What's So Bad About Disinformation?
If I had a nickel for every time the word ‘disinformation’ has been tossed around the public debate, I wouldn’t have to go out later today and test a bunch of court officers in Connecticut to make sure they can hit the broad side of the barn with their guns. Now why Connecticut thinks that guys need to walk around courtrooms with guns on their hips, God only knows. But at least I can still earn something of a living certifying that when the court officer yanks the gun out of his holster, he doesn’t drop it on his foot.
This whole ‘disinformation’ thing became a big deal when the Russians started spreading false ads on the internet to promote the 2016 election of Donald Trump. But what the Russians were doing was nothing more than what had been going on for a few years on social media channels like Facebook which basically let anyone say anything they wanted to say about themselves or anyone else.
And once it became clear that more and more people were getting what they believed to be ‘facts’ from internet postings, the race was on to attract more users to social media because then the social media companies could charge more for their ads.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard people say that they use social media to do ‘research.’ I don’t think that someone who tells me they are doing research on social media has any idea what the word ‘research’ really means. And if you think the internet version of traditional news media like The (falling) New York Times isn’t just another example of social media, think again.
Next time you go to Stop & Shop and you’re wheeling your groceries out of the store, grab a print copy of The (failing) New York Times, take it home and compare it to the internet version of ‘all the news that’s fit to print.’ You’ll quickly realize that more than half the front-page content of the internet version are op-eds to which readers can respond. Since when did an editorial qualify as news?
The guy who really deserves credit for all this social media disinformation is the same guy who was hired by Trump to create the narratives for his 2016 campaign and is now saying that he won’t appear before the January 6th committee hearing because that way, he can spend a week or so in jail and ramp up his public persona even more.
I’m talking, of course, about Steve Bannon who flopped around Wall Street for a few years and then took over the Breitbart operation which quickly became the basic disinformation mouthpiece for the alt-right. I don’t think that Breitbart has ever published any content that is based on what we refer to as ‘facts.’
I can’t locate the article at the moment, but at some point, a reporter from one of the fake news outlets did an interview with Bannon and wrote the guy up as some kind of intellectual because he had books lying around his Hollywood apartment and could quote Ayn Rand.
Making yourself into someone who is some kind of political know-it-all is rather easy when the person you want to impress is Donald Trump. Which is why Trump continues to promote the idea that the 2020 election was a ‘fraud.’ And the good news is that around the country there appear to be some GOP contenders for various elected offices whose campaigns are based on nothing other than the same idea.
Good for them. It didn’t work in 2020 and it won’t work in 2022 or any other year. All such claims from Trump will remind the 80 million who turned out and voted for Joe that they’ll have to turn out again.
And let’s not forget what Al Capone said: “Vote early, vote often!”