As televised hearings begin on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, pundits note the former reality television star knows the power of that medium. He also knows the power of Twitter. Other impeached presidents could control legacy media. In this case, not so much.
Richard Nixon had three networks; Bill Clinton, networks, cable and digital infancy; but Donald Trump has networks, cable, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsAp, WeChat, WordPress, Tumblr, Instagram, Zoon, Skype, LinkedIn and 65+ top global platforms to contend with, all sharing, commenting on, and in many cases, lying about the news.
Short of going into hiding with no digital access, everyone will hear a version of the truth, and not necessarily the factual one, including Sen. Lindsey Graham who says he won’t read transcripts or watch televised proceedings.
Too bad. He’ll get mostly tainted if not fake news.
Impeachment news and views will be everywhere, globally, 24/7. That means citizens who only watch Fox News or MSNBC will be informed by other sources via one platform or another. There is no escaping this.
But here’s the rub: Normally, social media outlets discuss a wide range of topics–the day’s news, celebrity gossip, sports, etc.; but what happens when everyone is focused on the same topic: impeachment.
Now political affiliations come into play, and not in a factual way.
The one in five adults who follow Trump on Twitter will hear upsetting or affirming opinions from others migrating across platforms. Conservatives who support the president and rely on radio or cable news will be fending off liberal Democrats who are most apt to use social media to influence and rally others. Very liberal Democrats and very conservative Republicans will continue to spread their views on Facebook, which migrates to Instagram, so relatives and friends will be arguing through Thanksgiving and into the December and January holidays.
The edge in all these debates will go to viewers who watch the televised proceedings without media affiliation or mediation. Those who already made up their minds about whether the President should be impeached will be getting their information second-, third- and fourth-hand (or worse).
So, if you must rely on news sites, these are the most reliable, according to Forbes magazine:
1. The New York Times
2. The Wall Street Journal
3. The Washington Post
5. The Economist
6. The New Yorker
7. Wire Services: The Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News
8. Foreign Affairs
9. The Atlantic
But you don’t need to subscribe or access their websites. In this momentous case, you can watch the proceedings and make up your own mind without all that social media noise.
In issues of this magnitude, it is important to get the facts and to act on them, not only at the dinner table but especially in the voting booth. Listen, analyze and decide without being tainted by the divisive views of social media and media sites that align with political parties.
For more on the power of social media, and how you can mitigate its effects, read Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine.