The assault on truth by a right-wing “media ecosystem” began with Rupert Murdoch’s invention of Fox News, augmented in recent years by even more fantasy-based cable networks like Newsmax and One America News.
The shamelessness of these sham journalists was best summarized by lawyers defending the most successful one, Tucker Carlson, in a suit accusing him of slander. The preppy anchor’s statements “cannot reasonably be interpreted as facts”, they said, because he so obviously engages in “non-literal commentary”.
Another foundation of the disinformation crisis was the deregulation of broadcast by the Reagan administration, which eliminated the fairness doctrine in 1987. That simple change insured the pollution of the radio airwaves by Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, creating the first echo chamber.
Of course, the internet allowed these waves of lies to reach warp speed, more destructive than anything humanity has experienced. In the understated description of this volume, “the conservative media ecosystem was augmented by … Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, where the tendency to find like-minded partisans and the freedom from fact-checkers took disinformation to new depths.”
Folk being allowed to say what folk wanted to say is the terror of our times.
These venues have given “far-right lies unprecedented access to significant numbers of Americans” and allowed “ordinary Americans to spread lies to one another”, instantly. “As a result, misinformation and disinformation have infused our debates about almost every pertinent political problem.”
Just to emphasise, this is not some nutter running with the Tankies:
A former reporter for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek, he is currently a nonfiction book critic for The Guardian.
This is actually close to the establishment view in the very serious and proper journalistic classes.