Maleducation and Misinformation

John Schindler’s reminder is worth sharing, that as much as we might be inclined to scoff away progressive hysteria about “fake news,” deliberate propaganda and misinformation from our nation’s foes, like Russia, is actually a matter of concern:

Yet again, President Obama’s unwillingness to confront Putin and his regime about anything—Syria, Ukraine, deploying nuclear missiles next to Poland—only encouraged the honey badger in the Kremlin to grow more adventurous and aggressive. By refusing to debunk noxious Russian lies, Obama encouraged Putin to tell more of them—including about Hillary Clinton. This culminated in the Russian intelligence operation which employed Wikileaks as a front to disseminate Democratic emails which had been intercepted by Moscow—as I told you months ago, and which the National Security Agency has recently admitted.

Schindler states that the Obama administration initiated and then swept away a new unit to quickly respond to Russian propaganda, leaving subversive material to float around the Internet and social media.  He never quite gets to the core of the problem, though: Among those susceptible to persuasion by propaganda against the Democrats, generally, and Hillary Clinton, specifically, the administration and the mainstream media that would have promulgated its rapid responses have little credibility.  Debunking foreign spin would have been (and has been) dismissed as mere dishonest propaganda from the American progressives who’ve been running the White House and news media for years.  (And let’s not forget that nobody has shown the Wikileaks emails to be fake or even modified.)

The core of the problem, in other words, is a collapse of American institutions.  The influence of Russian propaganda is merely a symptom, and a relatively mild one, at that.

The Obama administration earned a reputation for dishonesty, partisanship, dubious integrity, and a lack of integrity.  The news media — the “fourth estate” — has been exposed as partisan and ideologically biased, at least at the national level.  Worst of all, our education system isn’t furthering the sort of critical thinking that would empower Americans to sift through propaganda efficiently.

We can discuss whether all of these weaknesses grew from the design of domestic progressives’ attempting to subvert American society.  Indeed, some conservatives trace the bias in the news media and academia back to subversive Soviet efforts, which would suggest that the broad attempt to undermine our society has merely moved on to a more-acute stage of leveraging the resulting fragility.

Either way, we desperately need a return to reality and a good ol’ American ability to spot it.

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