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Culture war games: still crying wolf

News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters
By Thomas E. Patterson

Watchdog reporting can build confidence in the press, but when journalists condemn most everything they see, they set themselves up to be as credible as the boy who repeatedly cried “wolf.” In the closing days of the 2016 campaign, the nation’s editorial rooms rang the alarm bell, warning voters not to make the choice that many of them seemed ready to make. It went for naught. The watchdog had lost its bite, as well as the respect of the public it claims to serve. In a Pew Research Center survey taken shortly after the November 2016 balloting, only one in five respondents gave the press a grade of “B” or higher for its performance. Four of five graded its performance as a “C” or lower, with half of them giving it an “F.”

Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there
By Thomas Frank

How did the journalists’ crusade fail? The fourth estate came together in an unprecedented professional consensus. They chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them. They transformed opinion writing into a vehicle for high moral boasting. What could possibly have gone wrong with such an approach?

Put this question in slightly more general terms and you are confronting the single great mystery of 2016. The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting
By Matt Taibbi

The only time politicians like the media is when we’re helping them get elected or push through certain policies, like for instance helping spread dubious stories about Iraq’s WMD capability. Otherwise, they despise us. So news outlets that get into bed with politicians are usually making a devil’s bargain they don’t fully understand.

They may think they’re being patriotic (as many did during the Iraq/WMD episode), but in the end what will happen is that they will adopt the point of view of their political sponsors. They will soon enough denounce other reporters and begin to see themselves as part of the power structure, as opposed to a check on it.

This is the ultimate in stupidity and self-annihilating behavior. The power of the press comes from its independence from politicians. Jump into bed with them and you not only won’t ever be able to get out, but you’ll win nothing but a loss of real influence and the undying loathing of audiences.

they’re going to keep losing
By Fredrik deBoer

… if people didn’t listen to your reporting about Trump, if you couldn’t motivate voters to change despite his mountains of disqualifying baggage, it’s because no one likes you. (Take it from somebody nobody likes.) And until you change your culture from the insular, self-aggrandizing book club that treats looking at other parts of the country as an anthropology exercise, all of the scandals and investigative reporting and damning policy analysis will mean nothing because nobody will be listening to you. I’ve been trying to tell you guys this stuff for years, not out of personal enmity but out of my honest observation about the deepening inability of your message to speak to anyone but yourselves. If you respond to critiques of your insularity and addiction to jokey dismissal of criticism with more insularity and jokey dismissal then you don’t deserve to impact a presidential election or anything else.

You Are Still Crying Wolf
By Scott Alexander

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid
By Glenn Greenwald

The level of group-think, fear-mongering, coercive peer-pressure, and über-nationalism has not been seen since the halcyon days of 2002 and 2003. Indeed, the very same people who back then smeared anyone questioning official claims as Saddam sympathizers or stooges and left-wing un-American loons are back for their sequel, accusing anyone who expresses any skepticism toward claims about Russia of being Putin sympathizers and Kremlin operatives and stooges.

But it’s all severely exacerbated by social media in ways that we don’t yet fully understand. A large percentage of journalists sit on Twitter all day. It’s their primary window into the world. Because of how intense and raw the emotions still are from Trump’s defeat of Clinton, the social media benefits from tweeting and publishing unhinged claims about Trump and Putin are immense and immediate: thousands upon thousands of re-tweets, a rapidly building follower count, and huge amounts of traffic.

Indeed, the more unhinged it is, the greater the benefits are (see some of the most extreme examples here). That’s how otherwise rational people keep getting tricked into posting and re-tweeting and sharing extremely dubious stories that turn out to be false.

How fake news sites frequently trick big-time journalists
By Jack Murtha

The premise of each story usually revolves around a hot-button issue. “When it comes to the fake stuff, you really want it to be red meat,” says the founder of National Report and other fake news outlets, who goes by the pseudonym Allen Montgomery. “It doesn’t have to be offensive. It doesn’t have to be outrageous. It doesn’t have to be anything other than just giving them what they already wanted to hear.”

All told, these are smart shops. They play on journalists’ inherent quirks and flaws. The institutional forces that, in some newsrooms, prevent thoughtful reporting—or dispense with original reporting altogether—don’t excuse duped journalists. But when writers have more time to report and less pressure to produce a viral hit, they’re more likely to overcome their initial gullibility.

A Clinton Fan Manufactured Fake News That MSNBC Personalities Spread to Discredit WikiLeaks Docs
By Glenn Greenwald

In his Daily Beast article, published on November 21, Chacon describes how he manufactured the forged Goldman Sachs speech transcript. He says he did it prior to learning that the WikiLeaks releases of Podesta emails contained actual Clinton speech excerpts to Wall Street banks. But once he realized WikiLeaks had published actual Clinton transcripts, Chacon began trying to lure people he disliked — Clinton critics — into believing that his forged speeches were real, so that he could prove they were gullible and dumb.

Sadly for Chacon, however, the people who ended up getting fooled by his Fake News items were the nation’s most prominent Clinton supporters, including supposed experts and journalists from MSNBC who used his obvious fakes to try to convince the world that the WikiLeaks archive had been compromised and thus should be ignored. That it was pro-Clinton journalists who spread his Fake News as real now horrifies even Chacon …

WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived
By Glenn Greenwald

… while it’s true that all media outlets make mistakes, and that even the most careful journalism sometimes errs, those facts do not remotely mitigate the Post’s behavior here. In these cases, they did not make good faith mistakes after engaging in careful journalism. With both stories, they were reckless (at best) from the start, and the glaring deficiencies in the reporting were immediately self-evident (which is why both stories were widely attacked upon publication).

As this excellent timeline by Kalev Leetaru documents, the Post did not even bother to contact the utility companies in question — the most elementary step of journalistic responsibility — until after the story was published. Intelligence officials insisting on anonymity — so as to ensure no accountability — whispered to them that this happened, and despite how significant the consequences would be, they rushed to print it with no verification at all. This is not a case of good journalism producing inaccurate reporting; it is the case of a media outlet publishing a story that it knew would produce massive benefits and consequences without the slightest due diligence or care.

How BuzzFeed crossed the line in publishing salacious ‘dossier’ on Trump
By Margaret Sullivan

I don’t fault BuzzFeed for lack of skepticism here. Smith was clear with readers that the information he was publishing couldn’t be verified and, indeed, there was no reason to believe that much of it was true. What I fault him for was plunging down a slippery ethical slope from which there is no return.

In an era when trust in the media is already in the gutter, this does absolutely nothing to help. But even that isn’t the core point, which is far simpler:

It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo. And none of the circumstances surrounding this episode — not CNN’s story, not Trump’s dubious history with Russia, not the fact that the intelligence community made a report on it — should change that ethical rule.

The Necessity Of Credibility
By Nathan J. Robinson

Credibility is extremely difficult to achieve, and extremely easy to destroy. At the moment, the press doesn’t have it. They need to acknowledge that they don’t have it. They need to figure out why they don’t have it. And then they need to begin the long, agonizing, humbling process of trying to get it. The only way to counter fake news is with real news. Not fake real news, or news that merely looks like news but is actually opinion or allegation. Actual real news. Substantive and serious reporting. A commitment to avoiding innuendo and anonymous sources. Transparency and a willingness to atone for mistakes.

The Triumph of Falsehood
By Steve Chapman

Conventional politicians shade and embellish the truth, but within established bounds. They have enough respect for voters to ration their deceptions.

What made Trump different was his conviction that most people are happy to be fed nonsense as long as it is palatable. He lied without reservation or limit, about topics big and small, and he got away with it. Among his followers, some believed he was telling the truth and some didn’t care.

“Fake news” sources exploit the same cynical strategy, confident that many readers will seek out anything that confirms their prejudices and reject anything that doesn’t. The news media have discovered that while there is a demand for accurate information, there is also a market, possibly bigger, for malignant myths. No lie is too big or absurd to find a gullible audience.

The saga of ‘Pizzagate’: The fake story that shows how conspiracy theories spread
By Mike Wendling

“Moral panics are not something new and you’re just experiencing a new cycle of it […] You guys have a bunch of creepy pictures and you’re finding symbols and other circumstantial bunk… You guys have absolutely nothing and it’s a little embarrassing that you guys are on a rabid witch hunt based on this evidence.

“Are you guys even aware of how stupid all of this is.”

‘Pizzagate’ Recalls the Debunked Child Sex Rings of the ’80s and ’90s
By Cathy Young

The child sex abuse panic of the 1980s is also a reminder that paranoia about pedophiles is hardly the sole province of right-wing nuts. While some of the fears about devil worship were driven by religious fundamentalism, feminists who saw hidden child rape as an intrinsic part of patriarchal violence played a major role in ritual abuse scare. (They were even more involved in the closely related bogus moral panic about recovered memories of incest, also treated with excessive credulity by the mainstream media until the early 1990s.) Indeed, MacFarlane, one of principal malfeasants in the McMartin fiasco, had started out as a feminist activist before turning child abuse crusader.

‘We can’t let the bullies win’: Elizabeth Loftus awarded 2016 John Maddox Prize
By Ian Sample

In the 1990s, thousands of repressed memory cases came to light, with affected patients taking legal action against family members, former neighbours, doctors, dentists and teachers. The accusations tore many families apart. As an expert witness in such cases, Loftus came under sustained attack from therapists and patients who were convinced the new-found memories were accurate. The abuse marked a distinct shift away from the good-natured debates she was used to having in academic journals.

“That’s when the fighting got really dirty,” Loftus told the Guardian. “Whenever you work in an area that challenges people’s wrongheaded, cherished beliefs, it can be difficult. But sometimes it can also be a matter of life and death.”

The Second Coming
By Christos Tsiolkas

Many of the activists I admire most would also argue with me that politics is not possible without anger. I think that’s true, but I have also grown to distrust rage no matter how passionately or sincerely held. If climate change matters, if a more compassionate and just treatment of asylum seekers matters, if economic justice matters, and if human liberty and freedom of expression matter, and I sincerely believe all of them do matter, we have to find other ways of communicating our convictions. In our parliament, at our work, online and in print, with our friends and with our families. Outside our bubbles. Of course, we can’t be silent and we mustn’t shut up, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult that might be at times, but this rage and this pornography of wrath, it is proving dangerous.

Liberalism is suffering but democracy is doing just fine
By Kenan Malik

Populists pose, too, as champions of liberties and freedoms. Wilders was found guilty of “inciting discrimination” by asking a crowd of supporters whether they want “more or fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands. Rather than challenge his bigotry politically, liberals are content to damn it legally, allowing Wilders to promote himself as a martyr for free speech, despite his deeply illiberal views, including the demand that the Qur’an be banned.Figures such as Le Pen and Wilders have marched on to the terrain, and speak to the constituencies, that the left has abandoned. The failure of the left to defend popular sovereignty has enabled the far-right to frame such sovereignty not in terms of the politics of solidarity, but in the language of nationalism and bigotry.

who is appropriating what?
By Kenan Malik

… once it becomes a matter of political principle that cultures should not be swamped by outsiders, then it is difficult to know how one could possibly resist anti-immigration arguments.

We can see the problem in Lionel Shriver own work. In a review of novels on immigration, Shriver makes the interesting and valid point that most novels about migration are from the viewpoint of immigrants, rarely from that of the ‘host communities’. She goes on, however, to talk of immigration seemingly as a form of inappropriate cultural invasion. ‘Illegal immigration’, she claims, ‘occasions the sensation of a householder when total strangers burst through his front door without knocking and take up indefinite residence in the guest room’. Mass immigration, she insists ‘duplicate[s] the experience of military occupation – your nation is no longer your home’. Westerners, she argues, are ‘being made to feel a foreigner in one’s own country’, and reveal ‘understandably primal reactions to the compromise of one’s home’. For Shriver then, it seems that certain cultures, certain ideas of ‘home’ – but only certain ones – must be protected against ‘invasion’ and change.

This might suggest that Abdel-Magied is right in her critique of Shriver. In fact what it reveals is that Shriver’s argument about immigration to the West is not that different from that of Abdel-Magied about Western cultural imperialism. That makes the critique of cultural appropriation and cultural ownership not less valid but, ironically, more urgent.

If liberals want to stop losing, they must change
By Nick Cohen

You can only argue against committed supporters of Trump. If they believe all Mexicans are rapists and Muslims terrorists, you cannot compromise without betraying your principles. Fair enough. But before you become self-righteous you must accept that the dominant faction on the western left uses language just as suggestive of collective punishment when they talk about their own white working class. Imagine how it must feel for a worker in Bruce Springsteen’s Youngstown to hear college-educated liberals condemn “white privilege” when he has a shit job and a miserable life. Or Google the number of times “straight white males” are denounced by public-school educated women in the liberal media and think how that sounds to an ex-miner coughing his guts up in a Yorkshire council flat.

The End of Identity Liberalism
By Mark Lilla

The media’s newfound, almost anthropological, interest in the angry white male reveals as much about the state of our liberalism as it does about this much maligned, and previously ignored, figure. A convenient liberal interpretation of the recent presidential election would have it that Mr. Trump won in large part because he managed to transform economic disadvantage into racial rage — the “whitelash” thesis. This is convenient because it sanctions a conviction of moral superiority and allows liberals to ignore what those voters said were their overriding concerns. It also encourages the fantasy that the Republican right is doomed to demographic extinction in the long run — which means liberals have only to wait for the country to fall into their laps. The surprisingly high percentage of the Latino vote that went to Mr. Trump should remind us that the longer ethnic groups are here in this country, the more politically diverse they become.

Stereotypes Are Poisoning American Politics
By William R. Easterly

In the U.S., we “coastal elites” are likely to condemn stereotypes when they involve immigrants, nonwhites, or religious minorities. But we’re more accepting of stereotypes that portray Southern, Midwestern, uneducated, working class whites as stupid, racist, and homophobic. (You wonder why so many rejected our advice on how to vote?) On the other hand, if you’re thinking, “Speak for yourself” — you’re right! “Coastal elite” is another stereotype. We don’t all disdain Appalachia or flyover America.

The crucial point is that all these stereotypes purport to be findings. In fact, they’re the opposite: a refusal to see vast individual variation within groups.

The dead end of “culturally appropriate” art
By Nick Cohen

The great failing of identity politics and arguments against cultural appropriation is they assume identities and cultures are islands with warships patrolling their coasts. Cultures mix. None exists that is not a hybrid except possibly in the Amazon rainforest. Not everyone in an ethnicity shares the same identity, and it is a rank prejudice to treat them as if they do. Freedom of the individual is the freedom not to have your autonomy denied by collectives who claim to speak on your behalf. In other words, there is no legitimate cultural authority to stamp a writer’s passport.

The logical conclusion of cultural appropriation is solipsism. For why stop at saying a person of one culture cannot appropriate the experience of another? By what right can I write about you, or you me? If no one can imagine or inquire about life in another culture, how can they do so about the life of another person? The self will then be the only subject. Solipsism may power the social justice warriors, who weep about how grievously their feelings have been offended. But it is unlikely to produce fiction even they will want to read.

Will the Left Survive the Millennials?
By Lionel Shriver

Ms. Abdel-Magied got the question right: How is this happening? How did the left in the West come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism I grew up with? Liberals have ominously relabeled themselves “progressives,” forsaking a noun that had its roots in “liber,” meaning free. To progress is merely to go forward, and you can go forward into a pit.

Protecting freedom of speech involves protecting the voices of people with whom you may violently disagree. In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street. I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today.

The Right Has Its Own Version of Political Correctness. It’s Just as Stifling.
By Alex Nowrasteh

The patriotically correct rightly ridicule PC “safe spaces” but promptly retreat to Breitbart or talk radio, where they can have mutually reinforcing homogeneous temper tantrums while complaining about the lack of intellectual diversity on the left. There is no such thing as too much national security, but it’s liberals who want to coddle Americans with a “nanny state.” Those who disagree with the patriotically correct are animated by anti-Americanism, are post-American, or deserve any other of a long list of clunky and vague labels that signal virtue to other members of the patriotic in-group.

The right shuts down free speech, too
By Catherine Rampell

When I speak to conservative groups that claim a commitment to free speech, they often seem genuinely surprised by data showing that campus illiberalism is not exclusively espoused by liberals.

They’re apparently unaware that conservative students are also requesting “trigger warnings” (typically about nudity, sex and gay themes), according to a faculty survey released by the National Coalition Against Censorship. They also don’t seem to know that Republican undergrads are about as likely as their Democratic classmates to say that colleges should be able to restrict campus speech that expresses “political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups,” according to a Knight Foundation survey.

Beyond campus, Republicans more broadly are almost twice as likely as Democrats to support book bans.

Books are dangerous
By Frank Furedi

Novels were the focus of a moral panic in 18th century England, criticised for triggering both individual and collective forms of trauma and mental dysfunction. In the late 18th century the terms ‘reading epidemic’ and ‘reading mania’ served to both describe and condemn the spread of a perilous culture of unrestrained reading.

Today, it is not puritanical religious moralists but undergraduate students who demand that Ovid’s poem should come with a trigger warning. For the first time in their career, my academic colleagues report that some of their students are asking for the right to opt out of reading texts that they find personally offensive or traumatising. This self-diagnosis of vulnerability is unlike the traditional call for a moral quarantine from above. Once upon a time, paternalistic censors infantilised the reading public by insisting that reading literature constitutes a serious risk to its health. Now young readers infantilise themselves by insisting that they and their peers should be shielded from the harm caused by distressing texts.

Outrage Over Children’s Book Parody Will Simply Feed Culture War Further
By Scott Shackford

Cultural outrage often encourages defensiveness, not analysis. Certainly the way Jensen has decided to describe American culture is absolutely not for the purposes of creating discussion or debate. The ultimate irony here is that she is helping create the audience for a type of work that she loathes. And ultimately she’s likely to see more of it from people who are doing it just to spite her and people like her.

A Defence of Lionel Shriver: Identity Politicians Would Kill Literature if They Could
By Timothy Cootes

Keep this in mind when you hear someone inquire: What, then, is permissible for fiction writers to write about? The answer should come in the form of a rebuke. What a contemptible question! It is a question asked by the censor, the theocrat and the bore, and we must cultivate our annoyance with all of them.

In Praise of Ignorance
By Simon Cullen

This is a situation we all find ourselves in: we sincerely hold strong moral beliefs on topics about which we are almost completely ignorant. Knowledge about difficult empirical questions has become so utterly irrelevant to whether we feel entitled to our opinions, often we do not even notice our own dramatic ignorance. In lieu of the facts we have not bothered to learn, we go to dazzling lengths to justify our opinions with ideology. When I told my interlocutor about the incarceration statistics mentioned above, her reaction was to question the veracity of the Department of Justice statistics. When I told her that multiple data sources present the same picture, she explained that reality is socially constructed.

Liberals and conservatives have one thing in common: Zero interest in opposing views
By Jeremy Frimer, Linda Skitka, and Matt Motyl

Dick Cheney, back when he was vice president, insisted all the TVs in his hotel suite be tuned to Fox News before he arrived.

It’s not just conservative politicians who like to stay ideologically insulated, though. So do campus liberals. Consider what happened two years ago at Rutgers University when Condoleezza Rice was invited to be commencement speaker. The faculty senate objected and students protested vehemently enough that the former secretary of State backed out.

In the wake of the 2016 election, there’s been a lot of talk about how Americans are stuck in partisan bubbles, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Anecdotes like the ones above remind us that bubbles don’t happen accidentally or passively. Instead, many politically minded people are in a state of motivated ignorance: They neither know — nor want to know — what the opposition has to say.

Stop Calling People “Low Information Voters”
By Claire Lehmann

This is one reason why charges of wholesale ignorance are so obtuse. “High information” people ignore evidence if it conflicts with their preferred narrative all the time. And while it may be naïve for voters to believe the promises of Trump and the Brexit campaigners — it has also been profoundly naïve for the cosmopolitan classes to believe that years of forced internationalism and forced political correctness were never going to end with a large scale backlash.

The Dangers of Disruption
By Francis Fukuyama

How far will this trend toward illiberal democracy go? Are we headed for a period like that of the early 20th century, in which global politics sank into conflict over closed and aggressive nationalism? The outcome will depend on several critical factors, particularly the way global elites respond to the backlash they have engendered. In America and Europe, elites made huge policy blunders in recent years that hurt ordinary people more than themselves. Deregulation of financial markets laid the groundwork for the subprime crisis in the United States, while a badly designed euro contributed to the debt crisis in Greece, and the Schengen system of open borders made it difficult to control the flood of refugees in Europe. Elites must acknowledge their roles in creating these situations.

Revitalizing Liberalism In The Age Of Brexit And Trump
By Will Wilkinson

A liberal social order requires a favorable intellectual and moral climate—a supporting cultural infrastructure. But liberal norms and institutions are under constant corrosive pressure from natural, deep-seated illiberal tendencies that we’ve only recently managed to suppress and/or harness at all. These latent atavistic instincts cannot be effectively neutralized in general or in advance because they constantly find expression in novel, unpredictably powerful guises as our culture, economy, and technology evolves. If we fail to constantly refurbish the case for and commitment to liberalism, reinforcing it against the specific damage of the age, our institutions will drift toward generalized opportunistic corruption and declining popular legitimacy. Our culture will drift toward defensive avidity and mutual distrust. Our politics will drift toward primal zero-sum tribal conflict. All of which creates a fat political opening for would-be despots and ends-justifies-the-means zealots. Fascism and communism arose in liberal Europe because the liberal elites got complacent, nobody fixed the pipes, and then awful people with awful ideas rose to power promising to fix damage—and then caused massively more damage.

Obama’s Weak Defense of His Record on Drone Killings
By Conor Friedersdorf

One campaign, Operation Haymaker, took place in northeastern Afghanistan. “Between January 2012 and February 2013,” The Intercept reported, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.” That’s one campaign of many in just one country where drone killings happen.

Thanks to Obama’s actions, Donald Trump will be inaugurated into an office that presumes the authority to secretly order the extrajudicial killings of American citizens. Was the particular way that Obama targeted Anwar al-Awlaki worth that price?

Trump will also be inaugurated into an office that construes its mandate to kill with drones broadly, encompassing strikes in countries with which America is not at war and targeting groups and individuals that had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001, attacks. In effect, Obama has construed the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force so broadly that it’s now hard to discern any meaningful limit.

If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama
By James Risen

When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, press freedom groups had high expectations for the former constitutional law professor, particularly after the press had suffered through eight years of bitter confrontation with the Bush administration. But today, many of those same groups say Mr. Obama’s record of going after both journalists and their sources has set a dangerous precedent that Mr. Trump can easily exploit. “Obama has laid all the groundwork Trump needs for an unprecedented crackdown on the press,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The Real Story About Fake News Is Partisanship
By Amanda Taub

Politicians “have an incentive to attack, to go after their opponents, to reveal to their own side that they are good members of the tribe, that they are saying all the right things,” Mr. Iyengar said. “This is an incentive for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to behave in a hyperpartisan manner in order to excite their base.”

That feeds partisan bias among the public by reinforcing the idea that the opposition is made up of bad or dangerous people, which then creates more demand for political extremism.

The result is an environment in which compromise and collaboration with the opposing party are seen as signs of weakness, and of being a bad member of the tribe.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Mr. Iyengar said. “All of this is going to make policy-making and fact-finding more problematic.”

Interview: Nick Cohen
by Alastair Benn and Margot Speed

Nick: … you do get the feeling at the moment that liberal principles, Enlightenment principles, are under threat. People want freedom of speech for their own side but not for anyone else. People are happy to attack the illiberalism of the other side, but not of their own. Conservatives can’t see the connection between being very tough on the threats that radical Islam poses, but then not for the same reasons to attack what is likely to come out of Trump’s America. Equally, people on the Left will go on and on about tackling racism and sexism on the Right while not tackling sexism and racism within their own ranks. Or they see people who raise issues such as those as illegitimate, and as never doing it for an honourable reason, but always talking in bad faith.

The Value of Fighting Attacks on Free Speech Early and Often
By Conor Friedersdorf

Those who point to evidence of war crimes are often accused of hating the troops; those who raise concerns about the difficulty of firing abusive or incompetent educators are accused of being anti-teacher; anti-rape activists are invariably told that not all men are sexual predators, as if it is obvious that they believe otherwise; reformers calling attention to unjust police killings are cast as waging “war on cops;” but in every case, as in the matter of threats to campus speech, one needn’t hold any whole class in contempt to see preventable injustices or worrisome trends, or to conclude that clearer thinking or better policy would be useful. Wrongheaded behavior exists in every population, even the ones we like and root for.

Globe editorial: In praise of, dare we say it, the media
By Globe Editorial

There are people in both the Trump camp and the anti-Trump camp who no longer believe in “facts.” There is only power and spin. Some mean that as a statement of despair, and we can empathize. Some mean it as a credo of smiling, opportunistic cynicism.

If facts don’t exist, the world is in a hell of a pickle. So let’s celebrate that, across Canada and around the world, there are buildings filled with people who stake their living – and even their lives; 74 journalists were killed in 2016, according to Reporters Without Borders – on the counterproposition. Without a set of norms and principles that are defended vigilantly and in a non-partisan way, societies can fall apart. Liberal democracy depends on a healthy free press closely watching our increasingly large and complex governments. The media, digging up what politicians, CEOs and bureaucrats would rather you not know, or saying things that those in power would prefer were not said, are an indispensable mechanism for ensuring an informed public.

And the public knows it. The media, new and old, big and small, traditional and non-traditional, have been doing this work in a hard space, economically speaking. The funny thing is, though, that in some ways it has been getting a little less hard, lately. The rise of Donald Trump’s alternative-reality show prompted tens of thousands of people, in December alone, to buy subscriptions to The New York Times, the Washington Post and other American subscription-based media that have been doing a balanced job of reporting on the state of American life and politics. It will be a sweet irony if a man and a movement that see the free press as an enemy turn out to be its saviour.

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