Digital Civil War review: a stark call to save American democracy
Peter Daou blames media and the political establishment for failing to combat dishonesty, hypocrisy … and Trump
Voltaire warned that “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”. In his new book, Peter Daou offers copious evidence that nothing has ever made that pernicious alchemy easier than the internet.
“Technology,” he writes, “has altered … the field of battle … The unrelenting toxicity of social media is a feature, not a bug, of digital warfare.” He also offers an important corollary: “Nothing in American life is more of a threat to our democracy than the Republican party’s lurch to the far right.”
Daou says he writes not as an historian but as “an eyewitness”. He has been a digital strategist for two Democratic presidential candidates – John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008 – but he thinks his earlier history is what makes him the perfect analyst for this conflict: he came of age as a Christian in Lebanon at the height of its own civil war.
Norman Ornstein was one the first Washington pundits to identify the big problem with the way the mainstream press deals with a sharply altered political universe, writing in 2014: “Insisting on equivalence as the mantra of mainstream journalism leaves the average voter at sea, unable to identify and vote against those perpetrating the problem. The public is left with a deeper disdain for all politics and all politicians.”
Daou strongly agrees. The “mainstream media and the political establishment”, he writes, have failed to “serve as a counterbalance to the dishonesty and hypocrisy poisoning American politics”. Or as progressive analyst Zerlina Maxwell put it, “there will be literal Nazis marching in the streets before the [mainstream media] realizes that calling for civility from both sides is stupid. Wait. Too late.”
Of course, there already were Nazis in the streets of Charlottesville two years ago, when marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us”.
_________________________ Trump asked if he could pardon himself!