In an era when there is a concerted effort to confuse the citizens of our nation about what is fact and what is fiction there is another troubling storm on the horizon.
Trump has turned up the rhetoric on criticism by not just reasoned rebuttals but by declaring every bit of media reporting that doesn’t glorify him as “fake news”. As Leslie Stahl reported last year this is deliberate.
“He said you know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”
We already know about the agenda of “alternative facts”.
Ok, so this is bad enough.
Now the altered video technology is truly disturbing. For now experts can identify the fakes, but only with time and effort. Even so the damage can done long before corrections, explanations and rebuttals.
So why is this a threat to democracy?
The founders put the postal service into the Constitution because they knew that an informed citizenry is a key component of a workable Republic based on elected representatives and presidents. And that has not changed.
And here we are in an era of almost universal access to information on a scale not imagined centuries ago. We should be the most well informed electorate ever. Even if there are sources that are biased, within a few clicks anyone can fact check or research the veracity of any story.
Videos are a big part of this. Witness the immense success of YouTube. Plus we are inclined to believe what we see and hear with our own eyes.
I think we have a big problem on our hands.
I hope that technology can protect videos from undisclosed editing perhaps by embedded codes that reveal or prevent it.