Speaking Of Deplorables…

I’ve been enjoying the obvious struggles of Elon Musk, who looks more and more like the dog who caught the car as he tries to change Twitter into whatever it is he thinks it should be. (Some of you will remember “The Peter principle”…)

America is awash in misinformation, and Twitter–both before and after its overpriced acquisition–is a significant contributor. But it’s only fair to note that the pollution of the information environment isn’t simply a consequence of social media. A regular reader sent me a recent, unfortunately representative example of Republican contributions to  the cesspool that has replaced so much of our public discourse.

A November 5th article from the New York Times was titled “How Republicans Fed a Misinformation Loop About the Pelosi Attack,” and I am reproducing much of it below.

Within hours of the brutal attack last month on Paul Pelosi, the husband of the speaker of the House, activists and media outlets on the right began circulating groundless claims — nearly all of them sinister, and many homophobic — casting doubt on what had happened.

Some Republican officials quickly joined in, rushing to suggest that the bludgeoning of an octogenarian by a suspect obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories was something else altogether, dismissing it as an inside job, a lover’s quarrel or worse.
The misinformation came from all levels of Republican politics. A U.S. senator circulated the view that “none of us will ever know” what really happened at the Pelosis’ San Francisco home. A senior Republican congressman referred to the attacker as a “nudist hippie male prostitute,” baselessly asserting that the suspect had a personal relationship with Mr. Pelosi. Former President Donald J. Trump questioned whether the attack might have been staged.

The article provided a list of elected officials and pundits (“prominent figures”) who spread fabrications and really vile speculations about the attacks.

The flood of falsehoods showed how ingrained misinformation has become inside the G.O.P., where the reflexive response of the rank and file — and even a few prominent figures — to anything that might cast a negative light on the right is to deflect with more fictional claims, creating a vicious cycle that muddies facts, shifts blame and minimizes violence.

It happened after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which was inspired by Mr. Trump’s lie of a stolen election, and in turn gave rise to more falsehoods, as Republicans and their right-wing allies tried to play down, deny or invent a different story for what happened, including groundlessly blaming the F.B.I. and antifa. Mr. Pelosi’s attacker is said to have believed some of those tales.

“This is the dynamic as it plays out,” said Brian Hughes, a professor at American University who studies radicalism and extremism. “The conspiracy theory prompts an act of violence; that act of violence needs to be disavowed, and it can only be disavowed by more conspiracy theories, which prompts more violence.”

The article reported on the parade of Republicans and right-wing media personalities (including, of course, Tucker Carlson and Elon Musk) who abetted the viral spread of lies about the attack, “distorting the account of what happened before facts could get in the way.”

The article proceeded to document the “dark web” source of scurrilous speculation, and the movement of that speculation from those sources to the mainstream.

Many Republican leaders did denounce the violence and a couple expressed sympathy for the Pelosis, but “none of them publicly condemned the falsehoods their colleagues were elevating or did anything to push back on the false narrative. That left others to fill the void.”

“Just produce the police body cam, — why is that so hard?” Mr. Carlson demanded on his show on Wednesday night. Addressing those criticizing the conspiracy theorizing, he added: “We’re not the crazy people; you’re the liars. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, period.”

The disinformation surrounding the attack on Mr. Pelosi presented many of the standard elements of alt-right conspiracy theories, which relish a culture of “do your own research,” casting skepticism on official accounts, and tend to focus on lurid sexual activities or issues related to children, often driven by a fear of society becoming immoral.

The truly depressing bottom line:

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert, said no amount of evidence — be it police body camera footage or anything else — could get in the way of such falsehoods in the eyes of those who do not want to believe facts.

“It doesn’t matter when there are documents or sworn testimony claiming something is, in fact, not the case,” Ms. Jankowicz said. “There will be an elaborate reframing effort. If the footage was released, people would claim it was fabricated. There’s no bottom.”

Welcome to life in the cesspool.


  1. Your words are a life raft of sanity in a sea of muck! Thank you for helping me keep my head up.

  2. Would it not be some kind of wonderful if we could capture the abundant residual methane from the cesspool of misinformation and fiction conspiracy much more from the gas lighting of Tucker Carlson enough to heat homes of marginalized folk over hard winter.

  3. An example from my own family, a very surprising and disappointing situation for me. My granddaughter connected with an old college friend, fell in love and became engaged and later married. He is an intelligent, handsome, personable man and a loving husband and father BUT he is a Catholic Republican. He quickly brainwashed my granddaughter and her mother, my good friend and daughter-in-law, with Republican rhetoric which he proved conclusively to them by exposing them only to Fox News. Both my granddaughter and her mother and I had countless times watched MSNBC and occasionally CNN when they visited me; we were of one mind on issues such as being against racism, bigotry, sexism, antisemitism, anti-immigration, and on and on, human rights in other words. Soon questions to my granddaughter ended with her husband’s words pouring out of her mouth until I told her I only wanted to know what she believed, that ended all political and social issue conversations. She and her mother had of course voted for Trump and Republicans. Her mother continued visiting me and watching MSNBC with me; she was appalled at what she was seeing that contradicted everything she had been told but believed it to be the truth. She left one day in tears; she turned to me and said, “Every time I visit you, I leave here angry and afraid.” She later mentioned her deep regret for having voted for Trump.

    These situations have split families, friends and neighbors apart like nothing since the slavery issues took us to the Civil War. The issue remains and Trump loosed the right to hate and violence with new groups of “tribes” to hate and act against. Hillary Clinton should never have been forced to apologize for her term “a basket full of Deplorables”; a perfect fitting word to describe the continuing Republican party members. I have always thought her choice of term “basket full” to be childish and beneath her intelligence level…and ours.

    “There’s no bottom” This continuing “election night” is proving something about the American people; but we don’t yet know exactly what except the divisive issue remains in America.

  4. There is no such thing as a “disinformation expert” when it took many days before the truth was revealed – all the security cameras on the house were operating fine. Still, the Capitol Hill police weren’t watching them. The same day this tidbit was concluded (much like the 1/6 revelation), the Pelosi and Epstein cases were trending on Twitter. 😉

    So, Tucker is partially correct.

    Also, Twitter has served as an investigative tool for seeking the truth. You have to filter out all the nonsense surrounding it. This is the role of journalists. Instead of a case taking place 100% behind closed doors, now some of the sleuth work is done in open spaces like Twitter and Telegram.

    However, what you also see on Twitter is “bot farms” used by government intelligentsia to manipulate information to their liking. It’s the same people who manipulated data and information behind closed doors.

    This happens on your TV as well. Also, on the radio. Don’t take anything at face value. I believe the term once used for the marketplace – “buyer beware,” is relevant. Discernment is the key.

  5. JoAnn, I know exactly of what you speak. My reactionary Southern Baptist CULT “preacher” brother spews nothing but heresy, blasphemy and practices sacrilege. I finally had enough and told him exactly what I think of his so called MDiv from the basement of a “church”. In addition there’s his “doctorate” from a diploma mill. BTW, my doctorate was earned at Oklahoma State University. His behavior at Dad’s funeral was especially heinous. The only reason I didn’t tell him off then was that Mom was there.

  6. All this MAGA nonsense is wearing thin, especially on the young. The good news is that the youngsters saved democracy in the last 3 elections. And will probably continue to save it going forward. Unfortunately the ‘deplorables’ have been with us since the beginning and will continue to be with us. They are comparable to a cancer we can’t quite get rid of but never quite gets the best of us. Fortunately the young understand this better than their parents/grandparents. I look forward with optimism for our future if we can ever get this planet’s environment stabilized.

  7. Gee, Stan, thanks for the window into your family’s dysfunction. How are things in your escape pod?

    The lede for the Denver Post this morning addressed the need for the GOP to fix its brand. It’s BRAND? Really? If the brand includes Trump, their “brand” is predicated on lies. Easy call. What the GOP brand lacks is any ideas that actually benefit the citizens of the United States and the national, state and local levels. NADA.

    For this disinformation malaise to be ameliorated or removed from the body politic and airwaves of our country – and others too – is to put to the grave the operating philosophy employed by the egregious foursome of Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Dick Army and Newt Gingrich. Send back to the fetid cesspool and let’s see if a civil conversation in government could once again occur.

  8. People that voted for 45 think just like he does and that is the problem. They are brainwashed from Limbaugh, Tucker and the whole spiel from right wing media. Just like JoAnn’s post today, they live in a separate reality. My sis lives in Ft. Myers and she’s thinking of leaving. She said everything around the beach is Gone! It’s too hot in the fall and since the hurricane took away their play things, she’s ready to go. But she told me she’d like north or South Carolina because she’ll never live in a Dem state. Like she would know. She lived in NJ once about 30 years ago but in red states since. She is on disability, Medicare and SS. I doubt she’ll be around much longer and that’s okay. One less RWNJ voting for 45.

    Please know that my matter of fact post about her isn’t cruel. It’s payback for almost ruining my family relationships similar to what JoAnn describes. Peace out. Yay, we kept the Senate!

  9. Todd, your twitter bot farms run by government intelligentsia might not be too far off the truth, but you failed to ask yourself whose government? In addition, I have run into a few people that thrive off of chaos, and help feed sewage into the cesspit, not because they believe it, but because they think it’s fun and entertaining.

    When the barriers to publication are so low that all you need is an email address, the way to drown out the truth is to flood the “marketplace of ideas” with anything but.

  10. I’ve been busy, but I find this thread fascinating this morning.

    The delineation between The philosophical and the religious, is religion is based on faith, it is a belief! Philosophy is critical of that belief in faith. It’s not based on fact but based on opinions the theoretical portion of thought.

    Politics on the other hand is philosophy! Political theory is called political philosophy.

    So, when religion is philosophified, you basically have three sides to the same magnet or coin, religion, philosophy and politics.

    As in magnets, poles that are like charged repel, poles that are that are oppositely charged attract.

    This unholy Trinity you could call it, doesn’t attract scriptural teachings, it repels them. This unholy Trinity attracts the lawless! But the lawless also are repelled by scripture. So then you could actually say, the lawless, the philosophical, the religious, and the political, are all four sides of the same magnet or coin. All pushing against each other and not providing any sort of cohesion.

    Scripture on the other hand provides cohesion, if, you remove the philosophical additives of religion, including politics that leads to false equivalency.

    Today’s politics, philosophy, and religion, are really a poor forgery of scriptural teachings. It’s teachings are something that people would really desire, because it would bring stability. But they choose to embrace the forgery, and unfortunately it will be the demise of society as has happened many times over the millennia.

  11. Words distinguish “advertising” from “propaganda” but both reflect the same concept. Nothing in the concept requires truth at all much less truth whole and nothing but. Republicans have determined that their base actually reacts to conspiracy theories about Democrats more than the truth. As political advertising always does, they please the customer/victim.

  12. Todd is once again twisting the truth to fit his conspiratorial fantasies. And it didn’t take “many days” for the Pelosi facts to come out. Todd is seeing what he wants to see, just as when he says Twitter is a forum for truth. And Dan M. has rightfully indicated that the bots on Twitter are foreign government-operated; the Russians just admitted their interference in our elections. Todd is a big Putin fan, though, so that’s probably why he hasn’t commented on that. Todd is one of the disinformation purveyors, in my not-so-humble, discerning opinion.

  13. Those, like Tucker, spelled with an “F,” who claim to have found lies, are, themselves, the liars. They are playing the
    “Accuse your opponent of exactly what it is you are doing,” game.
    For a quick “Cliff Notes” lesson on right-wing lying, see today’s Thom Hartmann Report.

  14. I’d like to recommend a book by Mick West titled Escaping the Rabbit Hole. If you have a loved one you don’t want to give up on, you may find it helpful.

  15. What I find incredible is the way those same right wingers make jokes about the Pelosi attack at rallies. However, I understand it as soon as the crowd responds with laughter. There’s nothing funnier than attacking an 82 year old with a hammer, is there? That sociopathic response to a psychopathic joke is far more horrifying than the attack itself.

  16. Peggy – YES – a relatively minor example of the decline of our culture/language. Almost every day I cringe when reading the daily comics in the paper full of bathroom humor, sexual innuendo and tossed-off violence/bullying. It is as if the comics are not for children anymore…but, if they are, they are teaching crudeness/lewdness from young ages. IGIO.

  17. John, philosophy is written by people. Scripture was written by people. Every religion is based on faith. Faith is the insistence on believing something, not just in the absence of evidence, but in the face of what would otherwise be overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
    No one’s faith can be held superior to another’s because neither is based on reality.
    The reason why freedom of religion is so important is because it is the only alternative to religious war.
    No one has freedom of religion unless they have freedom from the religion of others. Expecting a Muslim to live according to Christian doctrine is unreasonable. Expecting an atheist to live according to any religious doctrine is also unreasonable. And that is why government must not be run according to religious doctrine. Not yours or anyone else’s.

    I’m tired of the so-called “mainstream” media, such as the NYT in the article Prof. Kennedy reproduced and quoted, referring to what Carlson and the majority of the present so-called [r]epublicans are doing as spreading “misinformation.” What they’re are doing is flat-out LYING, and most of them (not sure about MTG, LB, Herschel Walker and likely Trump) damn well know they are lying. It’s time the media calls it what it is.
    Will it make any difference? Probably not but call it what it is if you want to claim you are publishing facts.

  19. David F – Could it be because at least some of the news (especially the choice of what/who to cover) from NYT, PBS, etc. is a kind of opinion and not always factual? We are faced with a few “facts”, a lot of opinion and some out-and-out lies. Until we teach critical thinking, the media is very happy getting eyeballs/clicks by cruising the channels and grooming our divides.

  20. Many old fools on social media are now going with the “what is wrong with the young people” refrain.

    Cognitive dissonance is a powerful drug, Grandpa.

  21. Over it … just spent 45 minutes in a MRI. Cognitive dissonance resonates. 😎 Thank you.

  22. Hi Sheila, here is an article I read today in the Dakota Free Press. It has references to Indiana that may interest you or your readers. It’s not like we don’t have enough to worry about but here it is anyway:
    Researchers Find Rising Levels of Dicamba in Midwestern Women’s Urine
    Boy, talk about drift:

    Monsanto’s problematic herbicide dicamba apparently drifts further than neighboring fields. It’s ending up in our pee:

    Since 2017 — when the herbicide took on prominence and widespread use as an “over-the-top” spray for certain crops — there has been a more than 300% increase in levels of the chemical found in the urine of pregnant women in the region, according to the findings from the Heartland Health Research Alliance, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit.

    …Chuck Benbrook, the executive director of the organization said the results are remarkable, but not surprising.

    “We knew that there was a big increase coming,” he said. “The use of dicamba has increased more in the last five years than any other pesticide in the world.”

    …Many of the women who took part in the study were from Indiana, including the metropolitan Indianapolis area. Benbrook thinks that the findings indicate exposure to dicamba around the Midwest, given its prevalence in agriculture, and soybean farming in particular [“Why Is a Weedkiller Showing Up in Midwesterners’ Urine?” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2022.11.12].

    Should we be worried? Maybe not for a couple decades:

    It might take a while, though, before any possible health linkages surface. A 2020 study from researchers within the National Institutes of Health, for example, found dicamba was associated with heightened risks of liver and bile duct cancer, with lags of up to 20 years [SLPD, 2022.11.12].

    Dicamba still has to catch up with 2,4-D in polluting our bodies. HHRA reports that while the percent of urine samples from pregnant women has risen from 41% a decade ago to 65% now, 2,4-D has shown up in 100% of pregnant women’s urine samples since 2010. But both chemicals are showing up in greater amounts in pregnant women’s bodies.

    Heartland Health Research Alliance, “Herbicide Levels in Urine,” retrieved 2022.11.13.
    Heartland Health Research Alliance, “Herbicide Levels in Urine,” retrieved 2022.11.13.
    Heartland Health Research Alliance, “Herbicide Levels in Urine,” retrieved 2022.11.13.
    Heartland Health Research Alliance, “Herbicide Levels in Urine,” retrieved 2022.11.13.
    So if you’re out driving in the country and have to take a leak, don’t pull over to relieve yourself next to an organic farmer’s field. Your pee could contaminate those green fields with dicamba!

  23. Tucker Carlson, et. al. become more and more like the Q-Anon crazies who likewise purport false flags for any news they wish to re-frame. Case in point – Alex Jones said the Sandy Hook mass shooting of first graders was made up too. He’s FINALLY being brought to justice for the pain and endangerment he caused those grieving parents.

    Carlson joins a cavalcade of right-wingers who demonstrate no worry at all that their unsavory attacks endanger Democrats and their families, democracy, Republicans who don’t agree with Trump’s schtick, and others. I’ve reluctantly concluded that the Carlson crowd relishes and even takes pride in the violence they’ve spawned to solve the problems that losing elections cannot. Trump watched the Jan. 6th violence for hours while refusing to call for an end to it. While Paul Pelosi was in intensive care, Carlson and the right-wing disinformation network fabricated all sorts of smearing reasons for Pelosi’s assault by an attacker.

    When Republican House leader Steve Scalise was recovering from a shooting by a leftist, Democratic congressional leaders called for prayer for his recovery. When Paul Pelosi had his skull crushed by a right-wing attacker, right-wing media went into attack-and-smear mode. No prayers for Pelosi. The GOP used to characterize themselves as the pro-family, Christian values party. They fell from that standard long ago when they elected Newt Gingrich and a succession of other womanizing Congressman to House Republican leadership. Their long slide has continued and accelerated. Last Tuesday restored some faith that democracy may survive them after all, but it’s a constant struggle and not a pretty one. Thank you Sheila for helping us do battle.

  24. Sharon Miller,

    True in a sense, but, nowhere in Scripture does it tell the followers of the Mosaic law and before that the followers of the Abrahamic law covenant, or the law of Christ in the New testament, to become involved in politics! Benjamin Franklin was well versed in scripture, and he was well aware that scripture did not endorse politics.

    Caesars things to Caesar and God’s things to God! What does that mean? Pay your taxes, respect authority, obey secular law, but also love your neighbor, love God, and even love your enemy. Don’t covet what your neighbor has, including his wife, and don’t murder your neighbor! This was a Tenet in the old and New testament, it’s also a Tenet in the Muslim or Islamic religion.

    Religious wars were really not based on religion, but it was based on politics and power! Read Hebrews the 11th chapter, it might enlighten you on faith.

    What gives you your faith that humanity can solve its problems? Has humanity ever solved any of its problems? The answer would be a resounding no. Humanity has been destroying this planet for millennia, it’s just that with it’s technological advances, it’s able to destroy itself and the planet that gave birth to it!

    So it seems that your faith in the political realm or humanity itself, is sorely lacking or extremely misplaced.

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