Alternative Media Help Restore the Balance of Power Between People and Politics
Researcher David Lazer and others state that “shifts in the media ecosystem raise new concerns about the vulnerability of democratic societies to fake news and the public’s limited ability to contain it.”
The public’s ability to vet the mainstream media is equally limited, but why has that never been considered a threat to democratic societies? Modern democracies seem to have elevated official media to the position of government soothsayers whose truths may not be questioned.
And that is why democratic societies need ‘fake’ news, or alternative news, in order to democratize the official narratives. The fake news phenomenon, although indeed moving between inaccurate, subjective and provably false, provides a necessary check on the balance of power between a people and its government.
Governments no longer dictate the truth. When democratic governments think they ought to engineer the truth, or that they have a mandate to nudge an ‘ignorant’ citizenry into obedience, are they still democratic? By democratizing the truth, alternative news media may prevent democratic societies from slipping into totalitarian states.
Of course, powerful special interest groups operating behind the curtains of democratic elections have reason to fear fake news, since an “abundance of information sources online leads individuals to rely heavily on heuristics and social cues in order to […] shape their beliefs, which are in turn extremely difficult to correct or change.”
Lazer and his colleagues thus admit that the real problem societies face is not fake news, but the increasing difficulty government educators face in engineering their people’s beliefs. In other words, the abundance of alternative news has drowned out the official narrative.
The internet has created a market for alternative news. This development seems inevitable and irreversible, a consequence of the democratization of news brought about by social media. But the social engineers who think they ought to design our societies to match their own best interests feel they are losing their grip on a stubborn people.
The methods Lazer et al promote to combat fake news amount to nothing short of communist censorship. Even more hilariously, Lazer recommends “involving more conservatives in the discussion of misinformation in politics”. Fake news isn’t just fake, it’s conservative. Lazer sees no problem stating that “misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right”.
The word “pathology” means diseased—anyone who does not support the progressive narrative is written off as mentally ill, a maneuver to disable political opponents once applied on an apocalyptic scale by Joseph Stalin.
Of course, a lot of what progressives call news is perceived as fake by others, and not just by conservatives. The political spectrum isn’t as bipolar as mainstream media want us to believe. The only difference is that progressive activists have long seized control of mainstream media to spread their own fake news.
That’s why the public needs a healthy dose of alternative news in order to correct the one-sided progressive worldview that confuses opinion with universal truth. The belief that the world is somehow moving towards Elysium may very well turn out to be progressive self-delusion.
in Journalistic Practice et al., “Combating Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action,” Shorenstein Center, May 2, 2017, https://shorensteincenter.org/combating-fake-news-agenda-for-research/.