Misinformation in Conservative Media Literally Killing People

According to the Washington Post, “three studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.”

In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media’s role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others.

It’s one thing to poison political discourse in this country, it’s quite another to kill people. Fox News and even more insidious media outlets that lie even more brazenly than Rupert Murdoch’s network - talk radio, OANN - need to be taken to task and held accountable.

But there’s that pesky “freedom of the press” and in an era where Donald Trump is screaming about “fake news” to the detriment of the constitution I am not so sure it would be a winning strategy to try and legislate media outlets.

So what can be done here? There is the Darwinian theory that if those who view conservative media are more likely to die that will eventually fix the problem. Whether you take that comment as capitalism (After Judas Priest were sued for supposedly subliminally encouraging fans to kill themselves, vocalist Rob Halford later observed that wasn’t a sensible way to build a fanbase. Better, he suggested, to insert the command: “Buy more of our records”) or a more practical matter that dead conservatives won’t be able to vote conservatively doesn’t matter.

Sure, I do my part by not ingesting conservative media bullshit. I call it out when I see it on social media (another tangential issue in this regard). But what else can be done, if anything?

The disturbing part is that is that these people are not being fed random bullshit. If that was the case, I’d be a lot less worried. I figure that the misinformation they were hearing were sending them off in all different directions, while people who followed the real world would have the advantage in all going in the same direction. It would be like the way science produces better results than pseudo-science.

But the vast right wing conspiracy is not a bunch of random actors. It’s a small group of people who have a program and control a large share of the media. They are not spreading random misinformation; they develop and disseminate specific disinformation that moves their audience in a common direction.

Fifty million stupid people just stumbling around is an annoyance. Fifty million stupid people all listening to the same demagogue is a serious danger.

As the risk of sounding like I’m frothing at the mouth, but I have always seen their strategy as selling outrage, and divisiveness. With the “other” (fill in the blank) as the culprits - targets of the outrage.

So, suppose this evil cabal of media overlords knows that their message will kill some number of their viewers? What does one do with that information?

Simple, tell your viewers that the “other” is killing them (lying - backed up by cherry picking numbers from studies just like the one cited in the OP). Result, more outrage and stronger enmity of the “other”.

Ultimately, the goal is to grow viewership, and the obvious risk is shrinking viewership due to deaths, but I think they are betting on threading the needle of attracting more viewers by ramping up their crap message and hoping that people come to them for “the truth”.

Are they ultimately delusional? IMHO yes. Are they rich and in power? Yep, and to them, that is the only measure.

Don’t forget, this is the same small group that will push"all lives matter" - except the countless millions we’ll mass murder through famine & starvation since they’re too damn greedy to stop burning the planet to the ground. When Stalin did it, it was a genocide. When these old bastards do it… it’s just business.

While I consider myself a conservative independent I have to agree. Some of the stuff I hear on conservative radio makes me cringe.

I’ve worked in healthcare for some time and while the U.S. medical community does sometimes get involved in politics they simply don’t lie about this type of stuff. They don’t fake the number of deaths or use health scares to control people. It just doesn’t happen. I appreciate a voice questioning the standard media’s take on events but I think they may actually be hurting people

Except for when they do. Aren’t the current anti-vax stances based on physicians creating their own vaccine schedules? They’re lying about the risks and risking the health of youths to sell books.

Personally, I don’t believe those studies were all lies. There clearly is some risk in using vaccines and it probably does actually hurt a small minority of people. But believing that doesn’t mean I don’t agree the benefits far outweigh the risks.

And the people trying to twist study results to match their message is not what I’d call the “medical community.” I’d define it as the medical providers and organizations doing the healthcare and reporting the numbers.

The problem is that several of the the measures they’re flouting aren’t there to protect them, they’re there to protect others. So it’s not just conservatives who will be dying; decent people will be dying at an accelerated rate too. Which means that kicking back and letting the idiots kill themselves isn’t really a satisfactory answer either.

Actually, it’s the anti-vaxxers who are promoting something to sell books (or get speaking dates) to enrich themselves, not medical providers. They may have their freedom to not vaccinate their kids, but otherwise need to be shown the door.

Very, very few physicians would give unnecessary vaccinations or deviate from public health or Academy of America’s Pediatrics schedules. They would risk licensing and professional censure, which would rapidly negatively impact their income, as well as risking insurance reimbursements.