I just encountered an article raising the very troubling possibility that–in the absence of clearly trustworthy and widely trusted sources of information, all of us, Right and Left alike, get played–purposely or not– by people pursuing partisan agendas.
As regular readers of this blog have probably surmised, I subscribe to a wide array of publications: newspapers, magazines, newsletters and the like, representing a pretty wide swath of political opinion/argumentation. Ever since Louis DeJoy was named Postmaster General, I have gotten regular “warnings” from a Democratic organization insisting that DeJoy is busily privatizing the Postal Service, and asserting that–among other nefarious things– he had interfered with delivery of election materials in order to help Trump. More recently, those emails have been asking me to sign petitions “demanding” that Biden instruct his postal board appointees to fire DeJoy.
Those emails did raise a question: What was the holdup? Why was this Trumper still there?
Then I came across this lengthy and apparently well-researched article from Time Magazine, titled “Louis DeJoy’s Surprising Second Act.” It included a fairly “deep dive” into several of those accusations.
DeJoy may be best known as the Trump-era GOP megadonor the left accused of meddling with mail-in voting to subvert the 2020 election. But by the time Schumer called him on that frigid winter night, DeJoy was on his way to convincing congressional Republicans—120 in the House and 29 in the Senate—to buy into a lengthy Democratic wish list of postal reforms. When President Joe Biden signed the landmark legislation into law two months later, it guaranteed a union-friendly version of six-day mail service and stabilized health coverage for the 650,000 USPS employees. “There’s no way we could have gotten [the] votes without Louis DeJoy,” says Jim Sauber, the chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers at the time. “That’s for sure.”…
But to the astonishment of many in Washington, the man Democrats once denounced as a threat to American democracy has become one of their most important allies in government. Defying the far right, he delivered more than 500 million COVID-19 test kits to Americans in the winter of 2022. Crossing conservatives last December, he agreed to transition the Postal Service’s entire fleet to electric vehicles by 2026. DeJoy’s capstone collaboration with Democrats was the Postal Service Reform Act, which is arguably the most bipartisan piece of major legislation in the Biden era, drawing 10 more GOP Senate votes than the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
According to the article, the postal unions and the Biden-appointed Democratic majority on the agency’s Board of Governors have bought into DeJoy’s plans, although members of Congress who don’t want to see rate increases continue to object.
DeJoy had been active in GOP politics for many years, and was certainly no “Never Trumper,” but he insists that Trump wasn’t involved in hiring him.
“I swear on my mother’s life, the President had nothing to do with it,” DeJoy says. “He didn’t know anything about it. I would never even think to tell him before I had a decision, because who knows what he could do with his tweets!”
The article is lengthy, and goes into detailed explanations of the various accusations about politically-motivated chicanery. You should read it yourself, and decide whether you find this far more nuanced reporting more convincing than the generalized accusations made in those periodic emails.
I am not posting this in an effort to convince readers one way or the other; my concerns are–once again–focused on the information environment we inhabit. I will readily admit that, given my own political orientation, I simply accepted the accuracy of the allegations contained in those emails. (In my own defense, until I came across the linked article, I hadn’t seen reason to doubt them.)
Any fair-minded observer of America’s current political scene will conclude that most misrepresentations come from the Right. There’s Fox “News,” the Big Lie, the various conspiracy theories, QAnon insanity, the all-out war on a “wokeness” its enemies can’t define...but those of us who are waging our own war against propaganda need to acknowledge that not everything that emerges from “our side” of the political spectrum is worthy of uncritical acceptance.
Until I have evidence that Time Magazine disseminates misinformation, I am inclined to trust its reporting, and revise my opinion of DeJoy. But the larger and far more troubling conclusion to be drawn from this clash of “alternative facts” is that it is increasingly difficult for Americans to know who and what to believe and who and what to discount.
Social cohesion requires trust. A fundamental problem of our times is that we don’t know who or what we can trust. No wonder conspiracy theories are so rampant.
27 thoughts on “Who To Believe?”
I also am rethinking DeJoy after reading his accomplishments. I also read many sources daily. I find we must.
I had wondered why Dejoy was still around. Thank you. I keep telling myself that while FOX etc is full of crap, the left tends to have its own propaganda problem as well. Truth is most often in the middle, usually “left” of center but middle.
It is important to emphasize that Biden has no power to fire DeJoy. The USPS is a public corporation that is run by a board of governors who serve 7 year term. It is the USPS Board of Governors that can hire and fire him.
I’m troubled by all these rate hikes that exceed inflation. There is an easy way to cut back on expenses that has necessitated these increases – in this day and age, there is simply no reason for 6 day deliver of the mail. They can easily cut back to 5 days, even 4 and save a small fortune.
DeJoy simply knows “which side his bread it buttered on”; “going along to get along” is keeping him in this powerful position; I see part of his assistance to passing Democratic bills is also maintaining his high income. FOLLOW THE MONEY! Juggling parties in hopes the MAGA White Nationalist party is back in the White House is a wise move on his part. His claim that the President had nothing to do with his appointment; but didn’t Trump appoint the USPS Board members who appointed him. Not unlike Mitch Daniels appointments to the Purdue University Board of Directors who appointed him president of the university. Not all Republicans are as stupid and offensive as the ones in the media daily; DeJoy knew Trump well enough not to give him any information about changes in the postal system to be used in Trump’s Tweets and could work against himself later.
“Social cohesion requires trust. A fundamental problem of our times is that we don’t know who or what we can trust. No wonder conspiracy theories are so rampant.”
Are my views another conspiracy theory? Time will tell; and our time is getting shorter. “Who to Believe?” We are now facing a truly major question of who to believe about how safe our banks are. The promises, possibilities, it could/might happen, maybe today…Trump’s indictment as he is seeking protests in our cities and on our streets while MTG and McCarthy are telling supporters not to protest for their own protection as authorities are preparing for protests. Yes, I watched CNN’s 4:00 a.m. Newsroom again this morning.
I appreciate this article, especially the last paragraph and the concluding sentence.
I am currently reading Tim Urban’s book “What’s Our Problem? : A Self-help Book for Societies”. It is an excellent read that thoroughly explores the issues raised in Sheila’s post today. The book is only available digitally or as an audio book. Here is the link:
Also be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page and go to the “Wait, But Why” homepage to read some of Urban’s other writings. If you appreciate Sheila’s blogs, I think you’ll find Urban’s observations very insightful.
Much of the false information I get comes in the form of e-mails asking for donations. A recent example is a fund drive to put the FOX News lies on billboards all over Palm Beach to get at Trump. As if Donald Trump would ever have to endure a billboard in that exclusive city. The request was very cleverly worded but made no sense in its goal. More nuanced reporting may not be all that accurate either.
The Washington Post has reported on the USPS changes and developments; reporter Jacob Bogage has written many articles on DeJoy and his tenure with the USPS. It has been his “beat.”
The USPS’s decision to buy more EVs is notable. I think it’s clear DeJoy and the governors succumbed to good sense in recognizing that EVs would be cheaper in the long run.
May I voice my distress at the ungrammatical title of this post? It should be “Whom to Believe.” Pardon my antediluvian, dare I say reactionary, response when I read it.
Very poignant opinion piece.
You have shown propaganda is not a one sided coin! No one affiliation corners the gullibility market.
The Leftists only have the WSWS magazine and maybe the Monthly Review sharing the truth about the class struggle. All else is capitalist propaganda. Even the politicians playing the role of Democratic Socialists are fake. How long have they been talking about Medicare for All?
Not one vote.
The media and our two political parties are puppets of the oligarchy – the few who rule our country.
Notice how they are always fighting over culture wars but not social or class wars?
Keep the 6 days of deliveries and the postal salaries. Quit letting tech kill jobs and stop making profits the goal.
Banks should be next…socialize the industries and set up central planning committees. Oh, and demilitaralize. 😉
Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear/read. The important thing is to always keep our minds open and remain skeptical, even if what we’re hearing or reading is from “our” guys. One reason I stopped watching MSNBC years ago. Btw, Steve, that “who” got to me too. 🤭
I have also wondered about his continued presence at the USPS, and received the emails about
firing him. Yes, this is up to the board, not Biden. I had read that he had eschewed the electric
vehicle option, at least at first, but I do not really know whether or not that is true.
Assuming that the Time article is accurate, I’m impressed with him and do not see the situation as
cynically as Todd. But, were all the stories about his having, let’s call it “retired” many fancy mail sorting
machines in order to slow down the mail, presumably aimed at the mail-in voting process, just more
When DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General he quickly made changes to the postal system that negatively affected those of us in rural areas. Mail that used to arrive anywhere within the U.S. 2-3 days after I sent it became a 7-10+ day trip.
A neighbor that lives 3/4 mile away sent his farm ground rent check to me and it arrived 11 days after it was postmarked. I used to make utility payments via the mail and made sure I allowed 5 days just in case something happened to cause a problem with the typical 2-3 day trip. I started receiving late fees because it was taking 10 days for my payments to arrive after I mailed them. The destinations for the payments were anywhere from 8 miles to 90 miles away in Indiana.
What caused the new delays? DeJoy shut down the smaller mail sorting facilities. Those were typically at the county seat post offices. Postal workers lost their jobs and the work was sent to a regional facility where mail is sorted by machines. Mail that used to pass between 1-2 post offices became a nightmare of being passed around between multiple offices – going from north Indiana down to Indy then down to south Indiana and back through those same locations to finally arrive at its destination in north Indiana.
I have no idea if this change helped reduce postal system expenses. Did DeJoy profit off of any of the changes? I don’t know that either. What I do know is that I can no longer trust the postal system to ensure that my mail arrives within a reasonable time frame. Perhaps those of you that live in larger cities have not experienced this problem.
Remember what Ronald Reagan said: “Trust, but verify.”
I have had two checks “lost in the mails” within the last two months and I recall that Biden had to beat on DeJoy to order EVs. DeJoy had told us he planned on buying gas vehicles. Yes, there is propaganda there for the reading these days, but there is also counter propaganda and counter-counter propaganda.
I am not so quick to forgive DeJoy for his civic sins (e.g., giving big bucks to a secessionist psychopath but caving to Democrats when the political tide changed), all of which suggests his allegiance is open to the higher and more successful bidder.
I would prefer a Democrat in that position, one with a proven track record in favor of small d democracy and neither a present nor past supporter of a Putin/Kim loving candidate who tried to overthrow our government and destroy our democracy.
I would prefer a Democrat
Mea culpa. Strike the last unpunctuated sentence (I would prefer a Democrat).
Seeking evidence, keeping an open mind, practicing critical thinking. These are the requirements for doing good science and for deciding what sources to trust. It’s no wonder that scammers of all stripes either pretend to be scientific or ask us to substitute faith for science or claim that there is no difference between science and faith.
There are some overall truths: “follow the money”, if a choice between Party and Country – Party usually wins…
He stays a scum bag until proven different.
Two trigger words for me on the many emails I get asking for support are “demand” and “outraged.” First, none of us is in a position to demand anything—thank god, since there could be nothing less democratic and more autocratic. Second, since 2015, I frequently have been outraged in response to various people and events, but my outrage is little different from the outrage on the right—it’s all bug-eyed ferocity that gets carried away with itself and is nonproductive. (Some may argue that it provides energy to drive social change, but it hasn’t seemed to so far, and thank god for that, because no one could be more outraged than the MAGA group.) Finally, I believe that many of these emails and petitions are actually little more than data collection for their creators to sell to advertisers or to use in fundraising. I disregard them. There are some organizations that I believe do good work and are worth supporting; there are many others that have jumped on the bandwagon and are simply milking “outrage” for all it’s worth (and I’d bet it’s worth plenty). The organizations that do good work typically aren’t as rhetorically inflammatory, and they include more detail and nuance in their missives. But the words “outrage” and “demand” are, in themselves, grounds for immediate deletion.
Thanks for bringing me up to date specifically on DeJoy.
DeJoy owns a trucking company,his focus is a long term contract with mail. if already has. agree with hos devel and he gets the contract, simple.
new breed logistics and major shareholder in XPO,$120 millions worth.
Hafta admit that I’m rather skeptical of him. Back in the days after he was installed there was some talk of his quite large investments in UPS and FEDEX, leading us to believe that screwing up the USPS and raising rates to be more in line with the commercial delivery services would increase their stock values, increasing DeJoy’s stock value, and so on. What’s happened to that?
What would a wealthy person want with a job like that?
I have read the Time report. One thing that makes me wonder about how well Time researched/ wrote this is the talk about DeJoy vowing to make the USPS fleet all-electric by 2026. It was just a year ago that he ordered 165,000 new vehicles of which only 10% were electric. The promise to go all electric happened only after massive pushback from many sources, including the WH. Why would Time present it as a decision DeJoy made?
Sheila – Thank you for the very thought provoking post.
I have to admit, when DeJoy came in to “fix” the post office, I imagined what a lifetime of “corporate fixers” has taught me. They get rid unions, cut wages, benefits, and service, and usually get bonuses for it, but I doubt that USPS pays bonuses to the bosses.
I had assumed he would follow Paul Ogden’s “cut services, cut costs” approach, or worse.
Also – before DeJoy – I once received a package with my name, city (Highland Park – there are mmany), the wrong state, and my phone number. The post office got it to me.
after DeJoy – my company sent me the contents of my former desk (I was switched to a new account during the pandemic) – I never received the pictures from my niece’s wedding that I had. Also, my mortgage company send some forms to sign. I never received them and it cost me thousands of dollars.
Still one difference I still have from the MAGA sorts (and other Republicans – W said he never made a mistake) – I admit that I may have been wrong and change my mind.
If DeJoy was instrumental in getting rid of that “kill the post office” health-care pre-funding requirement, that is a major good.
I still hold a grudge against DeJoy. He was actively working to destroy the USPS. He should be held responsible for destroying machines, lowering the working force, creating rules that slowed down the mail, etc, etc, etc.
He must go….go, go!
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