KEEPING THE REPUBLIC IN OUR NEW ERA OF POST-TRUTH POLITICS

wsj-trump-re-voter-fraud-222Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2016

Well, Doctor, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?  

A republic, if you can keep it.

Benjamin Franklin, 1787

Post-truth, adjective

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Oxford English Dictionary word of the year, 2016

Rarely have fake news websites received so much attention in the 2016 presidential election and days leading to Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.  As a consequence, many commentators are newly addressing the serious challenge to the role a free press plays as a critical check on public malfeasance.

Despite explanations regarding the failure of the media to hold Donald Trump accountable for his many exaggerations and contradictions, citizens are left feeling powerless to do anything about it, especially if they have deficient critical media literacy skills.

Never has there been a better moment for citizens to play an active role in understanding how commercial media both profit from and encourage our new state of post-truth politics, and begin to do something about it.

Such as contacting the Wall Street Journal about their failure to provide critical coverage of his false claims of voter fraud and potential massive conflicts of financial interests as President. Or thanking Buzzfeed News and PRI for their coverage explaining how teenagers in Macedonia make money generating fake news stories appearing on American social media websites.

Critical media literacy education (CMLE) is suddenly something our democracy needs to take more seriously. Were Ben Franklin around to comment, he would surely agree.

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