Bug-eyed and Shameless
The first of the dispatches from the information war
Joe Biden’s Disinformation Board — an apt name for a middling prog rock band if I ever heard one — met its inglorious end this week, before it ever really got a chance to live.
There was no problem that the Board wasn’t pitched to fix: “Border security, Americans’ safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions,” the Department of Homeland Security rattled off in a statement.
Laudable enough stuff, for most: “Draconian,” “Orwellian,” “dystopian” for others. Right-wing politicians and pundits insisted that it wouldn’t be long before they would be labelled disinformation by the Board.
Such a fate for the Board wasn’t hard to foresee. After all, disinformation artists rarely like being called disinformation — and they are, unsurprisingly, apt to use disinformation to avoid such a label.
Diamond Joe’s Discount Untruth Store was probably a bad idea, anyway. Just another idea in a long list of pitches on how to fight disinformation that never seem to work quite as intended. (More fact checks! Better media literacy! Tiktoks…?)
Over the past few years it’s become clearer and clearer to me that, much like city hall, you can’t fight disinformation. Maybe we should be content with just understanding it.
That’s what this newsletter is all about: A haunted corkboard of our current dystopia.
So grab a push-pin and some red twine and join me:
Bug-eyed and Shameless is a look at the information war we find ourselves in. It will be dispatches from the frontlines of misinformation (bullshit), disinformation (misinformation weaponized), and conspiracy theories (disinformation with a story to tell.) It will be stories of the actors who wield this bullshit: Both the bug-eyed true believers and the shameless hucksters who profit from it.
QAnon’s improbable rise! The anti-vaccine occupation of Ottawa! The history of lizardpeople! Russia’s propaganda madness machine! All available here, in one newsletter.
This newsletter will not be a chore to read. Lorde knows my inbox is full of newsletters that I should be reading. This newsletter will bring you — yes, you!
— interesting stories worth reading. Maybe we’ll learn some lessons along the way.
For the next few weeks, this newsletter will be free. After that, subscriptions will be available for one low, low price.
This newsletter won’t replace my regular reporting for many fine establishments, nor will I stop my insufferable tweeting. This newsletter will just be a little bit extra; a great way to keep track of all the things I’m writing about; and the single most direct way to support my reporting.
Keep your bug eyes fixed on your inbox in the coming days for the first (real) dispatch from the information wars.
Facts are useless in emergencies
Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don't do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts don't stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape