I saw on interview yesterday on our public broadcasting service (PBS) with a former Republican congressman, Bill McCollum, of Florida, and I damn near punched the TV. Here was a guy who had been out of office for a while and he was promoting the same kinds of false narrative of election irregularities, albeit somewhat more softly than say guests on Hannity of OANN.
To her credit, Judy Woodruff tried to rebut what he was saying, but he should never be allowed on their networks ever again – that is what every single damn responsible network ought to commit to from now on. If you repeat news that is demonstrably false just for the overt purpose of slipping it in there, fuck that, they’re uninvited forever. Beyond the obvious problems and ills of social networks, it is imperative that major networks see how they created these problems by playing up conflict and dumbing down actual “news,” just so viewers would keep paying attention.
A related problem is that there still persists this idea that networks should give airtime to opposing viewpoints merely so that they can be heard, and so that the viewer can then decide which ones are valid.
Bull - shit.
Networks have to understand that viewers look to news networks in part to be informed and updated about current events. When people turn on their set, watch “both sides,” but then listen to one side completely dominate half the segment with information that has been debunked over and over again, the viewer doesn’t necessarily know which side is valid unless they’ve been keeping up with the story, which we should not assume. I have no problem hearing a well-reason alternate interpretation of facts but not alternative facts. For far too long, the media have allowed people in this country to believe that everyone is entitled to their own reality, which is not healthy for a democratic society.
So then you have people going into social media bubbles where people essentially surround themselves with like minded people and insulate themselves from truths they don’t want to hear. I’m not saying that the government or institutions should be getting into the business of actually forcing people to believe what they don’t want to believe – people should still be free to believe that the election was stolen if that’s what they want. But our institutions should make that belief a lot harder, and they shouldn’t support it by giving false news a platform or environment in which they can thrive.