Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

The country is perfecting a vast network of digital espionage as a means of social control -- with implications for democracies worldwide. read more


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Not $150. $1.50. One dollar and two quarters more. A week. We have reached peak aristocracy. Time to get out the guillotines. read more


The case against the FBI that's being assembled by Trump and his minions is not designed to convince dispassionate observers. It's only supposed to give the thinnest of cover to true believers -- and at least 34 senators -- to do what they are predisposed to do anyway, i.e., protect the president at all costs. read more


After nearly seven decades of marriage, 89-year-old Lucille "Lovey" Handelsman set the wheels in motion for the epic battle by deciding she doesn't want to be married to her 90-year-old husband, Burt, any more. Her decision, supported by the couple's three adult children, put in play the $500 million-plus real estate fortune the Palm Beach couple began building in the 1950s from their kitchen table in Brooklyn, N.Y. Besides the Palm Beach shops, their real estate holdings reach from Key West to upstate New York, with restaurants in Delray Beach and office buildings in West Palm Beach. read more


Friday, February 02, 2018

The Senate passed a bill that renders the national anthem gender neutral Wednesday despite the entrenched opposition of some Conservative senators. The House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a private member's bill in 2016 that would alter the national anthem by replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command" as part of a push to strike gendered language from O Canada. The bill was first introduced by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who died in 2016. It now must receive royal assent by the Governor General before it officially becomes law. read more


Comments

"There's no point in pining for a lost era when a small group of journalistic elites determined the national conversation; and the democratization of media has brought many benefits, not the least of which is empowering marginalized voices that had traditionally been ignored," Kirchick points out.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that, while the Internet has given everyone a platform to tell their own stories, many abuse that new power. One result of this media fragmentation is that Americans today live in entirely different information spaces, where the conception of what's true or false depends upon what cable network one views, radio show one listens to, or website one reads. In this sense, America is beginning to remind me of places I have traveled to in the former Soviet Union, such as Ukraine, where part of the country yearns to join the European Union and another believes Europe is a homosexual-fascist despotism.

In 1964, when the segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace mounted a longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the TV networks didn't even cover his campaign announcement and The New York Times put the news on page eleven of an inside section. Half a century later, when another highly improbable figure -- who, unlike Wallace, had never even held elective office -- glided down the escalator of his Manhattan skyscraper to declare his presidential candidacy, the media covered him obsessively and has never looked away. It is not just that we live in a country where celebrities can become presidents, as the many, ostensibly serious people advocating that Oprah Winfrey challenge Trump indicate. We live in a country where the very archetype of the tinfoil-hat-wearing crackpot, whose claim to fame is standing on a street corner shouting obscenities, can have the ear of the most powerful person in the world.

The author asks:

Why did Trump succeed where Paul repeatedly failed? Trump's unique attributes as a famous, charismatic television personality certainly account for much of his victory. So, too, does Trump's razor-like focus on immigration, an issue where Paul did not stake out a hard-right stance. But another significant factor has to do with the way in which a changing media environment made easier the dissemination of conspiracy theories. When Ron Paul started his political career in the 1970s, Americans' understanding of the world was largely shaped by three television networks, a few national broadsheets, a handful of preeminent newsweeklies, and their local newspapers. A select priesthood of journalistic gatekeepers effectively determined what qualified as news.

"Over the course of the century, electronic mass media had come to serve an important democratic function: presenting Americans with a single shared set of facts," writes Kurt Andersen in his new book about the uniquely American penchant for magical thinking, Fantasyland. By the 1990s, however, the rise of the Internet, conservative talk radio, and Fox News "were enabling a reversion to the narrower, factional, partisan discourse that had been normal in America's earlier centuries." Whereas in Paul's era, Americans suffering under the paranoid style of politics had to subscribe to a whole patchwork of snail-mail newsletters (many of which can be found within the vast archive of right-wing extremist political literature where I located Paul's oeuvre), today, one need only to log onto Alex Jones's Infowars site or read the president of the United States' Twitter account to discover the nefarious activities of those really pulling the strings of global events.

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