That Putin lies is an accepted truth (ironic, eh?). And that Western MSM spews false and ‘Merica-slanted news is also now a widely held belief. We get the propaganda, too. Throw in the mad participants of social media (and I suppose this blog qualifies) and the truth is more than elusive, it is impossible to find. And I think most people feel that way.
But maybe we can still believe our liars more than their liars? I mean, almost everything I have ever known firsthand that made it to the MS media was wrong. Virtually everything had a twist, emphasized the wrong thing, had errors and, in some cases, reported bald-faced lies. Journalists have personal biases, deadlines, editors, advertisers and their own mortgages to worry about and getting the real facts out about Skid Row or my Refugee work or my live-aboard days or even my time with delinquent youth was just NOT that important to them. And, in a way, they were right.. no one remembered the article or interview three days later anyway.
But I am inclined to believe our guys a bit more than their guys. Call me a dupe, but I do. I know that they are sloppy, they adhere to tight schedules, small facts are NOT that crucial to the story and all the excuses they may have but I KNOW they do report on topical events that I know happened. I mean, the western media is mostly based on some kind of reality. I mean: January 6th really happened. The Dumb Convoy really happened. Russia, China and many others just make crap up to suit them. And they kill anyone who disputes it. That has to say something for the veracity of our media. No?
Anyway, the upshot of all that is most people just shrug now and say, “Aww, it’s all BS. Them. Us. All lies!” and, because of that, they do not have to give it another thought. It is weirdly counter-intuitive to think that a large part of lying is not so much the actual dissembling of any one event or fact but rather the more subtle effect of making people disengage from seeking the truth.
So much BS spewed from Trump that, at one point, I just shrugged and mumbled ‘same ol’, same ol’ and went about my business. The guy’s lies had the unexpected affect on me of just NOT paying attention anymore. I became enured to Trump. Habituated. And, in that way, accepting. And, in that way too, he just dug a bit deeper into the collective psyche.
More succinctly put: the errors and even the lies are not as vulnerable-making as the ambivalence, boredom and fatigue it all generates. The real evil is apathy and that is what fake news (whether it is extreme like Putin or ‘normal’ like CBC and friends). It’s all like a disease, really. It is hard to stay healthy and engaged when you finally conclude that you know nothing and and can do nothing. Apathy spreads. And, in that way, Putin and Trump win.
I have a lot of Chinese friends. I read some Asian news sources. I hear stuff, see the pictures, read the articles. Sometimes those stories concern me so I contact my friends. “Oh, Dave, do not worry. Mother China is great, doing a really good job. There is nothing of concern here. You are reading ‘westernized’ Asian news. They lie. It’s all good here.”
Which seems harmless enough….until they add: “It really ticks me off how the world hates China and the USA wants to go to war with us. Why would they want that? Why do gweilo hate Asian people? The Hong Kong Democracy movement was because of all US-based infiltrators.”
And so Chinese propaganda managed to make ‘irritation-with-the-west’ out of that student-led demonstration. They blamed the ‘Merican CIA. I dunno….maybe…but, honestly? To my mind that was a home-grown movement and blaming the CIA is a huge stretch. Sadly, the secondary effect is also there: “I never watch western news anymore. All anti-China lies!”
And so it goes. So, what have I concluded? Basically the same as everyone else but as soon as I noticed that the secondary effect was affecting me, too, and that I was reading less and believing less, I realized that I was thinking less and falling victim a second time. I have to keep at it. I have to read everything I can. I need to talk and think about it. I want folks who live in other countries to tell me what they think (and what they are TOLD to think). To do otherwise is to set yourself up for the slaughter.