Letter to the Editor

Consider the source

Thursday, June 24, 2021

I was recently thinking about family and friends with far-right ideologies, and a pleasant conversation sans politics with a MAGA hat wearing stranger about his serious health threat when hospitalized with COVID-19. This was in light of the defense claims of many of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists charged with felonies that they were brainwashed. This played into personal research I’ve been doing for some time to understand what creates far-right viewpoints. This is not about moderate conservatism. It’s about the far right from John Birch Society to the Tea Party to Q.

Following are two helpful sources I recently became aware of.

Ad Fontes Media Inc. is a Colorado-based media watchdog organization primarily known for its Media Bias Chart, which rates media sources in terms of political bias and reliability. Founded in 2014 with the goal of combating political polarization, it uses a panel of analysts across the political spectrum to evaluate articles for the chart.

A 2015 American documentary film, “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” directed by Jen Senko, is about her father's transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. This can be viewed free online and documents the history of radio and TV media planned manipulation to influence society.

Fox News was one of my many news sources until July 2003. I remember exactly when I made the decision to not watch it anymore. Fox News reported that the Clintons were denied reimbursement from the government for Whitewater investigation legal fees. Period. End of news story. I then switched to NBC where it was reported with context that a president is entitled to reimbursement for attorney’s fees and expenses incurred during investigations while in office. NBC also reported that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush both were reimbursed for legal fees from the Iran-Contra investigation.

The Clintons were never prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of three others related to the land deal.

While Reagan famously said, “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not,” he and Bush were never prosecuted either, though 11 convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned based on advice of former AG Bill Barr in the final days of the Bush presidency, who had been vice president at the time of the affair.

I still occasionally try to check out Fox News on TV or the internet to contrast and compare. It’s only gotten worse as they try to outdo challengers News Max and OAN. There are numerous fact checking websites including PolitiFact, FactCheck and Snopes. Used to be we only had to use Snopes to tell us not to send money to a Nigerian Prince. Now it’s life and death matters. At least one source dangerous to society and the country has been mostly silenced. Remember the adage to “consider the source.”

— D. Smith, Spencer