Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Your action required - health care and smears

First, from MoveOn:

We are in a red-alert moment on the tax fight—which is now also a fight to save health care for millions of Americans.

Just yesterday, Republicans inserted a repeal of the health care individual mandate into the Senate bill—which would unravel the Affordable Care Act, resulting in 13 million more Americans without health insurance and premiums skyrocketing for everyone else.

And as soon as tomorrow, the House could vote on its own version of this tax scam—which Senator Bernie Sanders called "destructive, obscene, and immoral" in a recent email to MoveOn members. It would raise taxes for 36 million middle-class families, just to pay for giveaways to corporations and billionaires.

It's critical to join the tax fight now—and tonight, you can take part in a national organizing call with Sen. Bernie Sanders and other special guests to learn what actions we can take together to stop this GOP attack on tens of millions of families' livelihood and health care.

Click here to RSVP for the Ready to Resist call with Sen. Bernie Sanderstonight, Wednesday, November 15, at 7 p.m. Central Time


And now, a story about a non-story in the land of the right wing echo machine.

Who among us has not said, FB posted, Tweeted or otherwise conveyed our heat-of-the-moment thoughts about our parents, colleagues, friends, loved ones, pets, teachers, physicians, favorite band, elected officials, or other generic group? And who among us has then awakened to those thoughts highlighted in a FRONT PAGE La Crosse Tribune article similar in look and tone to those about murderers or other notorious criminals?

How could this happen? Welcome to the echo chamber of the right wing smear machine (RWSM)

As the Tribune tells it, "The tweets caught the attention last week of conservative Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling and the conservative media outlet Campus Reform ..." In other words, billionaires' right wing smear machine reads a college student's personal tweet, tweet gets spin treatment, spin story goes out to clone media outlets (I guess including the LaX Tribune (and we do mean LAX in this situation)), and presto: college student tweeter = major criminal with front page headlines.

This isn't new (see this 1996 article, or this 2007 Nation Magazine article about "The New Right-Wing Smear Machine") and it's not just a Wisconsin phenomenon. Last year's "Anatomy of a Smear," by famous climate scientist Michael E. Mann writing in Huffington post describes how a bit of his testimony before the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee was spun into propaganda gold by the national RWSM.

In Wisconsin, apparently, a smear campaign often starts with Media Trackers whose purpose seems to be blasting out "fake news" (we used to call this LIES) about their enemies. A similar non-story about Tony Evers was amplified by Wisconsin media recently (one hilariously headlining their FRONT PAGE piece, "Middleton teacher case becomes focus of governor's race" Well, no it didn't) but was so false that it failed to ignite (but probably had the desired effect to ignite the Republican base who may not bother to find out if the story is true or not).

At least the student targeted here is in good company. The RWSM is hard at work in Alabama, smearing women who are finally reporting their experiences with Creepy Clown Cowboy Roy Moore, and smears have long been used to silence environmental and peace activists.

This is one reason social media is so dangerous to our political health. We may think we are immune, too well educated or whatever to fall for their fake stuff, but just the act of seeing something over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, breaks people down, even people who know better. ("New research finds repeated false statements are more likely to be perceived as truthful, even when we have enough knowledge to contradict them.") Just one little crack or hole can let in a whole campaign's worth of polluted thought. And forget the Russians, the RWSM has whole organizations dedicated to bringing up fake new, false accusations, unfounded rumors, and much much more. Diane Ravitch lists some of the Bradley Foundation funded Wisconsin organizations that are the mirrors that concentrate the smears based on One Wisconsin's investigations into the funding and leadership of these groups.

But to get back to little La Crosse, what can we do to keep our only newspaper, our monopoly on printed news, from falling into the spin machine? Well, I think - FEED BACK. Call and write. Tell them how this is undermining their credibility and the good work of the great reporters who work at the Tribune and report on important stuff. Ask them why a college student's tweets belong on their front page? Do you have a subscription? Cancel it. Don't let this slide because it will just grease the skids for more and more RWSM crap masquerading as news. And really we can't afford that,

More links I couldn't fit in above (for your consideration):
Facebook is dangerous for democracy - and here's why
Social media and democracy: optimism fades as fears rise
Is social media destroying democracy?

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