Communicating In The Age Of The Bubble

partisan bubble

This is the speech I gave yesterday to the Public Relations Club of Indianapolis. Democracies require ongoing discussions by participants who share a reality. Thanks to social media, conspiracy theories, “fake news,” and political polarization, Americans today occupy alternative realities. We talk past each other, not to each other, a problem exacerbated by distressingly low levels of civic literacy. Most […]

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Media & Journalism: Why Trust Matters

In 2009, I wrote a book titled Distrust, American Style. In it, I looked at the issue of trust through the lens of social capital scholarship. Trust and reciprocity are essential to social capital–and especially to the creation of “bridging” social capital, the relationships that allow us to connect with and value people different from ourselves. I didn’t address an issue that I […]

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When Evidence Isn’t Reliable

police use of force data
GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK/GRYNOLD

How do we know what we know? Who can we trust? It’s bad enough that an American President constantly attacks reputable sources of information; when Trump asserts that reports unflattering to him are “fake news,” those assertions join–and bolster– widely-held doubts about the reliability of contemporary media. Those doubts are understandable; it is increasingly difficult to separate out the conspiracy-theory […]

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Just The Facts, Ma’am: Another Fact-Checking Resource

USA FACTS - civic ignorance

Shades of Joe Friday! There really are incredible resources on the Internet. Granted, it can be hard to locate them  in that ever-burgeoning sea of spin, propaganda and conspiracy theories, but they exist. Last week, I blogged about “ProCon,” a site that presents the arguments made by contending sides on so-called “hot button” issues. Today, I want to highlight USA FACTS, […]

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Network Ad Refusal: Trump Has No Clue How Free Speech Works

The Trump 2020 campaign ad calling mSM fake news was rejected by several networks - but that does not make it a free speech or First Amendment issue

In a statement released by the Trump 2020 campaign this afternoon, Donald Trump argued that media outlets’ ongoing refusal to accept his “First 100 Days” self-congratulatory ad infringes on his First Amendment free speech rights. In reality, privately-owned media companies are under no legal obligation to accept political advertisements. Moreover, the First Amendment’s free speech provisions apply only to government censorship of speech. […]

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“Alternative” Realities: Making Evidence & Facts Great Again

Making Evidence & Facts Great Again

Bizarre as he is, Donald Trump does embody the GOP’s longstanding effort to substitute fantasy for evidence, and to act on the basis of the former.   Forbes Magazine recently reported that Republican lawmakers have buried a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, because the findings debunked their preferred  (fanciful) economic worldview. The research study found absolutely no correlation between […]

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Trump’s War on Reality: Do Facts Matter Any More?

Fake news. “Alternative” facts. Welcome to the age of Trump. There is no generally accepted definition of “fake news,” and no bright line separating it from the increasing proliferation of propaganda, but the essential characteristic is that it is not factual. (Fake news is not, as Trump asserts, any news that disparages him.) Concern about fake news has risen, and Facebook and […]

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Alternative Facts: Kellyanne Conway Rationalizes WH Lies

Alternative Facts: Kellyanne Conway Rationalizes WH Lies

Coining a new “politically correct” term for lying, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway argued this morning that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was offering “alternative facts” when disputing photographic evidence of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd size. She made the now infamous comments during an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC News’ Meet the Press. “Why put [Sean Spicer] out there for the […]

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The Big Lie(s): How Fake News Gave Us Donald Trump

With every announcement of a cabinet nominee, the news gets more depressing and surreal. Trump is deliberately naming agency heads who oppose the missions of the agencies they will control–nominees who can be expected to eviscerate efforts to address climate change, undermine public education and favor saber-rattling over diplomacy, among other disasters. All of them are contemptuous–or ignorant–of demonstrable facts. […]

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If Facts Matter: The First Presidential Debate

#debatenight clinton trump presidential debate

I’m one of those people who has pretty much “checked out” of the day-to-day hysteria of the Presidential campaign. (I’m old, and there’s only so much I can take….). So I decided not to watch the first debate, reasoning–I think correctly–that my impressions would be irrelevant anyway. What ultimately matters is the ensuing “conventional wisdom.” The consensus from all the […]

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