“Disinformation laundering” got us here
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Last week’s failed pro-Trump insurrection at the Capitol is really a story about disinformation.
Online disinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories like QAnon are like “a giant lint ball,” said Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the nonpartisan Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., and author of “How to Lose the Information War.” They pick up everything in their path: baseless claims of voter fraud, 5G, Hunter Biden, anti-vaccination fiction. And last Wednesday that huge ball rolled straight from President Donald Trump’s rally to the Capitol.
“We can’t leave our congressional representatives out of this, either,” Jankowicz said. “They’ve kind of laundered these narratives in the halls of Congress, given them legitimacy, rather than debunking and disavowing them.”
Jankowicz says researchers have been sounding the alarm, but no one in charge took seriously the scale of disinformation out there and its potential for real-world consequences. So what now? Can we unring that bell? We’ll talk about it, and why Jankowicz says there’s reason to be optimistic.
Later in the show, we’ll hear from a nurse practitioner who just got the COVID-19 vaccine, a teacher of budding podcasters and a listener reflecting on just how much history he’s lived through.
When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, Brexit, the public domain and … Pokémon cards? Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.
Here’s everything we talked about today:
- Jankowicz’s latest for Foreign Affairs: “The Day the Internet Came for Them”
- And her last appearance on “Make Me Smart”
- “Disinformation’s big win” from Axios
- “One effect of the Instagrammed insurrection: FOMO” from “Marketplace Tech”
- “Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal Has Tested Positive for COVID” from The Cut
- “Republicans Weigh Trump Censure, Impeachment” from The Wall Street Journal
- “Fox News to Add Another Hour of Right-Wing Talk as Biden Takes Office” from The New York Times
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