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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Conservative Operative Makes Fake Rape Claims To Support Roy Moore

Project Veritas Conservative Operative Makes Fake Rape Claims To Get Roy Moore Elected

A conservative operative working with Project Veritas attempted to trick the Washington Post into publishing a false rape and abortion account to damage the outlet’s credibility and help elect Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. WaPo saw through the sting almost immediately as they looked into the woman’s story and ended up publishing an exposé article on the woman, the […]

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Responsible Media Consumption: Shame On The New York Times

The New York Times is yet again using its massive platform to promote bigotry and hatred. In a fawning piece about pro-genocide conservative Ben Shapiro, who has built a career branding his violent bigotry as an intellectual rebuke of “PC culture,” the largest daily newspaper in the United States of America portrayed Shapiro’s transphobia in a disturbingly positive light. Apparently […]

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Weaponizing Speech

Weaponizing Free Speech - social media has become a censorship weapon

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a provocative article by Tim Wu, a media historian who teaches at Columbia University, titled “Did Twitter Kill the First Amendment?” He began with the question: You need not be a media historian to notice that we live in a golden age of press harassment, domestic propaganda and coercive efforts to control political debate. […]

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Fake News and the Big Lie

fake news and the big lie

A few days ago, Vox reported that: Attacks on the “fake news” media have become a staple of the Trump administration — and nearly half of voters, including the vast majority of Republicans, believe the president when he claims that the media is making up stories about him. Forty-six percent of voters believe that major news organizations fabricate stories about Trump, while 37 […]

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Labels, Subtext & Dog Whistles: The Rise of Right Wing Hate

Rise of Right Wing Hate

Anyone who’s been online – on social media in particular – over the last couple of years can attest to the fact that hate speech is evolving to the point that it’s often hard to keep up with what constitutes “trolling” and what is honest-to-goodness harassment and hatred. In fact, this blurring of lines has become so complicated, experts have […]

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Fake News & The Trump Administration: How The Big Lie Works

Trump

Most of us have heard the famous quote by Hitler henchman Joseph Goebbles, who said  “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The importance of repetition to this formula has been confirmed by a recent study conducted by three scholars at Yale–a psychologist, an economist and a professor of management. They […]

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About That Echo Chamber: Combatting Bots, Propaganda & Fake News

One of the thorniest problems bedeviling our unraveling democracy is the distortion of reality–intentional and unintentional– provided via the Internet. That distortion is immensely aided by our tendency to live in echo chambers populated by friends who think like we do. Most of us trust links from friends – a vulnerability exploited by phishing sites and other forms of online […]

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