Inside The Political Echo Chambers
The Good Life
Each day, I tiptoe into the politically far-right networks’ echo chambers.
First, though, I find out what did happen in the world via the web sites of news organizations that focus on “news. Here is what I learned on Wednesday, Feb. 17:
≤ Dozens of people died when Arctic temperatures snarled Texas’ electric power grid, British Broadcasting Company site.
≤ Europe is getting 30 percent less of the Pfizer COVID vaccine than it ordered, Reuters news service.
≤ Israel finally allows COVID vaccinations in Hamas-run Gaza, Associated Press.
≤ Japan to pay United States almost $2 billion toward costs of keeping American military in Japan, Al Jazeera English.
Those story lines tell me what happened. They don’t try to say what should have happened.
After I am fortified by reality, I dip into these stories from the propaganda echo chamber:
≤ Trump lackey Larry Kudlow attempts to justify a “hot microphone” critique of Vice President Kamala Harris, Townhall.
≤ Another Trump toady, former ambassador Ric Grennell, says that President Biden had better call Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and quickly, today, or else! Newsmax.
Notice anything different?
Townhall and Newsmax do not tell us what happened. They tell us how to think about Democrats– and we are supposed to think negative thoughts.
There would be nothing wrong with that if Townhall and Newsmax would quit pretending to be news sites, where Americans should find out what is happening.
If we go to news-based sites, we learn about awful weather, COVID problems, military spending.
If we go to Townhall and Newsmax, we learn that Kudlow called Harris’s actions the stuff that comes out of the south end of a northbound cow.
What about One America network, another far-right site? I followed it during the last month of President Trump’s term. I quit it to save time, because the three sites echo each other and One America is the poorest-edited and most boring.
What about Fox News?
I get there, too.
Fox has lost millions of TV viewers and computer web site browsers to the right-wing networks and to even more biased “chat” sites, ever since it had the gall to tell Americans on Election Night 2020 that Trump was projected to lose Arizona, a crucial swing state.
The echo chamber crowd does not care that Fox’s prediction turned out to be accurate. Those Americans who quit watching Fox did not want to know what was happening. They only wanted to be told that what they wished (Trump would win) was actually happening, even though it did not happen.
That’s called “delusion.”
No wonder some deluded Trump supporters, seasoned with a sprinkling of QAnon anarchists, rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They were outraged! Trump was going to lose the election if Congress finished counting the Electoral College votes that day!
That could not happen! Trump must have won! Trump himself told us he won! Trump told us for months that he could lose only if the election had been stolen! (Note the exclamation points! The far-right echo chambers thrive on exclamation points!)
The suffering people of Texas, freezing to death in the state that produces more energy than anywhere else in America, are also shocked and outraged this week. They had been told from birth that Texas is bigger, better and badder than any other state, including in energy production. Then they found out that, to save money, the regulators of Texas’ power grid did not winterize Texas’ turbines, did not bury the water lines that keep gas-fired electrical generators running, etc.
All hat and no cattle, so the saying goes.
That’s also what I find these days within the far-right echo chambers. They feed us what they want to have happening in the world around us, never mind what actually is happening.
Why do I go there? I want to know what they are feeding their viewers. What they are feeding includes opinions that I ought to know as a politically informed American, just as my parents’ generation needed to know the views of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. Knowledge is power.
But unless we get outside our closed-minded echo chambers, on the right or on the left, we come to believe that the wish-it-happened-so-it-did-happen hogwash is factual.
That explains a lot about why rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. I didn’t see them as insurrectionists bent on overthrowing the government. I think they were people who had been genuinely shocked that what they had been told for months is true turned out to be a lie. Trump did not win. Trump lost by EIGHT MILLION VOTES. They were stunned, disbelieving — and gullible and inclined toward violence.
That’s what happens when we keep ourselves locked up in delusional echo chambers and don’t check in with actual news sites.
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.