAST 7 CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOSTS AND ANTI-MASK ADVOCATES HAVE DIED FROM COVID-19 AFTER BASHING THE VACCINES." Ms McLaughlin lays out how these seven broadcasters were some of the most rabid anti-vaccine proponents in the country. Some unbelieving onto their last breath. I propose a class action suite naming these individuals; Dick Farrel, Phil Valentine, Marc Bernier, Bob Enyart, Robert David Steele, Caleb Wallace and Pressley Stetts and/or their families and anyone whose family could show a similar situation who wishes to join in, to sue Fox News and each member of the Rupert Murdoch family who is involved in the broadcasting of Fox News and every news presenter where there is audio or video tape evidence of them making claims that would be considered FALSE INFORMATION or a HOAX. Considering the enormity of the results of this propaganda, I think it would be proper and advisable to sue them all for no less than three times the aggregate worth and value of them all in their entirety. Since Rupert Murdoch and Fox News is estimated at around $18-19 billion, adding them all would be significant. It might even be advisable to add in all the Little Foxes broadcasters that have sprung up in the last four years, but I'm sure the lawyers would have a better view on that. Then if the suit is successful, go after all the internet services that don't fully police content before posting it. There's some real gold in that area. I think such a successful suit would go a long way to cleaning up the airways for truth in broadcasting. It has to really hurt before the perpetrators, and those considering it, are dissuaded from continuing their propaganda and the undermining of political discourse that we now must contend with at the risk of the utter collapse of our democracy. The main question here is: who would take up the mantle for such an ambitious crusade? The Department of Justice? A private corporate legal firm who might smell great profit if such a suit was successful. All I know is that it is the right thing to do. However it gets done.
We should support all food sources NOW even if they use chemicals because they can transition their practice to regenerative. Most basic: Food and Shelter. Our farmers shouldn't need much convincing after what happened in the Netherlands. It is another form of greenwashing. If farmers and local state governments support farmers into regen ag, that is our best hope. It is so ugly to me that our farmers were manipulated to rely on USDA and their ugly chemicals with a slogan, "we need to feed the world." See, please, "100,000 Beating Hearts," and a guy in Georgia who is fortunate for his acreage but we can do what he does by forming farmer cooperatives to feed our communities, our state and beyond.
I like the idea of a citizenship test -- but non coercive. Like the "approved" status twitter accounts can have. If you pass the periodic citizenship/current event/history test, you get to display that on your social media accounts.