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Adriana E. Ramírez is a columnist and InReview editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sometimes, we have to eat our vegetables, no matter how tempting a — most likely diabetic and definitely scurvy-inducing — lifetime of bonbons might be.
I know this first hand. Well, not the scurvy part. For both my pregnancies, I suffered from gestational diabetes, a wild condition where my body temporarily had high blood sugar as long as I was pregnant. I was lucky enough that I could manage it with dietary changes.
I knew that no matter what pregnancy cravings I had, my needs would always outweigh my desires. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have the rare bite of ice cream, but I mostly stuck to my nutrition plan and my kids were both born healthier because of it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about want versus need. My kids are toddlers now, and they want so much. All the time. They want everything at Target, and most definitely do not need everything at Target (where would we put all those bicycles?). It’s my job, as a parent, to temper their wants, to steer them in the right direction, toward their needs, however distasteful they may be (see: spinach, “it’s too green, mama.”).
As the Dominion Voting Systems’ case against Fox News has revealed, in perpetuating the “big lie” that Trump won the 2020 election, Fox News tried to give its viewers what they wanted — not what they needed — all bonbons and no spinach. The result has been a year of great ratings for them, but at what cost to the rest of us?
Dominion is putting a number on the cost to them, and it’s in the billions. The cost to America in the divisions that lying caused — divisions that won’t be healed any time soon — is incalculable.
Even so, most Republicans are fine with the lie. They either believe it or choose to not disbelieve it, and no lawsuit or depositions from Fox News personalities will change their minds. Tucker Carlson confessing live on air would not convince a single one of them that Biden legitimately won the election.
There’s science for this. A June 2022 study by Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business revealed that most people find their own politician’s lies more acceptable than the other side’s. Even when those lies defy gravity, reality and all available logic.
The CMU study begins with a terrifying statement: “Society recognizes that many politicians lie.” It’s such an obvious statement that it’s easy to bypass the horror it contains. The study also reveals some people think a politician’s ability to lie is a positive. No wonder things have gotten so bad.
But still, it’s not exactly a bipartisan difference. There’s an interesting dialectic between the right’s call for personal freedoms and their desire to constrain the freedoms of others. It’s paralleled by another tension in their search for truth, between their making the most falsehoods reported by the media and calling to hold the media more accountable for those falsehoods.
In Florida, the GOP is pushing a bill that would essentially challenge the Supreme Court’s New York Times v. Sullivan case, which established the standards under which someone can sue a publication for libel. The bill would make it easier for public figures to go after the media for any falsehoods.
They’d have to start with their own if they really wanted to make a difference. In 2013, before the Trump administration and the rise of One America and other conservative outlets, a study by George Mason University demonstrated that Republican-skewing media lied three times more than liberal-leaning media. One can only imagine the ratio today.
If the Florida GOP’s plan goes into effect, I assume the most affected organizations will be exactly the conservative-leaning media outlets who spread the “big lie.”
I firmly believe that Sullivan should not be overturned. I also think that it’s time that the news media be held accountable by its own. So I cheer Florida Republicans on in their desire to keep the news honest. They should look into those that bear the responsibility for spreading the most lies and defamations. They should begin with Fox News.
Why are the same people obsessed with indoctrination not realizing that they’re raising their children to believe in an alternative version of reality based on a lie? Why are people who claim to believe in a good diet feeding their children bonbons? It’s time for Republicans to eat their veggies.