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Irony of the Media using the term "Misinformation"

 Mark Bauerlein is an emeritus professor of English at Emory University who wrote:

When Donald Trump started talking about “fake news,” the charge hit home so squarely that the media had to come up with a strong rejoinder, something to deflect it. They couldn’t outright deny it, for too many news flashes turned out to be just that, altogether fake (the pee tape, Jussie Smollett, the Covington boys …). So, in customary fashion when pinned down by a potent accusation, the media have taken a lesson in leftist tactics and bounced the accusation right back, though choosing a different label.

The word they prefer is misinformation. Fake news is too glib, too slogan-like, for media figures who fancy themselves educated and urbane. Misinformation has a technical ring to it. If you call something “fake news,” you sound like a guy at a football game who spots a penalty committed by the other team: “Hey, that’s pass interference!” But if you assert, “That’s misinformation,” you sound like an expert, one who is acquainted with the facts, who possesses accurate information, who is informed. It says, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” but with a word big enough to be intimidating...

...  There is an irony in this. I cannot tell you how many times over the years, particularly in the 1980s and ’90s, in meetings and at conferences, in books and in articles, I heard and read academics insist upon the pragmatic and political nature of “truth.” (They often put scarequotes and sneerquotes around the word.) The very idea of objective truth was the prime example of naivete, they insisted, and every aspiring humanist had to learn that lesson. Human interests are everywhere; politics never stops, not even in the hard sciences. Nietzsche himself declared, “There are no facts, only interpretations,” and nobody has more authority in 1985 than he did (Foucault, the leading theorist of that moment, was himself an avid Nietzschean).

In the theory seminar in those days, to assert a distinction between information and misinformation was to forget the most basic catechisms of theory. Don’t be so gullible and credulous as to trust in a truth untouched by desire, power, patriarchy, class interests, and other social shapers of the world we inhabit, we were told. The whole idea of objectivity is suspect. Worse, it’s reactionary.

And here we are now, with liberals returning to the old ways. They have dropped Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, feminism, deconstruction, Foucault, pragmatism (Rorty), and postmodernism, and gone back to the scientific outlook they used to deride. It works for them now, it’s in their favor, so they go with it. Don’t call them hypocrites, don’t accuse them of double-standards. The left uses weapons that are effective, now this one, now that one. An unprincipled approach to truth gives them the flexibility to adjust when conditions change.

The first apprehension a conservative should pursue, then, doesn’t set out to expose the inconsistency. A conservative should assume inconsistency from the start and ask, instead, “Why this weapon, and why at this time?” As I stated above, I think the misinformation tactic not only does the obvious labor of discrediting conservative belief in an overt act of calling it misinformation. It also counters the highly successful Trump tactic of “fake news.” And what that means is that conservatives should press ever more strongly the “fake news” theme, and they should include “misinformation” in the corpus of liberal fakery.

As has been noted, the left attacks that which threatens it. The misinformation push is a sign of conservative effectiveness. Do not run from the charge, and do not defend yourselves against it. Instead, keep up the pressure that evoked “misinformation” in the first place. And be sure to enjoy the moment. []


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