“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned covering the daily information wars of the Trump era is that a meaningful percentage of Americans live in an alternate reality powered by a completely separate universe of news and information.
Some are armed with their own completely fabricated facts about the world while others, as the journalist Joshua Green wrote in this section in 2017, rearrange our shared facts “to compose an entirely different narrative.” There is little consensus on the top story of the day or the major threats facing the country. You will have noticed this if you’ve ever watched a congressional hearing and flipped between CNN or MSNBC and Fox News. The video feed is the same but the interpretation of events is radically different.
Personally, I’ve never seen a clearer demonstration of the Two Universes phenomenon than this week’s Republican National Convention.
For three nights, in a shameless display of loyalty to President Trump, the party has conjured up what my colleague Frank Bruni described as an “upside-down vision” of the world. Theirs is a universe in which the coronavirus pandemic is largely in the rear view (on Aug. 25, 1,136 Americans died from the virus) and where, according to Representative Matt Gaetz, radical Democrats threaten to “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.” A universe where the existential dangers of climate change pale in comparison to those of cancel culture — even as the West is ravaged by blackouts and wildfires and the Gulf Coast is slammed by a devastating hurricane.
This week, my colleague Jamelle Bouie described some of what we’re seeing as the “Fox Newsification of the Republicans” by “a president who rose to political power via the cable news channel and who exists in a codependent relationship with the network.”
- Give the gift they’ll open every day.
The comparison is apt, as Fox News has been extremely successful in crafting and selling an alternate reality to its viewers each night for well over a decade. The trick is to evoke two dueling emotions — fear and devotion — one conspiracy theory at a time. Fox News has mastered this and so has the R.N.C.”
David Lindsay: Yes, all too true. But there might be some solutions to this mess out there. President Ronald Reagan somehow cancelled a rule or law of the FCC that said in order to broadcast news, you had to allow equal time to the main opposing position of any postion you took or reported on. Before then, all news shows were more or less balanced. After this rule was abolished, right wing news channels like Fox went all out for spin and opinion and even lies, in the name of journalistic truth.We should bring back the fairness in reporting doctrine.