Can the “Ministry of Truth” fix “fake news”?
We have a serious problem in this country, and it has nothing to do with Vladamir Putin. We’ve become a country who has lost any ability to process and sort the swell of information we’re presented on a daily basis and delineate fact from fiction. We can no longer distinguish important realities from half-truths and full lies. This is no accident.
On December 8th, 2016 the Senate passed the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” ostensibly with the intention of protecting our nation from dangerous misinformation campaigns perpetuated by dangerous foreign agents. Several weeks later, on December 23rd, 2016 Obama quietly signed the act into law.
The outcome of this act is the legalization of pouring federal resources into “print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations.” If you believe that the government is always right, and that their intelligence and analysis is infallible, this act is perfectly fine.
Look for a moment at the dates that the Senate and Obama, respectively, passed this act. Donald Trump, Liar in chief, had already been elected president. The American people had already been subjected to arguably the ugliest, least fact driven, and least policy driven campaigns in recent history (90% of Clinton’s negative ads attacked Trump on personal, not policy driven, grounds). We had already been inundated with the cries of “fake news” coming from all sides. Many Americans expressed fatigue with the constant, breathless news, and yet, like a relentless senator who had been pre-warned, it “persisted.”
In the aftermath of the election Americans continued to fracture instead of heal. We became as hostile and contentious as the media around us. Nearly every political article these days is met with a combative “comments” section replete with anonymous internet users going after each-other for their political beliefs, spattered with a whole lot of name-calling. We taunt each-other endlessly, but we lose sight of the facts, and I would argue that’s exactly the point of subjecting us to a ceaseless procession of talking heads willing to mouth spin pieces for fat paychecks. People feel hopeless and angry, and we take it out on one another instead of directing it, with purpose, to fixing the broken system that landed us here.
With the passage of the “Countering Disinformation and Propoganda Act” the government has granted itself the authority to work with and fund “nongovernmental organizations” crafting and promoting any given pro-U.S narrative. Again, if you believe that the U.S interests are always consistent with your own and that the truth is the primary objective of this act then this is fine, but I would challenge you to square that with whatever you think of Trump, or whatever you think of Clinton, and imagine them at the helm of this ship.
Now imagine you live in another country where the United States government is working with your news agencies and funding them. Imagine you live in Haiti and you watched as “Friends of Bill” received funding to build shoddy houses with no running water after a devastating earthquake. Or imagine you live in Iran and remember vaguely a time when the Shah forced the Democratically elected Prime Minister to step down in a coup we now recognize the CIA played a role in funding and executing.
Have we really proven our government beyond reproach? Beyond being suspect of having any alternative agenda but to bring peace, freedom, or democracy to the world? If so, this is fine.