A Genuine Crisis.

The US Capitol was violently attacked, on January 6, 2021.


Much of the anger in the aftermath has been rightly directed at our political class.

A group of Republican politicians, loyal cabinet members and staff. Well-paid, and pampered followers ... not leaders of any kind. They knew well enough to warn about Trump when he was a candidate, but today find themselves either feigning distance, or stuck clinging to their dear Leader.


The trope about an undisciplined New York businessman belies the truth of a calculated huckster. Trump is a shrewd demagogue, and marketing professional - keenly aware of his formal and informal power.


Our nation is paying a dire price for elevating this charlatan.

"LEVELS"


The outgoing President of the United States, and his team of sycophants, have been attempting a slow-moving coup since losing the election in November 2020. Their cynical efforts and lies led to a violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol Building, January 6, 2021.


To understand how disinformation could confuse millions, and motivate thousands of people into a violent frenzy, I think we need to take a wider view.


Tucker Carlson is a formidable media and right-wing presence, as an anchor for FOX News. His show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, has a unique legal distinction.

In court last year, lawyers for FOX argued successfully that “reasonable” viewers should watch the show “with an appropriate amount of skepticism”.

"It’s a beat change, if you’re an actor … You can even see it on his face. He gets serious. He’s not being dramatic." -FOX News Lawyer

To clarify, Tucker Carlson wants millions of cable news viewers at home to discern his facial expressions, and subtle ‘beat changes’ - while streaming from TVs and cellphones. Only by developing a grasp of Tucker’s “serious face” will viewers know if they’re watching either “A serious effort to discuss important truths in the real world” or “A bogus dumpster fire”.


Sadly, even if someone could convince Tucker to respect and/or care about his audience ... the problem persists.


By now, “Newsy Sounding Garbage” has proven itself as a business model ... inspiring new, unscrupulous media enterprises. SOME New Media players are eager to compete by further lowering journalistic standards, leaning into clickbait distortions.

Clicks. Views. Shares. Audiences.

Ad revenue.

Everything else is filler.


Ready to supply any void in the market, these content platforms openly venture to deliver the most sensational rightwing partisanship and conspiracy theories, to a thoroughly confused viewing audience.


The dangerous plot further thickens as just below that gutter, a robust sewer thrives. An expanding industry of political personalities - commentators, tweeters, book sellers, Youtubers, media entrepreneurs - all clamoring for attention. Broadcasting their lazy takes, moving their branded merch, peddling their music, monetizing outrage.


One example of this is "Harlan Hill". A chubby faced, child-like figure who contaminates our public discourse every time he tweets to his 160K followers.

Each morning, Harlan commits himself to retweeting only the worst comments on the platform. He promotes his book, lands on TV - for some reason - and fashions himself president of a “PR strategy firm”.

Harlan dutifully conjures up grievance, and topical, Trumpist tweets 7 days a week … simply as part of his personal branding strategy.

Take a moment to think about that ... and what it means for our society.


There are HUNDREDS of little Harlans, at varied levels of success and disrepute. Naturally, the nation's political capital is burdened with a disproportionate number of these invertebrates.


Many are fully independent actors - in a market for views, legitimacy, and access.

Performing overconfidence” is perhaps their only real product, or innovation.

Seeking to garner favor from the increasingly brazen liars, just one level up.


Can you imagine? Knowingly betting their fortunes, and reputations, on mass delusion ... and then, winning that bet. Lol.

Ours is a decadent culture that holds money and status as top values, and this is just one harmful byproduct. An American culture, which could see itself collapse under the weight of its own deep-rooted indifference.

"HONEST WORDS MATTER"


Public trust in our government and elite media has long been eroded.

But Donald Trump, and his resilient group of political allies have aggressively assaulted the national consciousness, over the last four years. In his final days, Trump organized a mob, and professed that they’d march to the Capitol together.

He lied to them yet again ... sitting giddily in the White House, while his deranged fans were injured, tear gassed, and imprisoned for their violent siege on the Capitol.

Five lives were lost in the raid, on January 6, 2021.


I think that Donald Trump’s tenure has been an interesting test of a theory about the nature of human experience ...

  1. That the complex truth of any event can only be understood through perspective. A narrow, subjective story.

  2. That these subjective stories - our truths - can be manipulated, through powerful emotion, confusion, group bias, and repetition.

By leveraging lessons from his TV celebrity, the power of the internet, and the awesome legitimacy of the Oval Office, Donald Trump has roused an unprecedented network of motivated Digital Obscurantists, and continues to literally implant false realities in the minds of his fanbase.


This is NOT left vs. right. This is cynical opportunism vs. truth.

It is my view that typical efforts to broadly censor and de-platform will prove ineffective, even counterproductive, in this battle of ideas.


Already, after the failed coup, these invested political entrepreneurs are adjusting their positions, testing new material, crafting stories about victimhood and free speech.


We will have to teach and encourage the skills of discernment.

To avoid our own confirmation biases, and low-information slogans.

To become appreciative of doubt, and suspicious of certainty.

To value truth, nuance and honesty ... over group loyalty, or party affiliation.


Genuine experiences, and exchanges of honest ideas, are the foundations upon which we might begin to cut through noise; to understand each other, and the world around us.


-Billy


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Billy.buntin

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