Tuesday, December 7

Disinformation is the invasive species of 2021 (Analysis)


(CNN) — Misinformation about covid-19 vaccines it has cost lives.

Disinformation about the 2020 presidential elections it threatens democracy in the United States.

Narratives that deny climate change allow countries and companies to ignore the effect of their actions on Earth’s atmosphere.

Dangerous falsehoods, spreading like an invasive species, are shaping up to be a major challenge for society in 2021.

The lie about the 2020 elections finds new momentum

We have written over and over here about the threat of former President Donald Trump’s false fantasy about the 2020 election. And we will continue to do so as long as he repeats the lie that he won.

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But instead of being ostracized and losing Republican support, he remains well within the party’s mainstream.

A new CNN story, by Alex Rogers, Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju, examines a group of young Republican candidates for the House of Representatives who are part of a program for promising politicians. Read the report here.

More than a third of these new candidates from states across the country have, like Trump, cast doubt on the 2020 elections or supported the former president’s efforts to nullify them.

That list includes: Eli Crane and Walt Blackman in Arizona; Cory Mills and Anna Paulina Luna in Florida; Caroline Leavitt, Gail Huff Brown y Tim Baxter en New Hampshire; Jake Evans en Georgia; Tyler Kistner in Minnesota; Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez in Texas; Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin; and Jesse Jensen in Washington.

Some data from the report:

When asked who he believed had won the 2020 election, Leavitt, Trump’s former press aide, said, “Donald J. Trump.”

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Baxter, a state representative, told CNN: “President Donald J. Trump is right, it is time for an audit in every state.” Asked who won, Baxter replied, “The candidate with the most legal votes!”

And Gail Huff Brown, a former television reporter whose husband, former Senator Scott Brown, was Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand, told a local ABC affiliate in September that “there were a lot of wrongdoing” in 2020 and “won the covid -19 “.

There are no two versions in this story

It is difficult to cover America’s politics impartially at a time when so many candidates have embraced these kinds of falsehoods.

“I think this is a real challenge for mainstream journalism, because they teach you that there are two versions to every story,” Axios managing editor and CNN contributor Margaret Talev said during an appearance Thursday on “Inside Politics.”

She channeled my exact thinking on this.

“There aren’t really two sides to the story,” he said. “There is a known truth. The elections were legitimate and Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States. The elections were not stolen, so that should be the starting point. How do you interview a candidate when there is no point starting for the truth, when the premise of the candidacy is built on a falsehood, on a disinformation? “.

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He pointed out that it is a problem for political journalists, but that it carries over to other parts of life and to the whole world where there are authoritarian movements on the rise.

“When the genesis of the candidacy is based on a deliberate falsehood, it poisons the entire debate,” he said.

The role of Murdoch’s media empire

The same issue is carried over to the media, as in the case of The Wall Street Journal, which published a long letter from Trump that promoted his false ideas about the elections.

It was one thing to publish his letter when he was in office. He was the president of the United States. Now, however, as he tries to mount a return to politics based on the lie about the elections, it is bad journalistic practice to give him a platform.

Fox News, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, promoting a new special, “Patriot Purge,” with Tucker Carlson, which appears to boost what CNN’s Oliver Darcy calls “1/6 trutherismo”, or the silly idea that the insurrection was a hoax.

It’s hard to conclude anything other than that Murdoch and his media empire are intentionally pushing conspiracy theories.

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Oil companies and climate change

False information was also the main topic of a hearing held Thursday at the Capitol, although the topic was climate change and not elections.

Executives from oil companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell met in the wake of an investigation by the House of Representatives Commission on Oversight and Government Reform into whether intentionally misled the public about the contribution of fossil fuels to climate change.

“Spare us the rhetorical twists today. We are not interested,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat of California and chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment, during his keynote address. “Lies don’t work under oath.”

In 1994, Big Tobacco executives participated in a famous hearing before Congress, when they misled legislators about their knowledge of the dangers of tobacco. That atmosphere was breathed now, but with respect to the oil companies.

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“They [las tabacaleras] they also faced a choice. They chose to lie under oath, deny that nicotine is addictive, “Khanna said.” That didn’t work out for them. “

All oil companies today recognize climate change and have adopted public relations strategies in which they emphasize that they will be part of the solution.

“Exxon does not spread, nor has it ever spread, disinformation about climate change,” said its CEO, Darren Woods, during his speech. “The company’s public statements on climate change are, and have been, truthful, fact-based, transparent, and consistent with the views of the broader and majority scientific community at the time.”. More information about the audience.

Facebook is now Meta

It could be that the biggest enabler of misinformation and false information could also be the great democratizer of information, Facebook.

The tech giant, which is under fire and faces possible new regulation, changed its name on Thursday. The company will be renamed Meta, according to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s eponymous service will now be, according to CNN’s Samantha Murphy Kelly, “only one of the company’s subsidiaries, next to Instagram and WhatsApp, instead of the general brand “.




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