Post-truth understanding is an oxymoron.
July 14, 2012 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I have been seeing several references lately to "post-truth" campaigns/politics lately, but I am not sure exactly what the definition is. I can infer what is implied, but want material that explains what it is. Example

Can anyone point out articles that explain the concept, or where it first originated? I saw a few references to it in the latest political thread, too, and I want to make sure I understand. One example from the Romney thread, and another.
posted by annsunny to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The book that explains it all is The Post-Truth Era.

The short version is we all lie so much, sometimes for no apparent reason, that lying is no longer a big deal or even seen as a negative. The post-truth campaign would be one that knowingly tells lies, a lot of them, knowing they'd never be called on it or suffer no (or few) negative consequences for doing so.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2012

Here's a column from April 2010 that breaks down why post-truth politics works in our system. I can't say for certain whether this is the genesis of the concept. It seems to have gained wider exposure in this Krugman column from December 2011.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

See also: Michael Cohen for the Graun, who notes that because serial mendacity gets reported verbatim, because that's what American political journalism feels obliged to do, it embeds itself in the narrative: it's a fact that these things were said, and any (meagre) attempts to identify whether the things said were factual is very much secondary.

It can perhaps be considered a continuation of the famous "reality-based community" line quoted by Ron Suskind.
posted by holgate at 5:07 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the quick answers! I will look at these, and any others posted.

I try to keep myself educated politically, or as much as a I can stomach, but there is always so much more I don't know.
posted by annsunny at 6:26 PM on July 14, 2012

Just to elaborate more, American journalists by and large do not (necessarily) report The Truth in its objective form. What they report is what each side said in the interests of equanimity and avoiding bias accusations.

To pick a neutral example, if Mitt Romney said he really enjoyed chocolate ice cream and by god he could go for some right now. And Democrats said Mitt Romney does NOT enjoy chocolate ice cream and, in fact, has never even been seen in an ice cream parlor.

The press story would be something like, "Romney claims to have a taste for chocolate ice cream, but Democrats say Mitt Romney has never even seen the inside of an ice cream parlor."

And then reactions and headlines and snipes and countersnipes would revolve around this, with the press dutifully reporting every word and arguing about what it all meant and was it a handout to Big Ice Cream and Big Chocolate and so on.

What would usually NOT happen is someone investigating whether the claims were actually, factually true.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Krugman has an even better example in which if Bush said that the Earth was flat, the media headline would be "Shape of Earth -- Views Differ."

His point is that journalists have been so roughed up by Republican claims of bias that they are intimidated from telling the most basic truths. Instead, they present both sides of an argument as if equally valid, despite the objective truth or falsity of one or the other.

If you google the phrase "working the refs" you will find dozens of articles describing the way conservatives have successfully used a decades long campaign of bullying the media referees to bend coverage to their advantage. The phrase originally comes from basketball where coaches will loudly and repeatedly protest calls that go against them trying to wear the referees down to get a more favorable bias.
posted by JackFlash at 11:55 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You are all the best. Thank you!
posted by annsunny at 2:57 PM on July 15, 2012

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