Post-Truth in the NY Times
We are seeing now more than ever that we are living in a world where many truths and lies perforate popular media and news sources. In the NY Times article, “Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready” Thomas Edsall discusses the “polarization of reality” in relation to President Donald Trump’s 2020 election campaign as well as, how Democrats and Republicans see the same reality in two completely opposite ways. A large emphasis is placed on how “transgressive advocacy” – lying to achieve a preferred outcome – has become President Trump’s go-to political strategy when it comes to being re-elected in 2020.
The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, has documented that Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years.”Thomas Edsall for the NY Times
It isn’t only Trump who is using such a facade to win political favor and/or elections, according to the article other political leaders may also be using this method as a crux in political competition. The general point of this article was to show that armed with all of these different ways to spin misinformation Trump’s larger goal is to make individuals – even those very media literate – question second their nature truths making it harder for them to peel back layers of falsehood in today’s media. This uncertainty is aimed to make those individuals call their beliefs into question more frequently, leaving a crack in the door open for Trump’s misinformation to take root in their beliefs.
This spread of misinformation isn’t only seen in the United States, it is a global phenomenon. Another NY Times article titled “Post-Truth Politics Afflicts the Global South, Too” explores the scale of the political issue which we are facing. Social media is heavily discussed by the author Laura Chinchilla, as one of the reasons that misinformation is spreading so fast and on such a large scale. The platform Whatsapp – an end-to-end encrypted messaging service – is discussed as one main reason how the spread of post-truth politics happens on such an unregulated scale, as there is no traceability to who sent which message to whom. This increases the chances of misinformation spreading during elections and other major political occurrences.
Unlike many of the partner organizations our classmates are working on, Crossing Party Lines (CPL) does not take a single-party stance and instead argues for the very dismantling of post-truth politics via conversation. Prior to each meetup held by CPL, participants are required to read pre-meetup material in an effort to situate everyone around the same information before going into discussions. While these individuals are still largely influenced by the media they receive on either side of the post-truth realm, the readings are a direct way to set up participants for more successful engagement that is not solely based on their predetermined political ideas.
Our challenge as engaged citizens is to learn how to navigate the vast amount of real and fake news at the tips of our fingers and all over our screens.”Crossing Party Lines
In March of 2018 CPL held a virtual meetup focused specifically on “Fake News” and teaching participants how to both detect it and reduce its significance in their lives. Although the phrase was thrown around frequently throughout the 2016 election, the emphasis on the buzz word did not actually center around how to identify it. Even the simple act of educating people on the reality that they may be receiving different political information can evoke a certain sense of unanimity between Republicans and Democrats. The fact that CPL is focusing on this “touchy” topic with both Democrats and Republicans demonstrates their commitment to the crucial topic of post-truth politics. Even though CPL cannot control the degree of media literacy people acquire from this event, the important point is that topics like these are openly discussed. While conversation alone will not dismantle the severity of alternative facts in American politics, CPL and other organizations planning these cross-party meetups play a key role in facilitating a common ground that can lead to shared understandings.
Sign up for CPL events here.
- Chinchilla, Laura. 2019. “Post-Truth Politics Afflicts the Global South, Too.” The New York Times. The New York Times. October 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/politics-global-south.html.
- Thomas, Edsall. 2020. “Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready.” The New York Times. The New York Times. February 12. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/opinion/trump-campaign-2020.html.
- Schulten, Katherine, and Amanda Christy Brown. 2017. “Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News.” The New York Times. The New York Times. January 19. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/learning/lesson-plans/evaluating-sources-in-a-post-truth-world-ideas-for-teaching-and-learning-about-fake-news.html.