This is the image filling the news I’m reading:
An unprecedentedly low turnout for the inauguration of the most hated President and a record breaking number of marches the day after opposing his administration. It’s glorious, spectacular, a wonderful screw you to the minority of Americans who put a narcissist, misogynist, corporate hack into power.
But a huge swath of America will never see this.
Or they will think it’s a lie. Or they won’t know what’s true so they won’t feel confident forming an opinion.
In this way, whole eras of history are obliterated, dictators consolidate power, wars are fought without public permission or knowledge and we lose the essential ability to make an informed decision about the politicians who govern us. It’s why Jefferson said that the entire point of the American experiment was to establish that, “man may be governed by reason and truth” and therefore one must “leave open to him all the avenues to truth.” It is why a strong, responsible, independent and free press is essential to any functioning democracy.
Donald Trump’s team is attacking our access to the truth by releasing a press secretary who lies about the attendance numbers at the inauguration, inflating them and accusing the media of distortion in the same breath.
We must pay attention to the very real threat this is.
The good news is that Trump can’t do this alone. He needs outlets who call themselves independent media to play along and report the disinformation. So far, websites like Breitbart and networks like RT (a Russian television station often beloved by the left in America) have been successfully doing that work for him. But there’s a new movement to starve this propaganda by attacking its ad dollars.
It’s a bit of whack-a-mole, to attack fake news and disinformation site by site, but it seems to be working.
Sleeping Giant has been covered in Slate, Salon, Fortune and more for a campaign to let advertisers know that when they buy internet ads across a large demographic, companies are putting some of those ads on Breitbart’s site. Because the algorithm that places the ads is obscure and poorly understood and because the reporting companies get often fails to specify all locations where the ads are placed, simply letting a public facing brand know they are supporting a far-right propaganda site associated with Trump is enough to have them pull their dollars.
It’s brilliant and working and can be expanded easily and anyone can take part.
First, follow these simple instructions from Sleeping Giant to help kick advertisers off of Breitbart fast. It basically involves visiting the site, seeing an ad and then tweeting the company involved.
Then take a look at this long and and highly controversial, but frankly, amazing guide for detecting fake and biased news and do your own research and tweeting. It often takes only a few tweets for a company to pull out, and you’ve struck a blow for truth in the process.
Keeping those responsible for undermining our access to truth on the defensive, is essential for the resistance. It’s what will help us begin the most important work of reaching a hand across this country, creating alliances with all Americans, even those who voted for Donald Trump, and emerging united against the things we all agree have no place in our politics: corruption, crime, violence, and lies, damned lies.