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The demise of misinformation

By 2353NM

Some probably have sympathy for the American ‘conservative warrior’ Alex Jones who has recently lost a lawsuit instigated by the parents of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting. Jones has admitted he has been incorrectly claiming the shooting in 2012 as a hoax for years. Clearly, the Texas jury actually looked at the evidence when they found him guilty. The initial penalty was $4 million – a few days later an additional $43.2 million penalty was added in punitive damages which is to be paid by Jones and his associated entities.

Jones and his website were banned from Facebook and Instagram in 2019 as they (and others banned at the same time)

violated its policy against dangerous individuals and organisations. The company says it has “always banned” people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.

Jones is also being sued in Connecticut and elsewhere in Texas by the families of other victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting and an FBI agent.

It seems that the judgement against Alex Jones and his related entities may not be an isolated reaction to the influence of conservative cultural warriors. In the USA’s Republican Primaries (a process similar to Australian political parties’ pre-selections), Dan Newhouse, one of the 10 Republicans that voted in favour of former President Trump’s impeachment, has increased his level of support against an opponent that was endorsed by Trump

Probably the most egregious use of misinformation is former President Trump and his supporters’ claims that the 2020 US Presidential election was somehow rigged. While according to The Conversation Trump is still attempting to rewrite history, there have been signs in 2022 that grip is not as strong as it looked. While many Republican candidates have sought Trump’s endorsement by declaring he won the 2020 election, Trump-backed candidates have had mixed fortunes in the Republican primaries.

Democrats have been so confident of the unelectability of some of these candidates they have actively supported them against stronger Republican moderates.

Before the January 6 hearings began, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger both won massive Republican primary victories, despite earning Trump’s continuing wrath for refusing to overturn the 2020 election result in their state.

Significantly, Trump also seems to be losing some of his most valuable media supporters in the wake of the January 6 hearings. The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post and Wall Street Journal both editorialised against Trump after the last televised hearing. The Post declared him “unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again”, and the Journal praised Mike Pence, a likely 2024 rival.

The recent raid on Trump’s Florida mansion demonstrates that he has lost considerable influence, despite the bluster.

It seems that the business model of peddling misinformation is being called out with greater frequency in the USA. Dominion Voting Systems, the manufacturer of vote counting machines used in parts of the USA and elsewhere is claiming $1.6 Billion damages against News Corp (the owner of Fox News) and running concurrent claims against other media and related entities that made claims their equipment contributed to Trump’s misleading claims of an election steal. News Corp’s bid to have the case thrown out was itself thrown out of court.

Elsewhere in the world personal damages laws are different to those in the USA. The courts’ decisions in the USA still do to some extent provide precedents to courts in other jurisdictions that outright misinformation told repeatedly is injurious to those targeted. Now that there is a precedent, will the Australian conservative rent seekers who never let the facts get in the way of their misinformation learn to control their hyperbole and persecution of ‘opponents’ before or after one of those that is wronged (and with deep pockets) take them to court? Clive Palmer and Mark McGowan recently found out that there are consequences to overblown and ‘heat of the moment’ claims without substance so there are precedents in our legal system.

There are examples being revealed regularly where the former Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Coalition Government presented misinformation by hiding reports that didn’t correspond with their claimed position, presenting grants to organisations where there were other similar organisations in far greater need of the largesse or targeting decisions and legislation to suit political need. Is it any wonder former PM Morrison showed no inclination to invest in an anti-corruption body that could actually investigate corruption?

It’s clear the misinformation tactics so readily employed by conservatives for the last decade or so are found to be wanting when held up to scrutiny. Over the years, numerous trends in the USA make their way over to this side of the Pacific relatively quickly – let’s hope holding peddlers of misinformation to account ‘flies across the Pacific’ quickly.

What do you think?


This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. New England Cocky

    Over too many years I have ;learned that you can only trust COALition politicians to look after their own personal pecuniary interests to the detriment of the best interests of all other Australian voters.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Conservative fraud, greed, ambition, posing, snobbery, loudmouthed declarations, insistent idiocy, strident mediocrity, pushy paucity of intellect, vacuuminous cerebral processes, denials, assertions, dogmatic dramatics have ALL contributed to a poorer progress report for this nation than it should have had. Talent, knowledge, experience, qualifications, skills, maturity, all are less trusted than ever, by knowall duds, cunning liars, double crossing riggers and rorters.., so do not listen to the results of a rigged and ridiculous line of faith, hope, superstiton, dirty dream or swollen egofixated fool. Never…Alex Alan and Scott Barnaby are futtering frauds, not fine fellows.

  3. RoadKillCafe

    But, 2353NM, my poor memory tells me that the republicans that voted for the dumpster’s impeachment, only two have survived the pre selection process and that post FBI raid, the dumpster’s pac has made fucking squillions. Mate, either I’m imagining things or your view is slightly coloured. What do you think?

  4. 2353NM

    RKC – While a number of those who voted for Trump’s impeachment haven’t survived, The Guardian’s article linked above discusses

    ‘Trump-backed candidates have had mixed fortunes in the Republican primaries. Democrats have been so confident of the unelectability of some of these candidates they have actively supported them against stronger Republican moderates.’

    I don’t have enough knowledge of the USA’s PAC system to comment on how they work or what they do but I do understand they are funds for each candidate to use – not the political party. However if Trump’s private fundraising is making millions I suspect it wouldn’t be the only one and fools and their money can easily be parted.

  5. Terence Mills

    I understand that the advertising algorithms which determine the number of hits to websites or, in the case of Alex Jones listeners to his radio rantings, work on the basis of numbers and the radio station and website receive advertising revenues accordingly.

    So, it was in the interests of Jones to make absolutely outrageous claims denying the Sandy Hook massacre and any number of conspiracy claims, so that punters would tune in possibly in disbelief and the more outrageous he was the more the money kept rolling in.

    It’s a highly cynical business model !

  6. Andrew Smith

    For all the bombast of noisy GOP types and the remiss silence of the moderate minority, a Trump run will split the GOP further, and even more if he sets up his own party

    Related, from Crikey today ‘An open letter to Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corporation and executive chairman of Fox Corporation
    Lachlan Murdoch has claimed he intends to take court action to resolve a defamation allegation against Crikey. We await your writ.’ regarding Capitol Hill article (to be) published in both the Canberra Times and the NYT.

    However, misinformation will not go away as it is related to one of the most significant, trusted and effective communication channels, according to academic marketing literature, advertising, PR and politics i.e. ‘word of mouth’.

    The media gets the message out then they spread and are reinforced by word of mouth (catalysed by social media); other examples are property (prices always go up, but due to inflation), we have ‘high immigration’ (because we count temporary churn over into the population formula, hence, spiked post 2006), Australia is the best country and Australians are the friendliest people in the world.

  7. Canguro

    Young Lachlan seems, unlike his father, a tad sensitive to critical commentary. Rupert has reportedly never sued for libel or defamation, but Junior seems another kettle of fish.

    Given the Clan’s willingness to harbour a cabal of, shall we say, less than best practice individuals amongst its massive coterie of employees; the sorts of people who will never retire to be taken up by tertiary institutions eager to employ journalists of the highest standards of ethical practice and nuanced intelligence willing to pass on their well-won knowledge of what being a balanced and fair purveyor of factual information – if that is, in fact, a fair assessment of what the art of journalism is about – as opposed to mean-minded partisan individuals of both sexes who are willing to take the filthy lucre offered them in return for the sale of their souls in the interests of the gutter press, it seems slightly surreal that Lachlan Murdoch should take such umbrage at Crikey’s reporting of what any fair-minded individual might also agree to; the constant unreflective support of the Fox News team for Donald Trump, irrespective of the degrees of egregiousness the Orange Monstrosity inflicted upon the American body politic and its unwitting citizenry.

    One might argue that with the squillions squirreled away, the massive set of assets, the unimaginable access to the upper upper echelons of power and the capacity to rub shoulders with the uber-rich 0.005% of the planet’s population, that young Lachy would have better things to do than concern himself with the fleabites of a small publishing concern like Crikey.

    Something’s obviously gotten under his skin. Surely he’s not worried about his family’s credibility… not with their long history of commercial malfeasance?

    Bring it on, says Crikey. I wish them well. It’s in my DNA to root for the little guys, the Davids, against the Goliaths.

  8. len

    Alex Jones weak point is that almost everywhere he looked he saw a conspiracy. Just because there are conspiracies around doesn’t mean every event is one. He should have stuck to making docos. I’m surprised ‘Endgame’ is still up on YouTube.
    2353NM “let’s hope holding peddlers of misinformation to account ‘flies across the Pacific’ quickly” – agreed.
    But ‘misinfo’ is not the only flaw in the trade in public information. There is also the deliberate hiding of info.
    3 contenders for top spot in terms of hiding relevant info from the public discourse are the TGA, ATAGI and AHPRA.
    Earlier this year, US Court Judge Mark Pittman ordered the release of trial data that Pfizer & the FDA wanted to hide from the public for 75 years. The Public Health & Medical Professionals for Transparency group has shown that ‘informed’ consent in the mRNA drug trial was an illusion. The public has been duped. Who would go into a trial if they knew that 1223 people had already died (Pfizer Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Records Reports)?
    7 months on and the TGA has yet to make any public announcements on this matter.
    The probable reason is they are aware of the lawsuits that would follow.
    You want to see criminals in action, look no further.
    You want to see nothing done about this, follow the MSM.

  9. andy56

    Nothing will bring this shit to heel till Trump is in prison. Even Al Capone style charges would be just fine. He has led a charmed life of a narcissist with all its glory. Till the head is chopped off, it will keep going, on, and on and on.

  10. LambsFry Simplex.

    Goes to the core of a number of issues in play at mo.

    Alex Jones, typical right wing shock jock type deliberately misleading society not unlike quite a few in this country- global.

    And how much more nauseating can a person come to be, on some thing like Sandy Hook. It is not accidental it is deliberate, thelying and underlyingly it is a form of thuggery, as the same right to lie is witheld from ordinary people. Think Manning and Assange punished savagely for telling the truth and concerning themselves with the fair go, against the likes of Rush Limbaugh and this current cretin trying like crazy to establish a dumbed down autocracy..

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