Worried about whether you’ll get brainwashed by any of this?
Don’t worry — not if you carry one particular philosophical banner which apparently conveys immunity from political lies.
Can you figure out which philosophy? No? I’ll help you:
Starting in November 2016, I began to collect disheartening and infuriating stories about pro-Trump/anti-Hillary trolls, bots, kompromat, disinformation, lies, smears, et cetera et cetera and so forth.
This information has become useful as I work on Part II of my book, How I Learned The Facts of Life. (Part I is “The Facts of Life.” Part II is “The Fakes of Life.”)
In a section entitled “Meet Some Purveyers Of Fake News,” I write about some of the worst. Three of them, though, inadvertently provided some experiential proof that we are not all fools — to their chagrin but my great pleasure.
Here they are. I’ve bolded the stuff that should delight and buoy you up for our coming battle in November 2020:
Jestin Coler said he was producing fake news to “infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt right.”
What’s the fact of Jestin Coler’s life? He produced fake news for the money.
I was introduced to Jestin Coler by Laura Syndell in her excellent, thorough, clear-minded post-election article, “We Tracked Down a Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs: Here’s What We Learned,” from NPR.
Here are two paragraphs telling you pretty much everything you need to know about the audience for fake news.
During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.
Now let’s travel with the New York Times to Tbilisi, Georgia, in the November 25, 2016 article by Andrew Higgins, Mike McIntire and Gabriel J.x Dance, “Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’”:
A computer science student in a former Soviet republic found there was money to be made in mixing real and made-up stories, as long as they were pro-Trump.
Here are the first two paragraphs. Do feel free to compare the statements made with that bolded statement from Jestin Coler up above:
Jobless and with graduation looming, a computer science student at the premier university in the nation of Georgia decided early this year that money could be made from America’s voracious appetite for passionately partisan political news. He set up a website, posted gushing stories about Hillary Clinton and waited for ad sales to soar.
“I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.
I wasn’t entirely aware of fake news stories posted on Facebook, for one place, because I don’t read them or get them (I’m not even sure how I would if I were interested) and, mostly, because I know how to get facts out of the news. The real news. And I don’t get my news from Facebook.
It’s now shockingly obvious after the 2016 election that a massive number of people in this country don’t know how to gather and weigh facts, and can’t – or don’t want to – distinguish between fact and lie.
People who apparently were devoted to a guy named Paul Horner, who ran a fake news site on Facebook.
Reading about Horner’s specific fake news stories today is bewildering. I don’t remember them. Viral they may have been but that virus I didn’t catch.
The Amish lobby? Gay wedding vans? President Obama canceling the election? The Pope endorsing Trump? The ban of the national anthem? They were all invented by Horner.
Horner was a hoaxer, a spewer of viral fakery. He wrote crap, junk, garbage. He fooled people – whom he deplored:
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Horner died of a drug overdose. We educated liberals, who did fact-check everything, will not miss him.