The phrase “post-truth” seems to have rather entered the lexicon of news-speak lately. Let’s have a look at what the usual suspects are saying about the “post-truth” “phenomenon”.
Late in 2016 I was listening to a BBC TV News (World Service) program where a presenter (Allan Little) was doing one of those end of year reflections on what is going on in the world. He was bemoaning the victories of Brexit in the UK and Trump in the US, and trying to draw parallels between the two, and trying to figure out what on earth could have led to this twin disaster. He didn’t call it a twin disaster of course in so many words but his doom-laden tone of voice spoke a thousand words.
The preamble to the program (aired Tue 27 Dec 2016):
This was the year of ‘post-truth’ politics, fake news and when some of the foundations of how global politics and trade are determined have been questioned. In many ways this has been a year when the silent majority has become vocal, and when old certainties have been questioned. This has also been a year when the internet has proved to be about something much more than about educating and connecting – and as a result has it made us not just less informed, but dangerously ill-informed and disconnected?
The internet is making us “dangerously ill-informed and disconnected” is it? I was under the impression that the exact opposite was happening. Is this a real concern or is the mainstream media (MSM) just worried that they are losing their grip over the distribution of “information”? I will be coming back to this question in more detail in future posts, but in general I think the explosion of information sharing and debate on the internet is something to be welcomed very enthusiastically, even if quite a lot of misinformation is flying around. There are also a lot of facts and great arguments flying around as well, and consequently lazy MSM journalism is being challenged as never before, and that can only be a good thing for the rest of us.
The program reflects on the fact that areas in the UK and the US are still struggling with the after effects of the closure of large scale industries in the “rust belt” in the US and in the north of the UK. The conclusion here is that the rising economic tide has failed to “lift all boats”. Its true, there are still areas plagued by high unemployment both in the UK and the US, and these areas do correspond pretty much with former industrial areas. The sub-text to all this is that policy from the 1980s onward has failed these areas, and this has caused the people in these areas to vote for (what the BBC wants to portray as the twin disasters of) Brexit and Trump. A lot of areas in the UK which have not benefited so much from a rising economic tide have also suffered from high levels of immigration, a point made by some of the UKIP supporters that Mr. Little interviews.
Mr. Little then interviews an American pro-Democrat writer called Naomi Wolf who apparently (according to Wikipedia) is a “third wave feminist” (whatever the heck that is). She bemoans some of Obama’s policies, suggesting that Democrats have become complacent and turned a blind eye to things they shouldn’t have:
6:45 …if our democracy was still strong it wouldn’t matter that we have a crazy man in the White House ….
if you spend 12 years dismantling checks and balances enacting secret law suspending aspects of the constitution …
You’re left with rubble when the demagogue is elected ….
Mr. Little then turns his attention to the Brexit campaign, describing how:
9:30 Boris Johnson and Michael Gove toured the country in a bus emblazoned with the now notorious slogan “we send £350m a week to Brussels lets spend it on the NHS instead” …. Many said it was a sign that British politics had entered a new era, known as “post-truth“.
He then makes an astonishing claim, about this “notorious slogan”:
10:10 … it seems to have disappeared from the national debate about Brexit
Mr. Little is indulging in a little “post-truthiness” himself here, it has not “disappeared from the national debate” at all, in fact the MSM have been talking about this one gaffe by the Leave campaign almost non-stop ever since the referendum result was in. They have been using this single point relentlessly to try to undermine the result, as will become clear as we examine articles from the other usual suspects. Let’s pause a moment here and think carefully about this point, as we’re going to be hearing about it over and over again.
First of all, the £350m claim was refuted (in this article dated 27 May 2016):
The Institute for Fiscal Studies earlier this week labelled the £350m figure “clearly absurd” and said that an accurate figure of the net UK contribution taking into account the rebate and spending in Britain was £175m a week – half the Leave figure.
Further, the House of Commons Treasury Committee today branded the £350m claim “highly misleading” in a new report on the costs and benefits of the EU. Andrew Tyrie, the committee’s chair, said the Leave campaign’s battle bus should be “repainted” as soon as possible.
Granted, it was misleading, but how much significance did it really have in persuading people to vote for Brexit? Very little I suspect, almost no effect at all probably. I have yet to hear a single Leave voter say they have changed their mind about Brexit as a result of this slogan being refuted.
Everyone I know who voted Leave voted Leave for a whole mountain of other reasons including –
- Open borders within the EU and the resulting mass immigration into the UK (probably the main reason). Note that other countries haven’t been complaining so much about the open borders mainly no doubt because their countries have not been seeing such high levels of mass immigration.
- The fact the EU leaders seem to have no interest in defending the EU’s external borders from illegal immigration (millions of young men have been swarming across the Med, mostly from Muslim majority countries)
- The looming prospect of an EU army (quite what its for considering the previous point we don’t know – defence and security does not seem to figure very highly at all in the EU’s thinking)
- EU red-tape hampering businesses (that’s a very big reason among small business owners especially)
- The undemocratic nature of it (Juncker was not elected by the people for example)
- The fact that some very bad people could not be deported from the UK because of their “right to a family life”
- Attacks on the freedom of the press and freedom of speech
- The situation in Ukraine
- UK fishing rights
…and lots and lots and lots of other reasons. I simply don’t believe that this claim about the exact amount the UK gives to the EU each week seriously came into it – and in any case £175m a week is still a lot of money.
The relentless repeating of this one criticism of the Leave campaign in the MSM is a good example of the technique of “saturation”. The MSM know really that this slogan wasn’t that big a deal in the result, but by relentlessly reminding us of it they create doubt in the public’s minds and raise the hopes of those who still want to remain in the EU. Just how big an impact it had is impossible to prove with absolute certainty, so it can’t be said that they are simply lying about it. Of course the motive behind this particular use of saturation is to try to increase the chances of a second referendum being held that they hope would overturn the Brexit result.
Returning to the program now, Mr. Little seems to think that the US has really gone over the edge into the “post-truth” era, he thinks the UK is still just managing to keep a better perspective (no doubt thanks to the existence of the UK’s Ministry of Truth (aka the BBC)):
10:47 There is still a public square in British politics where you will meet views you do not like… its gone in America and it could go here too. The dangers to democracy are obvious.
Blimey, the end is nigh then, you will see what I mean now about the doom-laden tone of this program. The “public square” is gone from US politics is it? I had to listen to this a second time to make sure he really said that. I wonder if any readers from the US would like to express their opinion about that statement – add comments below this post?
Seemingly in an attempt to back this claim up with some hard evidence, Mr. Little then interviews an old school news editor who refers to a satirical “fake news” website that emerged during the Trump campaign.
13:29 “Pope Francis shocks world endorses Donald Trump releases statement” …. This was shared a million times on social media, the debunking of that was shared 30,000 times.
This old school guy is trying to imply that most people who saw the statement must have believed it because they didn’t look for a debunking of the statement! LOOK, YOU DON’T NEED TO HAVE THAT STATEMENT DEBUNKED IT IS OBVIOUSLY A JOKE!!!! I’m pretty sure (reasonably sure) that most people who saw this statement just thought hey that’s a funny bit of fake news (LOL) and soon forgot about it. Anybody that did believe it is too dumb to vote sensibly anyway, and most of those people normally vote for the Democrats, as revealed by Mark Dice’s petition to gain approval for Karl Marx’s appointment as Hillary Clinton’s economic adviser.
At this point, only half way through this BBC program about the “post-truth” era we are supposed to be entering, I have had enough of hearing the BBC view, I’m done. Let’s move on to the next of the usual suspects.
Here, the Guardian announce the fact that the Oxford dictionary has declared the phrase as the “word of the year” for 2016:
‘Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries
In the era of Donald Trump and Brexit, Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” to be its international word of the year.
The spike in usage, it said, is “in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States”.
Why has there been a spike in usage?? BECAUSE THE MSM HAVE BEEN USING THE WORD A LOT!!! The MSM have generated their own news here. By not mentioning the fact that its the MSM who have pushed the phrase in the first place, they are subtly distancing themselves from the “news” that the Oxford dictionary found a spike in usage of the term during the campaigns of Brexit and Trump. This helps to subliminally create an impression that this “post-truth” phenomenon is something that’s really happening in the real world.
Looking back to May 2016 however (when the spike began) we see this article in the Guardian:
Post-truth politicians such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are no joke
This article begins with a major attack on Donald Trump, for example:
To adapt Mary McCarthy’s critique of the novelist Lillian Hellman, every word Trump says is a lie, including “and” and “the”.
Well I somehow doubt if even most people who actually voted for Trump take every word he says at face value, but to suggest EVERYTHING Trump says is a lie, well that is itself a big lie, obviously. They are joking, we know that, except they aren’t really, they mean it.
The writer then proceeds to attack Boris Johnson (BoJo). First they point to the claim on the Leave campaign battle bus that the UK was sending £350m a week to the EU:
Emblazoned on the side was the slogan: “We send the EU £350 million a week.” Except it’s not true
It seems that almost every time the phrase “post-truth” appears in the UK media, there is a mention of this single error by the Leave campaign.
The writer then attacks BoJo’s mocking dig at what was called “project fear” by the Leave campaign:
…his critique of David Cameron’s speech on Monday, which had focused on the national security implications of a Brexit. Johnson hit back:
“I think all this talk of world war three and bubonic plague is demented, frankly.”
Now, its clear to anyone with a half a brain that BoJo is making a joke here to make a point, as BoJo often does. He is not suggesting that Cameron ACTUALLY SAID that Brexit would lead to World War Three and bubonic plague. But wait, did I say this is clear to anyone with half a brain? To the Guardian writer it seems, its NOT clear:
Who but a cretin would suggest that the black death would be the result of a British break from the EU? And yet a scan of the text of Cameron’s speech yields no results for either “bubonic” or “world war three”.
The Guardian writer actually went back and checked Cameron’s speech to see if the words were there, I’m a bit speechless! I can’t go any further with this article, time to move on to the next…
In this article the Independent does at least recognize that lying in the world of politics is not exactly a new phenomenon:
That’s a good point, lets pause and remember just a tiny number of episodes from the days prior to this new “post-truth” era:
- Richard Nixon – “I am not a crook,”
- George W Bush – “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
- Tony Blair’s govt. – “Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to use them.”
- Tony Blair’s govt. – Did not disclose new Labour’s plan to “rub the right’s nose in diversity” by letting millions of people immigrate into the country.
- David Cameron – promised that his govt. would reverse the trend begun by New Labour and reduce immigration to the 10s of 1000s – no ifs no buts he said.
- Bill Clinton – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman [Monica Lewinsky]”.
- The Clintons – All sorts of accusations and counter-accusations are swirling around the Clinton Foundation and have been doing so for some time. Someone is not telling the truth.
- Banking Crisis – One can only begin to imagine how many lies were told before and during the banking crisis of 2008.
- Gordon Brown – I saved the world.
More predictably there is yet another reference in this Independent article to the £350m claim on the battle bus.
The article points to coverage of the war in Syria:
I suspect that “post-truth” has more to do with social media than mendacious elections. The use of social media in reporting the battle of eastern Aleppo has been extraordinary, weird, dangerous, even murderous, when not a single Western journalist could report the eastern Aleppo war at first hand. Much damage has been done to the very credibility of journalism – and to politicians…
This is another dig at social media of course from the MSM, but at least the Independent acknowledges that journalists and politicians haven’t exactly been covering themselves with glory in their coverage of this war. I’ll come back to the subject of Syria in the next post.
The economist took a hilarious dig at Donald Trump’s claim that “Obama is the founder of ISIS and Hillary Clinton is the co-founder”:
No says the economist, he wasn’t joking, he really meant that literally – Obama is the commander in chief of the Islamic State, apparently! No doubt Obama personally ordered those be-headings (I jest here of course he didn’t).
Then, just as all the above articles did, the economist repeats the point about the EU £350m slogan, and sneers at the (actually worrying if you have a brain and know anything about Islam) prospect of Turkey joining the EU:
And he is not the only prominent practitioner of post-truth politics. Britons voted to leave the European Union in June on the basis of a campaign of blatant misinformation, including the “fact” that EU membership costs their country £350m ($470m) a week, which could be spent instead on the National Health Service, and that Turkey is likely to join the EU by 2020.
We don’t know if Turkey will join the EU by 2020 (or any time in the future), we don’t know at all. The arguments against this happening were all based on the fact that the EU has requirements about new members joining that Turkey would supposedly not meet. What we do know is that the EU is supposed to have rules, and when Greece joined the EURO, the rules were ignored. So, people no longer TRUST the EU, and with good reason. Its not perhaps so much a case of post-truth here, as post-trust. What’s more, the EU has a very friendly attitude towards Islam in general, as revealed in a speech by Federica Mogherini , the “High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”, when she said that:
Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and – what matters most – in Europe’s present and future
That’s another reason for wanting to get out of the EU by the way, at least in my book. I don’t want Islam in my culture or in my food thanks very much.
Of course we are not at all entering a “post-truth” era and the mainstream media know this well enough. The media’s repetitive use of the phrase “post-truth” is a deliberate ploy to try to slander both Brexit and Trump’s election as being based PRIMARILY on misinformation. This is another case of “saturation” – an idea being relentlessly repeated across the mainstream media.
What is happening is that people of the West are finally beginning to rise up against the elites who have (among other anti-democratic things) been rubbing the public’s nose in diversity by allowing and encouraging huge, unprecedented levels of mass immigration that have changed whole communities beyond recognition in a very short space of time. The establishment viewpoint characterized by the phrase “political correctness” is being undermined very significantly as seen in the Brexit result and the election of Donald Trump.
We would rather elect a less “experienced” politician (experienced at politics that is) who we believe to have our best interests at heart (even if they say daft things from time to time) than a career politician who is well-practiced at the art of deceit and does not have the people’s best interests at heart.