In a recent discussion at Plato’s Footnote, Massimo Piglucci made the case that Trumpist spokes people should be allowed equal access to mainstream media presentation of their views, to be properly refuted with reason and facts. Because I believe strongly in the right to free speech, I felt torn; because it is obvious that the Trumpists abuse free speech to engage in dissimulation and propaganda that goes beyond what the expectations of free speech should allow in a republic with democratic aspirations. After my first post and Massimo’s reply, I tried to respond, but found comments closed at his blog. So I am posting here. This includes a remark by Socratic Gadfly, and my response to this. (There was also an interesting comment by brodix that I am still mulling over – although, albeit a pessimist, I fear brodix’s comment more cynical than I am willing to go. But I will, in fairness, reproduce it here.) If you want Massimo’s whole argument go here: https://platofootnote.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/should-the-ignorant-be-denied-access-to-audiences/
My first comment:
“but is it — as Van Norden claims — reason to cheer MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” decision never again to invite Kellyanne Conway because of her bizarre notion of “alternative facts”? I don’t know. It is very unfortunate that someone like Conway is currently a high profile government official, but isn’t a journalist supposed to challenge that sort of notion, rather than suppress it?”
It’s not a question of suppressing it – Conway has other outlets for her babble. But outright , open, dishonest propaganda cannot be “questioned.” When allowed a wide audience it is given ground that becomes, for its faithful, unquestionable.
I sympathize with the sentiments expressed here, but the nature of contemporary media has changed the playing field. If the mainstream media really drew a hardline around Trump’s lies and bluster, he would have no media for these but his tweets and Fox. That, unfortunately, would be enough. So the real balance here is between shutting down a probable gangster and authoritarian, thus riling his base beyond communication, and underscoring his lies, his conspiracy theories, his undercutting the rule of law, if only as a record.
And for that record,Joe Scarborough is a conscientious conservative, who only left the Republican party because of its acquiescence with Trump’s dedicated assault on American Values.
Ann Coulter – a notorious and open propagandist? I would not grieve if she had no audience allowed.
This is not the America you first came to, Massimo. This is not the America I was raised in which. despite all the craziness of the Sixties, worked because the acceptable political discourse was well understood by most politicians and the electorate. Trump is overseeing, again with the acquiescence of the Republican Party, the greatest change in American politics, legal and political systems, and political discourse since the Civil War. Most are failing to realize this, and that too adds to the magnitude of the consequences.
One other point, remarking Joe Scarborough BTW: This is the first time in American politics when the former spokespersons of one Party have openly advocated voting for the opposite Party (eg., Republicans George Will, Michael Steele), in order to put a check on the monster in the White House. We saw some of this on the state level back in the Sixties – when there were such creatures as “liberal Republicans.” But never on the National level. That in itself should tell us how desperate the situation really is.
So, again, while I am sympathetic with the general point here, the real politics of the moment requires I consider – even demand – a line that is both possibly as hard as Van Norden suggests, albeit with greater nuance and political savvy.
But personally, I would be just as happy as no Trumpoid were given any access to the mainstream media to disseminate their lies, false narratives, and apologetic. All news is shaded, all commentary driven by perspective. But hidden agendas and propaganda are beyond the pale. They have Fox, and radio talk-shows, and that broadcasting company that now requires. local station to reiterate corporate political decisions (I don’t jave that name as I write.)
They have their own media, don’t you get it? The ‘mainstream media’ doesn’t matter to them anyway. The fight now is beyond classical liberal principles and argumentation. I don’t like it. But denying that is like walking into a snowstorm in a swimsuit.
They have their own media, don’t you get it? The ‘mainstream media’ doesn’t matter to them anyway.
I disagree, it matters to them because they realize that a lot of people in the US are still capable of questioning what they are doing.
’s not a question of suppressing it – Conway has other outlets for her babble. But outright , open, dishonest propaganda cannot be “questioned.”
It actually can, and should be. It’s not going to be questioned precisely if we shut out these people from mainstream media. Then the only outlets they will have at their disposal are propaganda ones. Scarborough needs to do his job, question Conway openly, directly, and forcefully. Even using sense of humor, if need be. Public ridicule, especially when coming from someone on your same political side, is very effective.
On EJ, is part of what you’re getting at the “difficulty of conversion”? Tis true. High level of motivated reasoning among Trump true believers. If we get into a real trade war, it will be “interesting” too see how deep that motivated reasoning really runs. (I’m personally not totally opposed to the general idea of tackling some issues, but Trump is in no way interested in truly “fair trade” that takes into account less developed nations’ environmental and labor standards. Remember those toothless side agreements to NAFTA? That said, he is right on China … and the issue behind that. The WTO two-tiered standard of developed/non-developed is too simplistic. The solution isn’t booting China into “developed” but making a third category for it and a select other number of nations where they lose some, but not all, of the favors of truly non-developed nations.)
“That said, he is right on China … and the issue behind that.”
This is oneof the many problems, this normalization of the most aberrant presidency in history. Trump is not right about anything, because he has no policy, and no opinion except about his ‘wonderful’ self. If you want to say that, eg., Mattis or now Bolton etc. are right on China, fine – I would disagree and argue for a more nuanced approached, but that’s a different discussion. But Trump isn’t right about anything, not even about himself.
So this is how it now plays out:
Cuomo: “Kelly Ann, in this clip I’ve showed you, Trump has said X.”
Conway: “I didn’t see that clip. Chris. But I’m sure it was taken out of context. The President would never say that.”
Cuomo: “I showed you that clip! That’s what Trump said. Also he just said in a tweet X!”
Conway: “Then obviously X must be good for the country. The president would never say anything that would not make America great again.”
Non-trumpist viewer: “WTF?!”
Trumpist viewer: “You go, Kelly Ann!”
Later that day: Two videos appear on youtube: 1) “Cuomo confronts Kelly Ann Conway with Trump’s lies.” 2) “Kelly Ann Conway DESTROYS Chris Cuomo!”
The next day, Conway appears on Fox and Friends,” reiterating the lie, and they all applaud here, and the viewer of the show, thinks, ‘hell, Conway was right – Cuomo? – fake news.”
We have a ‘Reality Television’ politics now. That’s the end of your liberal suppositions about ‘free speech.’
In the Thirties, Nazis used ‘free speech’ to portray Jews with tails eating babies. In the Fifties, Joe McCarthy used it to destroy the livelihood of dozens of creative individuals.
At some point in the Sixties, we said, “no.” Now we’re saying “yes, okay” again. Thaty’s a serious backstep. There are just some opinions that, while not unutterable according to the principle of free speech, ought to be ostracized for a decent, republican, democratic society to continue.
That is not happening now.
Even in the McCarthy era, the institutions of Constitutional government were considered sacrosanct. That is not happening now.
It’s time to rethink politics in the era of Twitter and Reality TV.
I really do have to take extreme askance with the idea of Trump as being somehow out of synch with what has been going on. Remember Karl Rove’s quote to some reporter about how they, the spinmasters, create the reality and the reporters write it? Trump gets blamed on the Russians, but everyone totally forgets how we were, back in the 90’s, trying to run the Russians through the disaster capitalism wringer, with Yeltsin and the oligarchs. The Saudis bragged about putting 25 million into Hillary’s campaign and that was no problem with the media, but I don’t recall most of those flying jets into the World Trade Center being Russian.
Both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement were under Obama, when he gave the banks a trillion dollars and let them continue screwing home owners. At least under Bush 1, some of the saving and loan people went to jail. Though, in hindsight, it was probably the big banks clearing out the competition.
It does seem to those of us who try to dig into the news and not just look at it with a fresh and open mind every day, that most Americans, left and right, are extremely clueless. Trump is like the puss pocket actually popping open and now people are somehow shocked that some bankruptcy scam artist/media creation is running things. I don’t want to hurt any feelings, or disturb anyone, but it is going to get much worse. The credit cards are maxed out and the predatory lenders are going to be squeezing your every move. Those smiley people on the tv were lying to you.