We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.
FROM THE LEFT
From “It Turns Out Hillary Clinton, Not Russian Bots, Lost the 2016 Election,” by Luke Savage in Jacobin at tinyurl.com/4rrtkjs6.
The context, from the author: A new study of Russia-based Twitter posts by New York University researchers buries the liberal canard that Russian bots played any significant role in swinging the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
The excerpt: If the Russian bots story gained momentum without having much of an empirical foundation, one reason is that it offered traumatized liberals a tidy and straightforward explanation for an outcome they had spent the preceding year believing was impossible. Sinister as the idea might be, a foreign campaign of digital sorcery was always going to be a neater culprit than the litany of institutional and political failures that actually enabled Donald Trump to become president. In a different kind of world, November 2016 might have inspired some actual introspection on the part of those implicated in said failures. Instead, it became an occasion for hyperbolic and often flimsy partisan narratives that rather conveniently avoided asking the necessary questions — and in turn let the triangulating ideology of Clintonite liberalism off the hook.
From “Why Ron DeSantis Won’t — or Shouldn’t — Run for President,” by David Corn in Mother Jones at tinyurl.com/bdzcfeey.
The context, from the author: Donald Trump would make it his mission to destroy the Florida governor.
The excerpt: Trump remains dangerous. To the nation, to the GOP, and to DeSantis and other potential Republican rivals. That is because, as Jan. 6 demonstrated, if Trump cannot be king, he will burn down the palace — with everyone in it, especially those who denied him the crown. No matter what the polls say now, DeSantis or any other GOP aspirant who enters the race against Trump will have a tough time. Hitting below the belt is what Trump does best. He is not bound by rules or decency.
From “The Conspiracies Powering the GOP-Controlled House,” by Kara Voght in Rolling Stone at tinyurl.com/3xput242.
The context, from the author: How Republicans have put disinformation and falsehoods at the center of their governing agenda.
The excerpt: The most noxious online conspiracies, the ones that a public official would once have been exiled for relaying and disseminating with any gravity, are now the focus of official congressional inquiries. The committee would also have full freedom to investigate any civil liberties-related issue and scrutinize how the federal government collected and used information about Americans, fueling right-wing paranoia about government overreach.
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the author: It is “science” — science used as a rhetorical tactic and ideological weapon — that is a blight on 21st-century American life.
The excerpt: This “faux science” is not dispassionate but fired by a great moral certainty. It is not open to counterarguments and different interpretations but insists on only one answer to complicated or ambiguous questions. It is not rigorously neutral but aims to achieve cherished political goals. The debate over gas stoves illustrates perfectly the faux scientific method. First, researchers conduct flawed studies reaching alarming conclusions. Second, the media generate headlines about the findings that don’t note the methodological inadequacies. Third, advocates agitate for changes to public policy based on what has magically become “the science.”
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The context, from the author: You can’t know it all — and you shouldn’t try.
The excerpt: There are certain things that are simply not worthy of national or international media attention. Even granting that some Americans benefit from knowing about nationalist uprisings in Europe, how many points the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose yesterday, or what foreign power invaded a neighboring country, I submit that nobody benefits from reading about a girl from New York being murdered by her fiancé or four Idaho college students being stabbed in their beds. Notice I provide no links for these stories, because you shouldn’t be reading them and neither should I. The barrage of national news coverage on such local issues is both pointless and deeply bad. The modern culture, filled with smartphones and endless media feeds to scroll, has conditioned us to consume media without asking why.
The context, from the author: Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a good start. He has told us that we are at war with a deadly regime, the woke regime. You cannot win a war unless you know you are in one. But at some point soon, he must go further.
The excerpt: To develop an anti-woke (pro-American) agenda, DeSantis must first help us understand the woke regime, the woke way of life. He must explain that this way of life cannot possibly coexist with the American way of life. The two regimes have utterly irreconcilable understandings of a just society. For the American regime, a just society is one in which free men and women pursue happiness according to their abilities and according to nature. Such a society is one where merit rules. For the woke regime, on the other hand, a just society is one where the regime imposes identity group quotas based on victimhood rankings. Such a regime makes war on merit. It’s one regime or the other.