Friday, February 10, 2017

Annihilating Truth

The fountain of lies that is Trump's White House might be the product of a deranged personality, but it also has a sinister logic. Charles Sykes, writing in The New York Times Sunday Review, takes a look at how alt-reality came to dominate modern right-wing discourse:

For years, as a conservative radio talk show host, I played a role in that conditioning by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to legitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. We thought we were creating a savvier, more skeptical audience. Instead, we opened the door for President Trump, who found an audience that could be easily misled.

The news media’s spectacular failure to get the election right has made it only easier for many conservatives to ignore anything that happens outside the right’s bubble and for the Trump White House to fabricate facts with little fear of alienating its base.

Unfortunately, that also means that the more the fact-based media tries to debunk the president’s falsehoods, the further it will entrench the battle lines.

For me, the most telling observation was this comment from Putin critic and former world chess champion Gary Kasparov:

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.

Those of us who have been in the climate wars are very familiar with this tactic. But now every aspect of reality is fair game.