The Real Culprit

It’s easy to take a look at the vile, openly racist, authoritarian-esque Twitter feed of the current President of the United States and think “man, Twitter isn’t great for politics.” It’s a lot easier to be told that by a cable news network with everything to lose if people begin looking for other sources of information. That line of thought also misses the origin of nearly all of Trump’s tirades – they directly stem from the words of Fox News’ half entertainment, half news, entirely propagandized daily lineup. Propaganda is not a term anyone should use lightly, but the line between bias and propaganda was crossed the second Donald Trump picked up the phone and began discussing messaging with Fox anchor Sean Hannity.[1]

Take a look at the President’s attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar, those which culminated in the disgusting “send her back” chant at a Trump rally in North Carolina on July 19th. Ten days before Trump’s crowd demonstrated what a white supremacist political movement sounds like, Tucker Carlson went on a similarly abhorrent rant on Fox News. Carlson – who has referred to Iraqi people on live radio as “semiliterate primitive monkeys” [2] – called Rep. Omar, the first Somali-American and first refugee elected to Congress, “a living fire alarm” for change in immigration policy. Again, Trump speaks with the anchors at Fox on a regular basis, so him emulating Carlson’s racism and allowing the crowd to support it is no surprise. It very well could have been planned.

What, however, was the platform that Rep. Omar used to respond to Carlson’s rant? Or the subsequent attacks by the President? What platform did the not-racist world use to fire back at the President’s haranguing attack on the majority-black City of Baltimore and its pioneering Representative Elijah Cummings? Twitter. Twitter has its flaws, of course, but it can be used as an extremely valuable tool by those who cannot pass the barriers to entry built into traditional media. It allows the user to view the basis of information, if it is evidenced, through an attached link; it doesn’t exclusively rely on the respectability of a certain media corporation; it inherently cannot allow an agenda to be pushed on all fronts – it is a platform for all, and it leaves it to the navigator to find its value.

For what should be an information-centered platform in the context of politics, Twitter really only requires two things to make it useful. Those are political influencers who link their sources and users who only look for the influencers that use sources. The first part is very much so a reality already, the second only requires a little bit of widespread education on how the internet works. Once those two conditions are present, Twitter becomes something even greater than a platform for all. It becomes the first streamlined, easy to use service for real time information about politics and governance. It allows people from different backgrounds to bring light to issues they have experience with, as opposed to cable’s information-light, generalized reporting about political “winners” and “losers” that is only really relevant on television and in D.C. social circles. It is what brought the #BlackLivesMatter movement to prevalence, it is what made family separation a household term, and it could very well be the end of this dangerous presidency should progressives use it to build a grassroots movement in 2020.

Most importantly, it is a source of information unabridged by the opinions of wealthy anchor men and women. When you find a link from a valuable source, when you read information that source gives you, and when you feel something about that information, you aren’t just hearing what people think about something. You are thinking about it, critically, for yourself. There are millions of dollars that have been spent telling you that the internet is not a useful source of information, because the people who have controlled information since the dawn of television have many more millions to lose if it continues on its current path. So I ask you to do a few simple things: learn what a good source looks like, question and read about what you hear, and only take information from others – make your opinions yourself.

[1] Rosenstiel, Tom. How Fox News evolved into a propaganda operation. Web, March 22, 2019.

[2] Bryant, Miranda. “Omar Hits Back at ‘racist Fool’ Tucker Carlson after Fox News Host’s on-Air Rant.” The Guardian, July 10, 2019, sec. US news.


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