WATCH: This Is How You Debunk Right-Wing Lies
NBC’s Chuck Todd enraged liberals last week with the following comment:
“What I always love is when people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No! It’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”
Many on the left — including tens of thousands of people who have signed an online petition asking NBC to reject Todd’s comment — believe that this is the problem in modern politics: Too many members of the media refuse to debunk lies.
The truth is that even when they try, they’re pretty bad at it. See PolitiFact.
The message discipline of the right-wing media — also known as “The Fox Effect” — gives Republicans a platform to do things like call the stimulus “the failed stimulus” before it ever goes into effect. But what’s equally powerful is the hundreds of millions of dollars right-wing groups have spent opposing the president’s agenda.
For instance, opponents of Obamacare have outspent proponents 5 to 1 since the law was passed in 2010.
Could the media successfully debunk an overload of misinformation like that, even if Chuck Todd wanted to? Not likely.
NextGen Climate Action has decided to circumvent the media the same way the right has, with ads that speak directly to voters. The anti-Keystone Pipeline campaign ad above doesn’t just debunk right-wing lies — like the suggestion that the pipeline would be a huge boon for the economy — it puts forth a competing narrative that contrasts the thousands of jobs clean energy is creating with the 35 permanent jobs the pipeline would create for Americans maintaining a foreign pipeline.
Unfortunately, to run this kind of campaign you need millions of dollars and billionaire benefactors. The right has both.
Billionaire investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer is the founder of NextGen Climate Action. He’s taken Warren Buffett’s pledge to give away at least half his wealth and in the meantime has quit his job to work full-time to make actual progress against climate change possible.
Relying on billionaires to advance the truth probably feels as hopeless as relying on Chuck Todd. But in a connected world, we all have the power to share the information we find to be valuable. And Steyer’s efforts are already making this a little easier.