No, I didn’t come with that word. It’s just one more helpful perversion of the English language. This time by a national columnist.
I found it in a piece in which the writer was trying to put a tag on all the deliberate political lying and all the right wing B.S. and deliberate untruths continually spewed by segments of the media. He just wanted some way - some word - to neatly tie all that into a tidy description. Works for me.
Infodemic. As surely as the Coronavirus is a pandemic, so, too, are the individuals and corporations deliberately lying to large segments of our national population.
Yeah, Fox. I’m looking at you. And Newsmax. And Michael Medvid and Michael Savage. And Malkin, Hannity, Beck, Blaze Media, Daily Caller, Freedom Press, Power Line, One America News and dozens more whose flatulent output has created what’s euphemistically called “Alternative Media.” “Media?” Yep, all of those and more are part of the “infodemic.” Many more!
These lying purveyors of mental slime are allowed complete freedom to mentally poison millions of souls while wrapping themselves in the First Amendment. “We’re within our Constitutional rights,” is their mantra. “Freedom of speech,” they claim.
Have you ever read the First Amendment” No? Well, here it is.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
That’s it. All of it. Tucked neatly in there are the words “freedom of speech, or of the press.”
While our “founding father authors” of the original documents had to put up with their share of “soap box” patriots spewing falsehoods trying to undermine the new government, they had no clue about what would happen 250 years or so later. No idea of true mass communication or abridgement of fact spread internationally at the speed of sound.
Up until 1987, we had what was called the “Fairness Doctrine.” It required mass media to offer access to those with competing views to rebut or offer their opinions in similar time or space conditions. And, the Doctrine worked pretty well. Until Ronald Reagan. Yep, him. Reagan appointed four members to the Federal Communications Commission, giving his appointees control. And, one of their first acts was to kill the Fairness Doctrine.
What’s happened since is often unfettered crap, passed off as “fact,” to inundate us all. (Fox and Newsmax?) Under the Doctrine, the media corporations had to make time/space for competing views. Facts, as it were.
Now, no such federally-mandated requirement. If Malkin, Hannity, Ingraham, Beck et al want to say “all frogs are blue with red spots,” they have the absolute right to say so, to pass that off as fact. Corporate owners have absolute right to reject access to anyone who wants to make the case for “green frogs.”
On more serious points, how do we, as a nation, put a stop to poisoning of millions of minds? How do we get “Trumpers,” and others of their ilk, to reject what has become, for them, an alternative universe of lies and damned lies? How do we correct the balance of fact-versus-fiction to have a fully, factually informed nation?
If we can’t do that, if we can’t get at least a heavy majority of us using the same facts to live by - to vote by - honest, well-intentioned holders of nearly any public office won’t be truly effective. When someone has been told a boatload of lies from a source they truly believe in, a frontal “attack” with facts will fail to change his/her mind. Every time.
We’ve got a new president in the Oval Office. He faces a myriad of problems. His “plate” overfloweth. But, the most difficult issues can be traced to underlying dangers of the deep, deep divisions in the country. And, many of those are related to the “infodemic” rampant in our media.
If a quarter, or even a third of the citizens of the country are being fed daily diets of lies and twisted facts from sources they trust, can an administration be fully effective? If the continual push-back is from citizens believing down is up and up is down, how do you break through with logic - with facts - with reality?
One other issue President Biden must face is more and more of these folk are being elected to Congress and other public agencies. It’s believed there are some 40 or so members who are advocates of Qanon.
They’ve signed up with other like-minded souls who “believe” the government is being led by pedophiles and sex traffickers. They believe The Donald is preparing to lead a “counter-attack” against those people. It’s called “the storm.” They truly believe Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros are “conspiring” to take over the government in a coup. And a lot more B.S.. And, they’re in Congress.
“Infodemic.” Now, you know what it means. What the hell do we do about it?