Living outside of the United States for most of the year, I keep up with the news there, including the political developments, mostly via the internet. I try to keep in mind that what I might read on the internet may be a little hyped, and that America still holds large areas of reason and tolerance, despite what one assumes from the blogosphere.
But, a week into my stay, what I see is a nation bombarded with misinformation right and left, until only the most dedicated fact-seekers know what’s what anymore. Take, for example, an entry from the “sound-off” section of my local newspaper. This is usually a mishmash of complaints, questions, sometimes praise, and always some astroturf GOP talking point. Today, this:
President Barack Obama expanded the war in the Middle East by going into Afghanistan. We hear nothing reported about it on network or cable news. Since 20009 the lives of 2,000 brave soldiers have been lost there and thousands have returned with life changing injuries. Obama never justified going into Afghanistan. I am wondering why are we there?
Now, this is not a completely stupid person — everything is spelled correctly, the sentences are structured well enough. I suppose it may have been a call-in which was then dictated by a newspaper employee. But… wtf? Is this deliberate disinformation or from someone who just woke from a coma? And why does the paper print it?
I suppose another answer would be that the paper is writing this stuff itself, for a little agitprop fun.