There are a great many articles all of a sudden decrying the political punditry and false news we now find on Facebook as if that is the reason Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college vote. While there is no doubt that Facebook made an executive decision to not block these kinds of fake news and wingnut sites, we cannot blame Facebook for the death of discourse and the culture of Ann Coulter that is so prevalent in America today.
The death of discourse has been happening for a long time. In fact it began way back in 1968 when William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal went on television during the 1968 Democratic National Convention to sling insults and barbs at each other from the left and the right. At least there was a semblance of discourse and discussion in these events.The difference is we now have whole television channels like Fox News, and radio stations hosting people like Rush Limbaugh and pundits like Ann Coulter who have made a career out of spreading false news. Just take a moment to visit Ann Coulter’s website and you’ll see what I mean. How did anyone with such extreme, unsubstantiated views become a regular “expert” on television news shows?
I knew Hillary Clinton had a problem during this election when I would make a post on Facebook and a load of comments would come in from the right, not only insulting me for what I said, but throwing out a whole bunch of nonsense about the Democratic Nominee. Nothing of any substance mind you, just conservative talking points that they had either heard or seen on conservative television or radio. These points never addressed my original point merely spewing venom like Ann Coulter is so quick to do. You couldn’t have any kind of sane dialog about any issue. Merely, you’d be met with a wall of inane, empty insults that could leave you breathless and hopeless. There could be a whole comment chain of 35-40 comments with not a single substantiated comment.The vehemence under whih these statements would be made have to have been developed over a long period of time. These were not from 5 second blips or feeds from Facebook, rather from a culture of misinformation festering in the background for 8 years during the Obama Presidency.
These “factoids” were not all coming from Facebook. People were quoting things they’d heard on television or on the radio. When you are hearing from Ann Coulter that,”Without fat girls there wouldn’t be any protest.” In response the hundreds of protests nationwide in opposition to Trump’s election. How can anyone take anything she says seriously?
If we truly want to see democracy in America, we need to be able to have civil conversations based on facts not insults, degradation and foolish sound bites, something Ann Coulter and her friends have a lot experience at.