How do we repair our institutions in the age of Pizzagate and flat Earth conspiracy theories?
As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy –– and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers.
The Pizzagate pedophile conspiracy, crisis actors at Sandy Hook, the flat Earthers...and on and on. Absolute nonsense peddled by the cynical and the naive, and eagerly lapped up by the gullible. Misinformation is a problem that Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, has studied for years. In this interview, Brendan and Bob discuss new research on how Americans form their political beliefs and how civic institutions may begin to win back their trust.
The families of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 are suing a conspiracy theorist who claims the massacre was a hoax. Their lawsuits are bringing the issue of “fake news” to the courts.
On today’s episode:
• Elizabeth Williamson, a reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times.
• The families of eight Sandy Hook victims, as well as an F.B.I. agent who responded to the massacre, are suing the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defamation. Relatives of the victims have received death threats from those who embrace the falsehoods Mr. Jones has propagated on his website Infowars, which has an audience of millions.