The Outstater

April 1, 2024

Common Sense 1; Woke 0

PLEASE FORGIVE this “my faith in human nature is restored” moment.

You do not need anyone to tell you that what comes out of a DEI-soaked executive suite is not as reliable as the lunch talk on the factory floor. You can call it common sense or dispersed knowledge but it is what a wiser generation depended upon to make life’s decisions. I thought it went under in this last wave of political correctness, but I was wrong.

You will be happy to know that it is alive and well in the American public. Three decades of equity preaching and advocacy journalism, which killed the newspaper industry and reduced network audiences to the mentally infirm, have left it untouched. Nobody, it turns out, bought it.

I say “nobody,” but the count is actually 3 percent, that is, those people in any population sample walking around drugged or otherwise addled. The remaining 97 percent, according to a study out of Columbia University, have a limit to how much guff they will take, meaning they either identified a false story outright or had serious doubts. Ninety-seven percent! Wow!

“Is Journalistic Truth Dead? Measuring How Informed Voters Are about Political News” by Charles Angelucci and Andrea Prat is in the April issue of American Economic Review. The expansive and well-designed study was conducted over 11 months involving 15,000 participants. It provides a previously unavailable picture of the influence (or not) of mainstream political news.

“When confronted with a true and a fake news story, 47 percent of subjects confidently choose the true story, 3 percent confidently choose the fake story, and the remaining half are uncertain,” the authors concluded. “Socioeconomic differences are associated with large variations in the probability of selecting the true news story. Partisan congruence between an individual and a news story matters, but its impact is up to an order of magnitude smaller.”

That last means your political stance and social position may be a factor in whether you are fooled by a particular story but common sense prevails throughout. Millions of dollars and entire careers pursuing advocacy journalism (hello, Don Lemon) have been a colossal waste. It’s as if the Indianapolis Star doesn’t exist.

Interestingly, the most discerning group of participants, regardless of political affiliation, was the group the advocacy media warns us is the most untrustworthy: middle-aged, middle-class white men.

“When taken jointly, the overall effect of socioeconomic variables is almost one order of magnitude larger than the partisanship effect,” the authors say. “The probability that an older, high-income, college-educated white man identifies a true story is 18 percentage points greater.” 

So why have we been so convinced all these years that the media was pulling the wool over our eyes? Our friend Andy Horning over at the Libertarian Party has it right. He argues that the leadership of the two major political parties pick candidates that are essentially the same, i.e., in business for themselves as professional politicians. There’s no meaningful choice, Horning insists. 

The parties may claim there are substantive differences in their candidates. The reason we can’t see that, they say, is because of the above debunked media fog. So we are asked to trust the party’s decision or “brand” and ignore what’s happening to our savings account and our liberty.

Tellingly, the solutions proposed by the ruling class have more to do with control than information: “media literacy” efforts, engagement programs, fact-checking platforms and software solutions to block false statements, as well as legal reform and public funding of journalism.

If the actual record is incomprehensible, then, we are supposed to be content voting for the candidate who says he is  “fighting” hardest for us (against what, exactly, is left to the imagination). That is how otherwise simple problems such as the budget, entitlement spending, election integrity and the border go unaddressed. It is the political version of real estate’s “nothing happens until the right people own the land.”

We won’t be fooled by that much longer either. —tcl


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