UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2021 -- TWO PARALLEL UNIVERSES
Everything under the sun has changed since last updated. There has been violent armed attack on the Capitol and the Congress. Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, decisively. 81 million votes to 74 million votes. 306 electoral college votes to 232 votes. Trump is headed for a second impeachment for sedition and inciting violence. The social media companies -- Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter, Instagram have all banned Trump to prevent further incitement of violence and because he is considered to be a "threat to the public".
We are hopeful but confronting profound division within the country. A big part of the division is that we do not share the same facts. Republicans reject the 2020 election results even though the votes voted in enormous numbers, the states certified the results from the Electoral College and the issues have been brought to the Courts over sixty times and there is no evidence of voter fraud.
Fox News is more and more radically right. New, even more radical right media, have grown powerful. White supremacists are in the lead of the Republicans. Conspiracy theories are frightening, full of hate messages. Many Republican voters have been radicalized.
We have our work cut out for us.
PROPAGANDA, INFORMATION MANIPULATION AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES
Read. Stop. Think. Verify.
GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT CENTER -- US State Department agency responsible for addressing propaganda
NEWS LITERACY PROJECT -- good source of information about real "fake" news and viral rumors
Be careful with your data! Mozilla puts out a Data Detox Kit -- A Voter's Guide
President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
We are in a new age of propaganda in the US, something that we don't expect, are not familiar with and don't know how to respond to . . . and it is coming at us from all different angles.
Facts, from our government, support that Russia is spreading coronavirus conspiracy theories throughout the globe in early 2020.
Facts, from our government, also support that Russia is interfering in our 2020 election by instigating "chaos" and divisiveness. They also have declared support Trump and Sanders in the 2020 election.
Facts support that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election, they have continued during the intervening years and are planning to interfere again in the 2020 election. We can expect other countries to interfere as well -- China, Iran, Albania, North Macedonia, others.
The president lies all the time. I think he got to over 16,000 by March 2020. Lies are both small and large, some consequential. My understanding that they are sometimes told to upset liberals. Surely the lies are told to numb people so they are more easily fooled and manipulated.
The president of the US constantly call the free press "fake news" all the time. This daily attack on the media serves to divide our country and to cast doubt on mainstream reporting.
The president of the US also has brought right wing, conspiracy theories into the mainstream of political life, amplifying lies, hate and complete fabrication. The Southern Law and Poverty Center tracks white nationalists groups, terrorist groups, hate crimes, anti-Semitism and more. Even a few years ago, conspiracy theories were rarely discussed, now the president brings them to Twitter almost daily.
The changes in the news industry have been sweeping. The transition to digital upended the industry and the shake out resulted in fewer newspapers and fewer journalists, especially at the local level. And the government rules regarding ownership have changed to allow monopolies. Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative media owner, owns a huge percentage of local news stations and dominates what can be broadcast, ensuring that conservative views are aired. Browse for Sinclair on the web and you will get a very good picture by reading only a few articles.
Saved the best for last . . . FOX news has captured the propaganda flag. The "entertainment" part of FOX dominates the air waves. A huge percentage of the American population listen to FOX exclusively. FOX listeners are less well informed than the rest of Americans.