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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Frank Bruni, "How Facebook Warps Our Worlds": Just Facebook? Consider the Damage Done by Obama!

In an exceptional New York Times op-ed entitled "How Facebook Warps Our Worlds," Frank Bruni writes:

"We construct precisely contoured echo chambers of affirmation that turn conviction into zeal, passion into fury, disagreements with the other side into the demonization of it. Then we marvel at the Twitter mobs that swarm in defense of Sanders or the surreal success of Donald Trump’s candidacy, whose historical tagline may well be 'All I know is what’s on the Internet.'"

First, my philosophy regarding Facebook: Just say no! Sure, I use it to identify myself on rare occasions for purposes of writing comments on the Internet, but beyond that? I have no Facebook friends, and I haven't had a visitor in months (years?).

Back now to Bruni. Odd that he uses the words "echo chambers of affirmation" in the paragraph quoted above without mentioning Ben Rhodes, Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. Earlier this month, in a New York Times Magazine article entitled "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru," David Samuels wrote (my emphasis in red):

"In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums, each of which has its own dedicated press corps. 'But then there are sort of these force multipliers,' he said, adding, 'We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them — '

. . . .

As Malley and representatives of the State Department, including Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in formal negotiations with the Iranians, to ratify details of a framework that had already been agreed upon, Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. 'We created an echo chamber,' he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. 'They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.'"

Did you read George Orwell's "1984"?:

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

Orwell was off the mark by some 30 years.

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