The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week I wrote about Timothy Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom, which discusses the mythic needs that fascism satisfies, and describes how propaganda patterns that start in Putin’s Russia have propagated to Europe and the United States. This week I want to look at what made the US political system particularly vulnerable to this kind of disruption.

So this week’s book is Network Propaganda by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts. The authors did a massive analysis of millions of new articles over two years and how they propagated across social media. And they come to an interesting conclusion: American news media is bifurcated, but not polarized. Right and Left are not equivalent.

In other words, there are two news ecosystems in the US: a right-wing one anchored by Fox News and Breitbart, and a more varied one that spans from the center-right to the far left. The two systems deal with partisan propaganda differently: Left-wing propaganda fairly quickly drifts to the center and center-right, where it gets debunked and dies. But right-wing propaganda stays in an echo chamber where it gets reflected and reinforced.

This week’s featured post will flesh that out. It should appear around 11 EST. The weekly summary will cover Trump administration’s efforts to circumvent immigration law, and how that is being blocked by the courts. (Trump wants to make that a personalities issue, but it’s really about the law.) Also the decision to ignore the Khashoggi murder and stand by Saudi Arabia, further analysis of the midterm election results, what’s going on in the Justice Department, and the new climate report. It will close with gross-but-fascinating facts about wombat poop and whale earwax. It should be out a little after noon.

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