During the last electoral cycle, several Republican elected officials, starting with Donald Trump himself, conveyed what is now called the “Big lie”, the ultimate lie. As you will no doubt remember, they have multiplied legal proceedings in several states in order to reverse the results. The election of Joe Biden constituting a theft.
For months we have witnessed a charge of politicians and lawyers to discredit the American electoral process, with the “successes” that we know. The courts were quick to dismiss the allegations, very often because they were ridiculous or, more importantly, that no solid evidence could be put forward.
Among the angles of attack of the supporters of the outgoing president, there were several assaults on the firms which produce and manage the machines used to record the results. Not only were Republican activists screaming at destroying their reputation, but several partisan networks made sure to hammer home the point.
We can first think of Fox News, but among the propagandists we also find networks with more modest ambitions and ratings such as OAN or Newsmax. These information troublemakers are now learning the hard way that there is a price to be paid for sustaining and relaying disinformation.
I suspect that among the readers of this blog there will be many who will point out, with good reason, that networks like CNN or MSNBC are generally more favorable to progressives or that a prestigious publication like the New York Times is going through a small internal crisis because a significant portion of its editorial team adheres to the woke movement.
This is all true, but editorial guidance does not compare to spreading false information. Undermining the credibility of one’s own system for partisan and electoral purposes should be near the top of the list of factors detrimental to the practice of a healthy democracy. It is no longer the adversary that we demonize, but everything that stands in the way of victory.
We sometimes come to wonder if there is a price to pay for its significant deviations, for these practices unworthy of a country which claims to be a beacon of democracy. It seems that there is one and that the courts are still a bulwark to repel the onslaught of barbarians who ask nothing better than to undermine the constitution they claim to cherish.
The Newsmax network, whose work I mentioned above, has just recognized that there was no evidence to support the allegations of fraud that it nevertheless conveyed with rare energy for months. What was good for the ratings is likely to be less so for the already sulphurous reputation of the network.
You can guess that Newsmax did not spontaneously indulge in this mea culpa and that this confession did not emanate from the will of the leaders. If the network expresses itself publicly, it is because it is forced to do so. The Dominion firm, whose credibility has been repeatedly challenged, sued Newsmax in court, charging it with libel.
While one can rejoice in Dominion’s victory in court, one should avoid viewing Newsmax’s confession as the nail in the coffin of disinformation. Rather, it would be an encouragement to continue the fight by ensuring that those who abuse the strategy pay the price.
To moderate our ardor, I recall that 55% of Republicans are convinced that Joe Biden’s victory is not legitimate, more than 60% of them still being convinced that Donald Trump was the victim of a theft.
You are demanding of the media, especially the mainstream media, and you are right. You regularly criticize the news coverage by the various newspapers or the various news channels. It is your right and it is often what motivates the artisans of information to redouble their efforts.
While I hope that you will continue to keep an eye on the grain, I also hope that you equally vigorously condemn the disinformation that is rampant on social networks. The scourge, it is there.
Asking experienced journalists or experienced communicators to the highest standards is healthy, but turning a blind eye to the undermining work of licensed web experts, who don’t bother with fact-checking, is to encourage a significant decline in the search for the most accurate information possible.