One of the more frightening aspects of our information-saturated culture is the incredibly effective use of propaganda. Today's example concerns itself with "The big lie", which is the conspiracy theory that Trump won the last presidential election.
For those of you living in a cave: Former President Donald Trump has spent months spreading lies about the 2020 election, which he himself is now calling "The Big Lie" as he continues to claim that a massive conspiracy robbed him of a second term."
So, The Big Lie is that idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that therefore Biden is an illegitimate president (BTW: Note the trend here: Trump also claimed that Obama was an illegitimate president using the racist "Birther" conspiracy theory. Kind of an interesting trend.)
In conservative media, this claim has been reiterated so many times that, as of Jan 2022, only 21% of Republican voters say Joe Biden's victory was legitimate, and the vast majority agree with Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen.
What's fascinating about this story is mostly the raw power of propaganda to convince a large group of people that something is true when it's not. It's terrifying that, not only is something that's a lie so widely accepted, but the certainty of the people who believe it is equally impressive. To move about the world loudly proclaiming one owns "the truth" and that the rest of us are "sheeple", blindly consuming whatever our "lamestream media" is serving up: that's a bold move.
There's a vicious irony in there. I saw a scary chart earlier this year, produced by Vox, that listed "News sources trusted by at least 40% of democrats", and then "News sources trusted by at least 40% of republicans". On the democrat side was "CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, NY Times, BBC, MSNBC, Wash. Post, NPR, and Time".
On the republican side was a single entry "Fox News".
One media source.
For half of America.
Below is a reference that may have been the source for that slide.
What's so odd (and troubling) about that is that it's so much more effective a platform to produce propaganda when you have such a concentrated information source. It's just way harder to coordinate a lie across a dozen media outlets than it is within a single media outlet.
But that's a story for another day.
Let's look at each of these in a bit of detail.
I wonder if the following story will make it into the conservative media: Pro-Trump OAN network admits there was no widespread fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election after extensively pushing the claim.
From the article:
OAN was part of the propaganda machine, and they were subsequently sued, for defamation, for telling lies about the 2020 election, and they lost. The people who sued OAN helped administer the 2020 election in Georgia.
If there had been election fraud, it would have been completely insane for those folks to sue OAN, because said fraud would likely have come out during discovery for the case and they could have gone to jail.
Also worth noting: defamation is both (a) difficult to prove and (b) expensive to prove, and so nobody is going to attempt to litigate a defamation case unless is pretty much a sure thing (or, like Peter Thiel, they have millions of dollars to employ for "revenge litigation").
Also being ignored by conservative media is the record of court cases filed on behalf of Trump following the election:
Go ahead, read the "Legal analysis and reactions" section of that wikipedia article. It's worth the time.
What's important here is that, if there was indeed election fraud, a lawsuit is the proper remedy. Many of those judges deciding whether to allow a lawsuit to proceed were appointed by Trump himself. The problem is a profound lack of evidence.
Let's face it: if there was evidence of fraud, a judge could be disbarred for not moving forward with a case. My guess is many of the Trump-appointed judges were practically begging for someone to bring enough evidence forward to move forward with a trial.
But nobody could.
And it's still going on (and still nobody can).
And not only that: several people have been sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems. Now, if there was voting fraud, and Dominion was culpable (and there was fraud), do you really think Dominion would bring these suits to trial? No fucking way. They'd do anything they could to *avoid* discovery. So the fact that Dominion is proceeding with these cases is telling.
The third, very troubling part of this whole story, is that specific efforts to analyze election results in states like Wisconsin, Arizona, and Michigan turned up no evidence of fraud, even when they were being conducted by conservative organizations   .
All of this is incredibly troubling if we cycle back to the beginning: "only 21% of Republican voters say Joe Biden's victory was legitimate, and the vast majority agree with Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen".
That, my friends, is the power of propaganda. It also shows "confirmation bias" (people seek out information that confirms what they believe and avoid information that conflicts with what they believe).
It also shows the power of information bubbles, which, for the 2020 election fraud stories, the conservative media is doing a breathtakingly stellar job of keeping this entire corpus of information from being served to their viewers/readers.
Knowing all of that, it's worth making a list of all the things you need to believe in order to believe "The Big Lie":
Any yet in spite of all that .. a veritable mountain of information .. the majority of republicans believe the big lie.
That my friends, is the awesome power of propaganda.