Friday, November 22, 2019

How Trump 'Hijacked' American Politics With Delusions (and plain nastiness).

They meme’d Trump into the White House.  How was that possible?  How did We The People of the United States allow such a recognized lowlife self-serving deadbeat and showman to be handed the Presidency of this nation?
Well, it started with allowing the US House of Representative to be packed with a bunch of angry scared Tea-partiers with their open contempt for our American government.  They have had one thing in mind, that is to weaken our government to the point that it's easy pickings for the oligarch wannabes such as the Kochs and Murdochs and Ailes (who masterminded the past decades of descent into an alternate reality that dismisses physical reality with a self-certain arrogant contempt that beats all.)

A healthy democracy depends on an informed and engaged citizenry.  Here I share a series of stories that look at one of the reasons we got here.  This threat needs to be recognized and understood  - if we are to try and seriously confront it.  Confront it with what?  With a renewed demand that honesty, truth, ethics do matter to a civil society and our future.  I include excerpts from:

          Greg Epstein,         
          Interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air
          Kara Swisher Book Review, New York Times
          Brian Feldman, New York Magazine
          Kathrine Schwab,  FastCompany
          Strand Book Store  |  YouTube Video
          J Oliver Conroy, The
The Book:

          Annie Karni, Kevin Roose and Katie Rogers, New York Times
          Drew Harwell, Tony Romm, Washington Post
          Allyson Chiu, Washington Post
          Yuliya Talmazan and Monica Alba, NBC News

          Charlie Warzel, New York Times
How Internet Trolls And Online Extremists Are 'Hijacking' American Politics

Heard on Fresh Air  |  November 12, 2019

New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz spent years with far-right online extremists, embedding with them and watching them spread false news by exploiting social media. His new book is Antisocial.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest Andrew Marantz has spent the past three years reporting on the alt-right's use of social media. He's embedded with the people he describes as the trolls and bigots and propagandists who are experts at converting fanatical memes into policy.
Marantz is a staff writer for The New Yorker and started this reporting project during the 2016 presidential campaign. He watched how extremist memes and lies were created and went viral, and he profiled the people creating the means. Marantz has also been reporting on social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, that claim they're dedicated to free speech but have vulnerabilities that have allowed them to become the primary means for spreading disinformation.
His latest articles are about what social media platforms have been doing and have declined to do to prevent purveyors of false news and smears from exploiting social media during the 2020 election. Andrew Marantz is the author of the new book "Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, And The Hijacking Of The American Conversation."


The Trolls Are Everywhere. Now What Are We Supposed to Do?

By Kara Swisher Book Review
  • Published Oct. 10, 2019 | Updated Nov. 6, 2019

Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation

By Andrew Marantz
Forget the decline of gatekeepers. Imagine a world bereft of gates and uncrossable lines, with no discernible rules. That’s the Hadean landscape that has been painted expertly, in dark hues, by Andrew Marantz in his book, “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.”
Hijacking, as Marantz ends up concluding on his long day’s journey into the modern internet, is a mild term for what has gone on ever since a group of innovative tech entrepreneurs started rolling out social media over the last decade. Armed with outward earnestness and well-cloaked dreams of world domination, these digital geniuses promised their creations would result in the best of all possible worlds. Marantz writes: “When pressed, their visions tended toward hazy utopianism: they expected to connect people, to bring us all closer together, to make the world a better place.”
As in the famous novella by Voltaire, that nerdy passel of Candides had not thought through the impact and consequences of their choices. As a result, they ended up creating what might be called The Purge — …


How ‘the Internet broke America’ with The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz

Greg Epstein  • October 4, 2019

When Elizabeth Warren took on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook earlier this week, it was a low moment for what New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz calls “techno-utopianism.”
That the progressive, populist Massachusetts Senator and leading Democratic Presidential candidate wants to #BreakUpBigTech is not surprising. But Warren’s choice to spotlight regulating and trust-busting Facebook was nonetheless noteworthy, because of what it represents on a philosophical level. 
Warren, along with like-minded political leaders, social activists, and tech critics, has begun to offer the first massively popular alternative to the massively popular wave of aggressive optimism and “genius” ambition that characterized tech culture for the past decade or two. …
Enter Marantz, a longtime New Yorker staff writer and Brooklyn, N.Y. resident who has recently trained his attention on tech culture, following around iconic figures on both sides of what he sees as the divide of our time — not between tech greats whose successes make us all better and those who would stop them, but between the alternative figures on the “new right” and the self-understood liberals of Silicon Valley who, according to Marantz, have both contributed to “hijacking the American conversation.” …


Andrew Marantz on How the Far Right Took Over the Internet

By Brian Feldman  |  OCT. 17, 2019

What happened to the internet over the past decade? As online activity became centered on just a handful of websites, opportunistic extremists, hucksters, and misanthropes took advantage of lax oversight to move once-unthinkable ideas into the mainstream. 
At the same time, the platforms who turned a blind eye are still hesitant to cop to their own role in the rise of the alt-right and the resurgence of internet Nazis (who turned out to be real Nazis). 
Some of the most prominent examples of the online right are chronicled in Andrew Marantz’s new book Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation. He spoke to Intelligencer earlier this week about his reporting process, and the current state of online discourse.
On a broad level, how do you approach interviewing the bad characters in this book?
Very, very carefully. I do not at all take lightly the ethical concerns that are intrinsic in broaching or not broaching the subject matter that I’m interested in. I see a lot of glib dismissals of these questions. I see a lot of journalists say, “Well, as long as you write the truth your hands are clean.” 
And first of all, that raises all kinds of thorny questions about “the truth,” and also it’s not always the case that if don’t have any factual errors in your piece that means that you’re ethically in the clear, or even journalistically in the clear.
You can write a piece with all true facts in it and completely miss the larger story. …  {Omission are as important as the facts you list!}


Journalist Andrew Marantz embedded with what he calls “dodgy characters on the internet” for three years to understand how they used social media to propel toxic ideas into the mainstream.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, it seemed to many like the rising tide of alt-right extremists had managed to hijack the national conversation to such an extent that they put their troll-in-chief—or God-Emperor, as some of Trump’s fans call him—in the White House.
How did this happen? How did the unpleasant underbelly of social media become so powerful as to start influencing what people read, how they think—and ultimately, how they voted?
These questions are at the heart of a new book by New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz called Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
He spent three years embedded with fascists and alt-light propagandists, learning their backstories, their ideologies, and how they learned to use social media to propel themselves and their repulsive ideas into the limelight. Fast Company spoke to Marantz about the bright-eyed gatekeepers of new media platforms, why Trump should be banned from Twitter, and whether these people actually believe what they post online.
This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.
Fast Company: How did you first go down the alt-right hate speech rabbit hole, and how did you stay sane while reporting? …
FC: Several times, you portray the descent of a so-called “normie” into radicalization. How did you get inside the heads of people that are very hard for many of us to understand? …
FC: Do these people really actually believe some of this stuff that they’re writing? …
FC: The Overton Window is one of the most powerful metaphors in the book. Can you explain what it is and how it became so influential? …
AM: The Overton Window was this concept invented by a guy named Joe Overton who worked at a think tank and wanted a metaphor to explain how ideas that were once unthinkable could become conceivable and then controversial and then enactable. In the realm of policy, the example people often use is same-sex marriage. Just a few years ago, that was off the political map. That was inconceivable. Now it’s essentially taken for granted, and that is wonderful. …


Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation | Andrew Marantz

Strand Book Store  |  Oct 28, 2019

Marantz discusses his new book, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation. Buy a copy here:

For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in two worlds. The first is the world of social-media entrepreneurs, who, acting out of naïvete and reckless ambition, upended all traditional means of receiving and transmitting information. 
The second is the world of the people he calls "the gate crashers"--the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Antisocial ranges broadly--from the first mass-printed books to the trending hashtags of the present; from secret gatherings of neo-Fascists to the White House press briefing room--and traces how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then how it becomes reality. 
Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape--the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz shows how alienated young people are led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization, and how fringe ideas spread--from anonymous corners of social media to cable TV to the President's Twitter feed. 
Marantz also sits with the creators of social media as they start to reckon with the forces they've unleashed. Will they be able to solve the communication crisis they helped bring about, or are their interventions too little too late?
Andrew Marantz is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he has worked since 2011. His work has also appeared in Harper's, New York, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and many other publications. A contributor to Radiolab and The New Yorker Radio Hour, he has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many other outlets.
Vinson Cunningham is a staff writer and co-theatre critic for The New Yorker. His essays, reviews, and profiles have also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, FADER, Vulture, The Awl, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. A former White House staffer, he now teaches an MFA Writing course at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.   Recorded October 24, 2019


Antisocial review: Andrew Marantz wades into the alt-right morass

As Andrew Marantz discovers in his new book, chutzpah – sheer, outrageous shamelessness – may be the most powerful and most dangerous form of charisma.
The New Yorker writer argues that the unfettered internet created a loose coalition of reactionaries – rightwing muckrakers, pro-Trump trolls and outright fascists – whose cynical exploitation of free speech has derailed American discourse.
The subtext of Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation is Marantz’s anxiety at embedding with bad people and his fear that no matter how much critical distance he tries to maintain, the very act of immersion implicates him. As if to prove the point, his book, although dark and often disturbing, is also sometimes funny thanks to its wry, observatorial style and the surreality of the material. …



Other articles by Andrew Marantz at The New Yorker:

Andrew Marantz, a staff writer, has contributed to The New Yorker since 2011. He has written extensively for the magazine about technology, social media, the alt-right, and the press, as well as about comedy and pop culture. His first book, “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation,” is out now.

October 14, 2019

‘Vile and horrific’: Fake video of Trump massacring media shown at his Miami resort draws backlash

Allyson Chiu | Oct. 14, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) screams as his head is lit on fire. Former president Barack Obama is smashed face-first like a battering ram into what appears to be part of a wooden pulpit. People with their faces replaced by the logos of news organizations such as CNN, NBC, Politico and HuffPost are brutally stabbed and shot.
At the center of the bloody rampage unfolding in the “Church of Fake News” is a man dressed in a dark pinstripe suit. President Trump’s head is superimposed on his body.
The graphic images are from a fake video that was shown during a pro-Trump conference last week at the president’s hotel and golf resort near Miami,  …


Violent spoof video of Trump killing his critics shows how memes have reshaped politics
A perpetual cycle of shock guarantees wider distribution for pro-Trump images

Drew Harwell and Tony Romm  | Oct. 14, 2019

A violent parody aired this weekend at President Trump’s Miami-area golf resort — and the video’s mass sharing afterward — is yet another example of how Trump and the once-fringe movements of online trolls and meme-makers who support him have reshaped mainstream politics and the media. …
… Some pro-Trump supporters wrote online that they were giddy that the violent video had been shared en masse, including by journalists, whose revulsion they have claimed as a badge of honor. Others said they were emboldened by the impact the video had made and would continue pushing the boundaries in future memes. One pro-Trump user early Monday tweeted that the furious reaction to the video “is why the meme was made.”
“These new memes are the 21st century version of political cartoons. Get f---ed you p---ies,” the user AllesErdreich wrote Monday on the pro-Trump Reddit forum The_Donald. The user said the media was seeking to “cry and manipulate … zombies into clutching their pearls at the thought of (nonexistent) fascistic violence towards the free press. They do this because they realize they are losing control to independent content creators on the internet.” …


Meet the Man Behind Trump’s Biden Tweet

By Charlie Warzel | April 6, 2019

A stay-at-home dad in Kansas reveals how the lines have blurred between viral trolling and the business of politics.

The entire event is at once silly, trivial, offensive and, thanks to Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, something we’re now begrudgingly made to pay attention to. The same goes for the video’s creator, a stay-at-home dad in his mid-30s, who goes by the pseudonym “CarpeDonktum.” 
As his handle indicates, the meme creator is purposefully outrageous and yet, seemingly now has an indirect line to the Oval Office. And his elevation — from a Kansas City keyboard warrior to right-wing internet fame as the president’s unofficial meme maker — is a telling example of how the internet has fully blurred the lines between meme posting and business of politics.
“It’s definitely an organic process,” CarpeDonktum told me over the phone shortly after Mr. Trump tweeted his video. “Dan Scavino follows me on Twitter, but there’s no formal relationship there between me and the president. If there’s something I want to make sure [Scavino] sees, I’ll wait for him to post a tweet and try to be the first to reply, linking to what I want to show.” He said that he doesn’t get paid for any of his videos (other than his Patreon crowdfunding account and occasional YouTube ad revenue) and has no relationships to outside politicians.

Back in February, Mr. Trump tweeted out …

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