Monday, March 6, 2017

Study: The Far Right's Disinformation Campaign

This shouldn't surprise anyone, but the Columbia Journalism Review says it so well and persuasively:
THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SHOOK the foundations of American politics. Media reports immediately looked for external disruption to explain the unanticipated victory—with theories ranging from Russian hacking to “fake news.”

We have a less exotic, but perhaps more disconcerting explanation: Our own study of over 1.25 million stories published online between April 1, 2015 and Election Day shows that a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world. This pro-Trump media sphere appears to have not only successfully set the agenda for the conservative media sphere, but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton. [snip]

Attacks on the integrity and professionalism of opposing media were also a central theme of right-wing media. Rather than “fake news” in the sense of wholly fabricated falsities, many of the most-shared stories can more accurately be understood as disinformation: the purposeful construction of true or partly true bits of information into a message that is, at its core, misleading. Over the course of the election, this turned the right-wing media system into an internally coherent, relatively insulated knowledge community, reinforcing the shared worldview of readers and shielding them from journalism that challenged it. The prevalence of such material has created an environment in which the President can tell supporters about events in Sweden that never happened, or a presidential advisor can reference a non-existent 'Bowling Green massacre.'” (emphasis added)
Bravo to CJR's comprehensive (1.25 million stories is staggering) and sobering study. It's well worth reading in its entirety to understand how the neo-fascists and their "right wing media ecosystem" in this country (and abroad) are subverting our democratic institutions through the media (and why the media has to notice and adopt countermeasures). Chilling.

No comments: