That means more than 80 percent of Republicans are so delusional that they should not be trusted with the levers of power again. Democrats and the mainstream media (here I include Facebook and Twitter) need to take note of the dire threat this poses to our democracy and denounce these conspiracy mongers daily and vigorously. They are a danger to the republic that must, at a minimum, be neutralized. This is now a war and risks not remaining merely a cold one.
Deplatforming purveyors of misinformation and disinformation, like the former president/current troll’s ban from Twitter and Facebook, is not enough. They can still voice their lies and perpetrate their evil on Fox, Newsmax, OANN and right-wing social media platforms, secure in the knowledge that lies and fake news go viral much more easily and quickly than real news.
The weapons available to stymie these miserable mavens of malice are few and not very effective.
Some folks advocate reviving the Fairness Doctrine, a 1949 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy that required broadcasters to present opposing views when covering issues. When the FCC repealed the doctrine in 1987, it opened the door to outfits like Fox News to prosper by selling fake news and outright lies. The problem with resuscitating the Fairness Doctrine is that every news item about vaccine safety, for example, would require allowing an anti-vaxxer on air to present the opposing view. That’s no solution.
Others, including unlikely allies like the Biden administration and some congressional Republicans, want to see Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act repealed. Section 230 allows social media platforms to be considered, unlike publishers, mere information conduits not liable for the content they broadcast. The goal of such repeal legislation would be to render companies subject to libel lawsuits for spreading fake news that harms an individual or organization. However, when push comes to shove, I suspect that Republicans in thrall to Trump and his bodyguard of lies would vote against repeal in order to protect their fake news allies.
Probably the best antidote to the madness that has devoured the Republican Party would be education. Unfortunately, that may also have limited effect. Teaching children civics, history, and how to differentiate fact from fiction is a half-measure because it will have little impact now. The challenge is reaching their parents who follow Donald Trump, “Q” and all the other malevolent disseminators of conspiracy theories down the rabbit hole.
June 4, 2021