Time to Commit the Twitter Twit

Franklin, Contributor

For all the blistering criticism facing the Facebook, they finally did something laudable this last week when they banned dangerous morons like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Louis Farrakhan, and a few other deplorables from their social media site.  Of course, Trump, aka Twitler, decided that the best use of his presidential executive time on a Saturday morning was to defend these hate-mongering, anti-Semitic, conspiracy-loving shitheads by claiming that they were the victims of unwarranted censorship. He went on to talk about how social media was biased against conservatives… Well, if that’s whose speech conservatives choose to cherish, then maybe there is some bias?

Well, alt-right dumbasses, that’s correct! Social media is, indeed, biased against people who promote hate speech and violence. In fact, it’s a perverse modern miracle that Trump’s even allowed to tweet out his banal, hate-filled bullshit when he ought to be, well, doing his job! That’s true, even if half of Twitler’s Twitter followers are Russian bots or Rudy Giulliani using multiple assumed identities.

As a Canine-American, I have more dignity, honor, and self-respect when I secretly eat cat turds out of the litterbox than when Trump Twitler crazy tweets at all hours from his gaudy gilded commode. Ooops- did I say that out loud?

I mean, the truly sad part is that this imbecile currently has a 46% approval rating and that fully a third of Americans thinks he’s doing a bang-up job. Of course, these same people thought Duck Dynasty and Honey-Boo were national treasures and wholeheartedly believe professional wrestling is real. They also think Betsy DeVos put the ‘y’ in education. They delight in ignorance, cruelty, and selfishness. Sadly, they require saving from themselves.

Look, it’s time to commit the Twitter twit. Trump isn’t making America great again, he’s lining his pockets and pissing on every last thing we hold dear in this country. It’s not just the documented ten thousand lies, it’s his blatant obstruction of justice, money laundering, and penchant for putting self-serving dipshits in charge of government agencies whose sole objectives are chaos and destruction. Trump needs to be committed to a penal or mental health facility. It’s not just his perpetual demeaning of the presidency or obviously criminal acts, it’s his unrelenting bigotry and peevish partisanship that’s turning America into a third-world autocracy.

Trump has triggered a constitutional crisis by ignoring Congressional subpoenas and illegally resisting any type of oversight or accountability. His Republican sycophants are willing accomplices and, they too, do not deserve the offices they hold. It’s time to hold Trump accountable on a very short leash. To commit to voting him out of office or committing him to a place where he’ll feel comfortable wearing his natural color, orange.

He has no business being in the White House when he exhibits conduct that’s suited for the Big House. Folks, it’s only going to get worse as he remains in the Oval Office. We’ve got to ensure the investigations continue, and more importantly, that we vote his sorry ass out in 2020, if he’s not already facing impeachment.

Our government works when we, the people (and enlightened Canine-Americans), hold it accountable. I mean, we saw this coming when we found out that there’d be no dog in the White House. I don’t think it’s because he didn’t want one, I think it’s because dogs have good sense about people and no dog wanted to be around him. It’s just a theory.

So, let’s quit chasing our tails and let’s wake up from our national nightmare. Americans are what make America great- in all their wonderful diversity and their commitment to authentic American values.

Trump and his ilk have no values and no conscience. It’s time to commit the twit.

Who gets to define “fake news”?

Clete Wetli, Contributor

As Facebook faces a Congressional inquiry and public relations nightmare into their sharing of private user information and the dissemination of fake news, we must determine what exactly makes a news story fake. It’s not enough to simply claim that a biased or slanted piece is fake and it’s also dangerous to haphazardly label satire and other forms of written expression as fake to suppress circulation.

News is broadly defined as the reporting of recent noteworthy or important events. It is supposed to convey the facts and the relevant, salient details of a situation that has changed. Pieces are published or broadcast based on their potential to engage news consumers and that decision is based on a subjective opinion of the piece’s newsworthiness or importance. Obviously, opinions and editorials are commentary on news, but in today’s media landscape they are often infused in the reporting of news. Opinion injected into news may be annoying or distasteful, but it doesn’t necessarily render news as suddenly fake. It may make the presentation of the news slanted and may influence consumers to feel a certain way about it. When this happens in its most extreme form, it is propaganda.

Fake news is a deliberate attempt to make a news story appear true when the writer or publisher knows that it is based on lies, hearsay, or that pertinent facts have been purposely omitted. This can be treacherous as stories develop quickly, change dramatically in substance, and when the totality of facts is not immediately known.

Although the methods and forms of news products has changed, it is worth remembering that this conflict is certainly not new in our society. Revisiting the legacies of William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and Joseph Goebbels are, indeed, illuminating when studying the effects of mass media and deliberate bias in shaping public opinion. Fundamentally, mass media communication has always been a deliberate decision between a sender of information and a receiver. In this discussion, both bear culpability in the arena of “fake news.” Senders, or publishers, have a responsibility to accurately label their content. Receivers, or consumers, bear the task of determining the validity of content and, more importantly, must accept the idea that no one source should be blindly accepted as definitive. Consumers need to do their research. Publishers need to be ethical and carefully label content to avoid consumer confusion.

For example, twentytwentynews.com is clearly left-wing commentary and it’s labeled as such. The moniker of “news” in the title is appropriate because it deals with changing, noteworthy current events and it’s made immediately clear to readers that the news is presented through editorial comment. No one comes to this site expecting a “just the facts” presentation devoid of interpretive insight or commentary. Just in case there is any confusion, the editor and mascot is a hipster Yorkie, which should serve as a big clue to those might mistake it for, say, CNN or The New York Times. Twentytwentynews.com doesn’t pretend to be something that it is not and, in fact, celebrates its dedication to liberal ideology and political policy. For example, when we’ve had fake satirical interviews between the Yorkie and public figures, it’s not masquerading as truth and may God help you if you are confused in any way. If you are, we’ll have Franklin, the Yorkie editor-in-chief call you to clear up any misunderstandings.

In a world where we can’t trust corporate publishers to be forthright about their labeling of content and suspect that news stories may be slanted for political purposes, it is up to consumers to do their research and step out of their algorithmic, pre-determined comfort zones. However, after you fight off nausea due to watching a few minutes of Fox and Friends to learn how crazy people think, you can always come back to twentytwentynews.com for some mental healing and reading material that is significantly higher than our president’s preferred fourth-grade vocabulary level.

The battle over defining “fake news” is just one skirmish in the modern media war. The only way to win in this war is to seek higher truths, to critically read dissenting opinions, and to remain skeptical and analytical.

Remember, if it walks like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, if it talks like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, if it tweets like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, it’s probably Donald Trump and don’t let delusional apologetic conservative blow-hards with orange-tainted lips tell you any different.

Clete wrote something that offended me- I’m going to my safe place

facebook, censorship, intolerance

Clete Wetli, Contributor

I was incredulous this last week when the morons at Facebook banned me from posting to groups for a week because they claimed my article link had either offended someone or it had been reported as spam. Are you fucking kidding me? Honestly, it could have been Franklin’s piece, our Canine-American editor, but what kind of anencephalic idiot bans a liberal Yorkie, without an opposable thumb, that can type?

Over the last few years, some very fragile and whiny liberals have politely requested that I not post on their groups because they felt my posts were “off-topic”. I’ve complied, even though I felt their polite censorship was counter-productive and ridiculous. Oh, the horrors of having to endure an opinion that isn’t exactly the same as yours…

One of the reasons mainstream Americans can’t stand liberals is because of this kind of stupid shit. When did we get so overly-sensitive that we feel it’s imperative to ban or report someone who doesn’t share the exact same view we have? I know it’s really difficult to just scroll past an opinion article on a Facebook group that was set up for community organizing, but do you really think that it’s a good idea to report or censor that person who’s on your side?

If what I just wrote offends you, then please go to your fucking safe place and watch your puppy video and use your inhaler until you think you can handle more. C’mon folks, we’re better than this. I thought Democrats and liberals were all about free speech. Apparently, that’s only true if people agree with you.

This is exactly why I’ve spent the last several years going on the Dale Jackson Show on WVNN as a weekly guest and hosted my own liberal talk show for a year on that hard-right conservative station. Dale Jackson, unlike some liberals, actually welcomes opposing points of view because it makes for good radio and entertaining, thoughtful, and confrontational debate. Yet, many liberals are too afraid to even talk to Dale and that, my friends, is another big reason we keep losing.

It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and troll and complain about things you don’t like. It takes a little courage to articulately express your opinion and engage in some meaningful debate. So, whoever decided to turn me or Franklin over to the Facebook gestapo- you won for a very brief moment, but we will be back. You can stew in self-righteous anger and indignation and file as many complaints as you like.

Or, maybe you could try writing an opposing opinion or going on a talk show and defending your viewpoint. Maybe, you could do something more than filing an anonymous complaint or showing up to rallies with twenty people sporting clever hand-made signs bitching about the injustices of the world.

Look, I get it, but liberals need to get the fact that you can’t preach tolerance while practicing intolerance. People have written some truly nasty commentary on my work and expressed some morally bankrupt opinions on my Facebook page. You know what? I let them. I heard them. I engaged them. I may not have changed their mind, but I let them talk. I let them because people could then see the folly of their arguments and the flaws in their points. They were self-evident. That’s what free speech is all about. You know what else? I learned a few things from the people I vehemently disagreed with. It made my points stronger and my arguments better.

Enjoy your safe space, my deeply offended friend. When you come out, you’re still going to have to deal with reality and deal with opinions you don’t like. If you’d like to actually start winning some elections, it would be really fucking sensible to quit censoring folks that are on your side and learn how to listen to those you oppose.

If you think I’m offensive now, just wait until my book comes out… Until then, feel free to boldly make your anonymous comments and complaints to Mark Zuckerberg, the guy who sold ads to Russians who posed as fake Americans to meddle in our election for Trump.

That’s all, snowflake, you can go cuddle with your puppy video…

The Unholy Power of Confirmation Bias

confirmation, bias, facebook

Clete Wetli, Contributor

There is new evidence that the Russians interfered with the 2016 U.S. election by purchasing targeted social media ads to promote misinformation and fake news. Obviously, there are troubling questions about how they knew which specific geographic targets to select and if that was coordinated using people from Trump’s campaign apparatus or from the info they hacked from voter registration databases. As more investigatory details emerge from the Russia probe, what remains clear is that many Americans are gullible because they are entrenched in confirmation bias.

They were ingenious because most of these ads didn’t mention candidate names or political parties. Instead, they focused on divisive social issues and were designed to spark outrage. Of course, the outraged viewer often shared the planted post and it soon had a viral life of its own as post shares increased exponentially.

Confirmation bias certainly isn’t new, but the way political strategists have learned to exploit it is groundbreaking. Typically, this phenomenon has been associated with scientific research to describe the tendency of people to interpret information, especially ambiguous information, in a way that reinforces their preconceived ideas or beliefs. More recent research of confirmation bias has shown that it affects everything from selective memory to food preferences, and most importantly, political views.

Prior to the rise of social media and endless cable news cycles, the problem clearly existed, but had not metastasized into the malignant epidemic that is abundantly evident today. Much of this spurred by the algorithms in search engines and social media platforms that try to hypothesize what information and advertising you would most like to consume. Often, we share articles and information we like with our friends on social media and most of these friends hold a similar political belief or worldview. This effect can cause people who had little interest in voting to decide to finally get involved. This happens on both sides of the aisle. During this last election, the Russians figured out how to rile up Trump’s base enough to get them to the polls in the targeted districts that swung the Electoral College in Trump’s favor.

The unholy power of confirmation bias is immutable and dangerous. It causes people to reject contradictory evidence and to eschew diversity of thought and opinion. Right now, it can be seen in the extreme polarization of partisan politics. Although conservative and liberal ideologies have little in common, they do, indeed, have things in common. However, in today’s political environment it is becoming a rarity for the extremes of both sides to admit any commonality at all.

For liberals, it’s important that we realize the power of this phenomenon and to avoid the “echo-chamber” trap that conservatives fell into long ago. It may mean liking some conservative Facebook pages or a friending a political figure with opposing views. Sometimes, your peers will question those choices, but it’s important to tell them that you are doing it to simply consider opposing views and to learn what others are thinking and why.

The Russians knew that Americans were lazy consumers of news and opinion. They exploited that as they actively interfered in our election. Our best defense against this intrusion is to learn to not believe everything we read at face-value. We need to do more research and read from different sources. We need to expose ourselves to different points of view. Occasionally, we can recognize commonality or even validate a sound position from our opposition knowing it didn’t come from “our” side.

Lately, there seem to be too many politicians that are solely focused on preaching to the choir. They aren’t engaging in substantive debate with the opposition because they feel the will learn nothing useful. They’re certainly not trying to genuinely understand the foundation of opposing views. Yet, that’s the key to winning the debate and finding common ground if, and where, it exists.

A little skepticism never hurts. For liberals to win, we can’t just exclusively listen to each other, we’ve got to hear from the other side periodically. Even my crazy conservative neighbor is like the clichéd broken clock- he’s right twice a day. Although the sooner we replace him, the better.

Facebook faces backlash over Russian meddling