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Alex Jones may be America’s most successful conspiracy theorist. On his website, Infowars.com, and his daily radio program heard on more than 100 stations nationwide, Jones regularly promotes a variety of-beyond-the-fringe ideas: alleged government conspiracies in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; fluoride-in-the-water health scares; suspicions that the moon landings were faked; doubts about President Obama’s place of birth and birth certificate.
The ranting radio host and the leading Republican candidate shared a microphone, and some common ground, last week in what may have been a dubious first — the first time a leading presidential candidate has been interviewed by a media figure from the far extremes. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump assured Jones, after Jones assured Trump that most of his listeners supported his candidacy. “I will not let you down.”
“There’s an information-age tsunami out there that just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Steve Smith, a veteran newspaper editor who teaches journalism at the University of Idaho. “When you combine this digital tsunami with the loss of quality and quantity in American journalism [due to cutbacks and economic woes] over the years. . . journalists just don’t have the ability to keep up once a false narrative gains speed.”
The result is a kind of self-reinforcing information loop in which Trump introduces some inaccurate statement, is called on it by the news media, which is then denounced by Trump for its supposed bias against him.
“It’s really jarring because he’s defying the rules of evidence that we have come to expect of people in leadership,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of its Annenberg Public Policy Center. While not everything Trump says is true, Jamieson said Trump is “telling his supporters what they want to believe is true.”
The Internet has greatly facilitated the speed and reach of such misinformation, said Angie Drobnic Holan, Politifact’s editor. The Internet has also made it possible for people with like-minded, if bogus, ideas and theories to organize into communities and reach others, she said. “If you think the moon landing was fake, you can go on and find people just like you,” Holan said.
Social media has added another link to the misinformation chain, she noted. Erroneous information passed from peer to peer on Facebook or elsewhere often has an equal or even greater degree of credibility than a news report because people tend to trust those they know or are acquainted with compared with an anonymous media story, she said.
Trump’s misinformation may be “strategic,” said Jeffery Hemsley, an assistant professor in the school of information studies at Syracuse University. “Each candidate isn’t talking to the public as a whole — they are talking to their base and to those they might be able to persuade into voting for them,” he said. “So for many centrists and those on the left, Trump seems crazy. But for a segment of those on the right, Trump speaks to them. If Trump is using poor sources for his information, that isn’t really a problem for his audience. That is where they are getting their information, too.”
Hemsley, the co-author of “Going Viral,” about the rapid spread of information, said the days when the nation had “a somewhat unifying story” from newspapers and the leading TV news networks are gone. Nowadays, people tend to pick their own news, and like-minded social contacts, which tends to reinforce their beliefs rather than challenge them.
This makes it increasingly difficult to dislodge misinformation, he said. Good information can still drive out bad, but usually only when “the truth is sexier than the lie.”
“Facts may be undervalued or losing their value in today’s world,” said Robert Mason, a University of Washington professor who has researched the spread of false information. “If you say it loud enough or long enough, people will believe it. That’s okay in theory, but when people act on it, that’s a problem.”
originally posted by: MajorAce
I'm curious to find out if the Ron Paul people back Trump or not. Cause it seems Info wars was a mainstream outlet for RP news.