We Need a New Strategy to Reach the Masses

Trump smoking gun

Here’s the problem we need to overcome. I’m making these numbers up, but–in my opinion–roughly 25 percent of voters follow the smoke and understand there’s probably a fire there. Possibly a big one. Another 25 percent, however–the white nationalist, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh audience of the world–would believe that Trump was born on the back of a unicorn next to the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow if it was reported from a fake news source.

That leaves 50 percent, though. Half of the country isn’t so gullible that they believe everything Breitbart and Infowars say, but they also aren’t engaged or interested enough to tell fact from fiction. Many of my friends and family honestly believe that BOTH sides are engaged in intentional misinformation, and when they see mounting evidence of collusion and treason with Russia, they shake their heads and just say they’re so tired of all the “partisan bickering”.

What baffles me is that many of the same people who had no issue buying into fabricated controversies like Behngazi-gate or Hillary’s email despite any actual facts and evidence, are more than willing to shrug off a mounting pile of both hard and circumstantial evidence from credible sources that suggest Trump and his team are working hand-in-hand with Russia. I mean, at this point it’s almost like catching someone next to a dead body with a bullet through his forehead and a man standing next to him literally holding the smoking gun while a puddle of blood forms around his feet, and saying “Well, that’s what that dead guy wants us to believe–but how do we know this is the guy who actually killed him?”

We need to figure out how to educate that 50 percent. How do we help people understand the difference between facts and “alternative facts”, between credible news and “fake news”, between partisan politics and treason?

I believe the first step is to educate them about the fact that Breitbart, Infowars, Fox News and similar fake news sources are not credible. They are purely conspiracy theory machines. They fabricate and distribute propaganda–with just enough real news to provide a hint of credibility.

CNN is largely to blame as well, though, as far as I’m concerned. Why? Well, everyone pretty much accepts that Fox is Right Wing / Conservative and MSNBC is Left Wing / Liberal–and that if you watch those channels you will get ostensibly credible information viewed through a biased lens. CNN, however, was the middle ground–the referee. In an effort to appear fair and balanced, though, it continues to hire blatant partisan hacks to represent the Conservative point of view and allow them to spew obvious lies on air on the same panel where credible sources are sharing valid information. It creates a false equivalency that makes the viewing audience feel both perspectives are equal but opposite, when the reality often is that one is right and one is a brazen lie.

Start with this chart. Share it. Share it on social media. Share it with your coworkers. Share it with your in-laws who insist that all of this Russia stuff is just nonsense invented by the left. Do what you have to do to convince more people to listen to and trust the sources in the top middle of this chart, and to absolutely reject and ignore anything beyond “skews” in either direction.

News Sources

Again, you won’t ever convince the 25 percent who are part of the Trump cult. When Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” those are the people he was talking about–and he’s right. But we have to find a way to educate and reach that 50 percent that is sane and rational and does care, but just wants to live in peace and lacks the energy to be politically engaged.

I’m not suggesting that politics doesn’t have a shady side, or that morals and ethics aren’t compromised on both sides of the aisle to some extent. But, as long as a significant percentage of the population buys into the false equivalency that everything is bad and both sides are dirty, they will simply remain on the sidelines shrugging their shoulders while a band of morons cash in as treasonous oligarchs for selling out our democracy to Russia.

Trump Should Try Getting His Intel from the Source

fake news

Donald Trump appears to be a rabid connoisseur of information. Unfortunately, even though he is President of the United States and has access to all of the best information, he chooses to follow sources that can best be described as viral deception–or VD–and drag the whole world along with him via Twitter.

Baseless Claims and Wild Accusations

A few weeks ago he made a baseless claim that there were 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast during the election. He also assumes in this fantasy that all of those fraudulent votes went to Hillary Clinton, and that he actually won the popular election despite losing by nearly 3 million votes in the reality the rest of us live in. The only actual incidents of voter fraud seem to be situations where Trump supporters were arrested for voting more than once.

This past weekend, the national embarrassment who currently occupies the Oval Office shocked the world–including his own cabinet and handlers it seems–by asserting that President Obama had ordered Trump Tower to be tapped and had gotten a FISA warrant approved to eavesdrop on Trump and his people during the campaign.

Although it sounds like it, it’s not that Trump was just on a bad trip and making stuff up. In both cases, Trump was apparently just repeating stories he heard from his VD sources.

We’ve renamed them “viral deception” to differentiate from actual fake news. There’s fake news where someone–either intentionally or inadvertently–gets a story wrong, and there’s fake news that’s satirical, like The Onion. Sources like Breitbart and Infowars are not fake news. They are viral deception. They are propaganda machines inventing and spewing conspiracy theories with no evidence or foundation in reality with the goal of intentionally deceiving and misleading readers.

It’s not just Trump, either. The VD has spread throughout the administration and affects even the Minister of Propaganda…I mean White House Press Secretary.

Sean Spicer made the bizarre claim, “James Rosen [a Fox News reporter] had his phone, multiple phones tapped.”

When James Rosen denied the claim and Spicer was asked to explain or clarify his comment, he responded, “There are multiple reports on this matter.” It seems, though, that when he says “reports”, what he means are baseless assertions from VD sources.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

I know that it won’t stop the insanity, but can someone with access to Dear Leader let him know that he actually has what may possibly be the very best sources of information at his disposal as the President. The Intelligence Community knows far more than Breitbart or Infowars can ever dream of.

It’s surreal.

Imagine an NBA basketball game. The coach sits his team down with time running out and tells the team, “OK. We’ve got this. You guys are doing great. Just keep playing hard.”

One of the players responds, “Um, coach? We’re losing by 35 points with 94 seconds left in the game. We’re getting crushed and there’s no chance of winning.”

And the coach replies, “I’ve seen many tremendous reports that say we’re winning. Twitter says we’re dominating.”

It’s ridiculous, right? I mean, the coach is AT the game. The coach has direct, firsthand knowledge of the current situation in the game.

It’s like a weatherman standing in the rain and saying that it’s sunny because he saw a report online that says so.

Here’s a hint for President Trump: There is virtually zero chance that Breitbart, Infowars, or any other source of VD is going to somehow have better or more accurate information than he has available from his own Intelligence Community. The White House Press Secretary is supposed to SUPPLY accurate and relevant information, not repeat the last stupid thing he saw from a VD source with no journalistic credibility.

When Donald Trump tweets, people listen. It’s sad, but true. That is the world we live in. When he makes a claim or accusation, people assume it–and he–is serious, even when there is absolutely no evidence to support it and the claim or accusation is ludicrous at face value. Investigations are launched and resources are wasted to investigate claims we know up front are false in an attempt to “prove” the unprovable.

You can only prove the existence or presence of something. You can’t absolutely prove the absence or lack of something. Even if we never find any evidence of the insane claims Trump and his surrogates make, the seed of doubt will still exist for the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists. It won’t mean it didn’t happen, it will just mean that the insidious people involved did a good job of covering their tracks. Trump–and his fans–are already convinced it happened because the VD source said so, and anything short of validation is just more evidence of the conspiracy.

There are only two real options. Either Donald Trump is batshit insane, or Donald Trump is a master of manipulation–creating massive distractions to keep his opponents’ eyes off the ball.

Wait, there’s a third option. All of the above.

 

Help Us, Obama-Wan, You’re Our Only Hope

Barack Obama

Ok. Not really our “only hope”. I mean, so far it seems that average citizens across the nation are doing a pretty solid job of protesting and making their voices heard. But, nobody can amplify that pressure and maximize exposure of resistance efforts like President Obama.

Trump loves him some Twitter, and he’s very proud of his nearly 26 million Twitter followers. It is an admittedly impressive following, even if many (possibly most) are like me and are actually only following for comedic value / damage control. We get  to watch things like Trump tweeting “I hear by demand…”. Doh! Delete. “I hearby demand…”. Doh! Delete. “I hereby demand…”–taking a mere three attempts to spell the word “hereby” correctly. Kudos, sir.

Trump has a pretty sizeable Facebook following with more than 21 million, and a decent following on the official POTUS Twitter (15.8 million) and Facebook (1.3 million) accounts, even though most of those are probably duplicates and he doesn’t really use those accounts. He also loves to fill a stadium with adoring fans and conduct rallies that make him feel better about himself after days or weeks of negative stories in the media from outlets with the audacity to report facts and reality–a.k.a. “Fake News”.

Whatever floats his narcissistic authoritarian puppet boat. More power to him.

Well, guess what–Trump’s social media audience is a small fraction of President Obama’s. The @BarackObama Twitter account has more than 85 million followers, and his Facebook page has nearly 55 million. Tack on another 7+ million Twitter followers and 17 million Facebook followers for Michelle Obama .

Obama can fill a stadium too. And he should. Or at least, I’d like him to. He looks like he’s really enjoying retirement, and I doubt he’s itching to dive back into politics by being the first former President to actively campaign and lobby against the current President–but Barack Obama is uniquely qualified and suited to rally forces and lead the Resistance movement.

Each day of the Trump regime thus far has been like drinking from a firehose. The administration does so many outrageous, treasonous, ridiculous, embarrassing and otherwise mind-blowing things day-to-day that it’s challenging. When everything is worthy of resistance, it’s a challenge to choose how to invest limited time and resources. It’s also difficult to maintain the level of energy and commitment necessary. We’re only a couple months into a 4-year term and so far being part of the resistance feels like having a second full-time job.

I’d love to see Obama do a monthly rally. Travel around the country and fill a football stadium to capacity and just have Barack and Michelle show up to give speeches about what we’re fighting for and why. Invite others to speak. Get Katy Perry, or Madonna, or Beyonce to perform (may as well make it fun too). Keep people engaged. Give people a reason to fight. Let people know they’re not alone and that even though the fight is hard, it is worth it.

It would be unprecedented for a former President to challenge the current White House in that way (at least I’m not aware of a precedent for such a thing). Let’s face it, though. Everything about the Trump campaign, alleged collusion with an enemy nation, victory, and administration is unprecedented. Why not add one more unprecedented thing that can help people join together to defend the United States and stand up for the things that really make America great?

Besides, it would be really satisfying to get under the incredibly thin skin of Putin’s puppet by filling bigger stadiums than he can with tens of thousands of voters prepared to stand up to him.

How Is Russian Interference in the Election a Partisan Issue?

Uncle Sam

Concern that a foreign government actively interfered in our election process is not a partisan issue. At least, it shouldn’t be. It undermines our democracy and deserves our full attention. Even if you supported and voted for Trump, and you’re happy with the outcome of the election, as an American you should be outraged and concerned that Russia appears to have actively influenced our democratic process.

At this point, based on reports from the US intelligence community and the intelligence communities of multiple allies, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Russia engaged in an active effort to influence the Presidential election. The only reason I can see for trying to pretend that isn’t an issue, or shut down any attempt to investigate is if you are an accomplice and you’re afraid that the investigation will find that out.

At least four top GOP leaders or cabinet members have now been caught lying about interaction with Russia during the campaign. Is it possible that the communications were trivial and did not play any insidious role in the election? Yes. However, if the communications were innocent and there’s nothing to hide, why lie about them in the first place and why fight so hard against both the intelligence community and media efforts to investigate what happened?

Trump and his administration should want to get to the bottom of what happened for two reasons. First, as the leader of the United States and a citizen of this country Trump should do everything he can to determine what Russia did and what impact it may have had, and take any efforts necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Second, as the focus of allegations that he actively worked with Putin and the Russian government, Trump has a vested interest in conducting a comprehensive and transparent investigation to disprove those assertions. Of course, that assumes they’re just rumors and allegations and that the investigation won’t implicate the Trump administration.

The GOP is complicit now in efforts to cover up Russian interference and pretend it didn’t happen. To me, this indicates that the GOP is aware that there was Russian influence on the election and they’re afraid that admitting it will delegitimize their power. It will. But, no more so than actively covering up the obvious. Perhaps they’re actually concerned that there was direct collaboration and cooperation between Russian and the Trump campaign–and possibly Trump himself–which to me makes any effort to avoid a thorough investigation treasonous.

There are always winners and losers in our elections. There will always be some segment of the population that supported the losing candidate and will be disappointed with the results. When the dust settles, though, we are all Americans and we come together and work together as Americans. That’s hard to do when the administration in the White House appears to be a puppet regime of Putin’s Kremlin and the GOP that should provide the checks and balances on its power looks the other way.

Support the New York Times

newspapers

Facts matter. Truth matters. Organizations that have integrity and ascribe to journalistic ethics rather than simply acting as a propaganda echo chamber of the administration’s “alternative facts” have been labeled as “fake news” by Trump and his lackeys. The news organizations with the backbone to investigate reports of Russian meddling in the election and potential collusion with and by the Trump campaign and possibly Trump himself are being singled out.

It’s simple, really. If Trump, his Minister of Propaganda, or any other administration lackey calls a media organization “fake news”, that just means the organization in question is doing its job, reporting actual facts, investigating stories that matter, and getting under the (incredibly thin) skin of Trump and his people.

Support the New York Times. Support CNN, Politico, Time, and other news organizations that represent a free and independent press willing to do what it takes to make sure the public is informed rather than just conned.