By today’s measure, the false viral email memes of a couple decades ago seem almost quaint – a mere nuisance-level concern to The Fourth Estate. Now fortified by the perfect electronic Pandora’s Box of social media platforms and weaponized by everyone from toxic chatrooms to The Kremlin, falsehoods are delivered to us with targeted precision by firehose. A painstaking journalistic dedication to the search for truth in pursuit of the highest ideals of democracy – admittedly not perfectible, but at least heading the right direction – can’t not be swamped by the speedy profusion of viral lies now being exponentially spewed.
So, what’s a country to do? We’ll ponder just how public discourse beats the profusion of propaganda when the online odds are stacked against it. We’ll talk electronic gaslighting, the first amendment and the re-pursuit of objective reality.
Neil Skene, former St. Petersburg Times Capital Bureau Chief, Florida Trend columnist, and a former editor of Congressional Quarterly.
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