After three years of fake news, fake polls and fake outrage, Americans trying to keep up with the constant barrage of political drama are 'numb and disoriented,' and people are tuning out according to the New York Times.
In upstate New York, Travis Trudell got an alert on his phone Wednesday morning telling him the impeachment hearings had started. He turned on Disney Plus instead. In Wisconsin, Jerre Corrigan never considered watching. She spent the day giving a math lesson to third graders. In Idaho, Russell Memory worked a busy day as a computer programmer and figured he'd catch up in a few weeks when the hearings were over. -NYT
"It's harder now - they want to grab you with those headlines," said Jerre Corrigan of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. "Trump did this, Trump did that. You have to go in and really research it. And I don't think a lot of people do that."
Meanwhile, the MSM has thoroughly discredited itself after staking their reputation that Trump would surely lose the 2016 election, then promising he'd go down for colluding with Russia, and now - promoting Democrats' impeachment scheme like willing lapdogs without asking critical questions about Joe Biden and his son Hunter that even the Obama State Department raised in 2015.
"I just don't know what to think. You would have to know the facts, and I don't know that I'm getting the facts from the media right now," said Corrigan.
And according to a recent poll cited by the New York Times, 47% of Americans believe it's difficult to identify truthful news.
Just 31 percent find it easy. About 60 percent of Americans say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources, according to the poll, by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and USAFacts.
"Now more than ever, the lines between fact-based reporting and opinionated commentary seem blurred for people," said Evette Alexander, research director at the Knight Foundation, which funds journalism and research. "That means they trust what they are seeing less. They are feeling less informed." -NYT
Travis Trudell, a registered independent mentioned at the top of the story, told the Times he stopped paying attention to national news around a year ago - finding it toxic and mentally taxing, in addition to starting seemingly endless arguments at home. Instead, he focuses on local and state-level politics.
"People can see totally different things, standing right next to each other," said Trudell. "Yes, there are shades of gray, but what about black and white? We assume that everything is a shade of gray now."
Blaming social media and memes
The Times then segues into the impact of "powerful new digital forces buffeting American voters" through deception.
Matt Stanley, a school administrator and registered Democrat in Crum, W.Va., watched as his candidate for Congress in the midterms last year, Richard Ojeda, lost badly. The result, Mr. Stanley believes, was at least partly related to a stream of negative ads on Facebook featuring doctored photographs aimed at discrediting Mr. Ojeda, including one depicting him in makeup and a pink beret.
But the most corrosive part came later, Mr. Stanley said. It was not that people believed wrong things that they saw online, but that they stopped believing right things - or anything at all. That made him afraid for the future. How do you have a society without shared reference points, he said Thursday. -NYT
"The social media, it muddies up stuff so badly," said the 50-year-old Stanley. "There's so much information that's biased, that no one believes anything. There is so much out there and you don't know what to believe, so it's like there is nothing."
Meanwhile, the sheer volume of news is causing information overload and mental fatigue.
"There are certain programs, with their disdain for Trump, it just becomes the Trump-bashing show," said 55-year-old Detroit translator Els Ruijter, a left-leaning independent. "It's like eating French fries. It goes down nicely, but it gives me a little indigestion afterward."
"It's a freaking day job nowadays to keep up with stuff," she added.
"In the political space, you no longer have to have facts to back up your claims," said University of Texas director for the Center for Media Engagement, Talia Stroud. "The result is a population bordering on cynicism, where people discount everything that's opposed to their views."
The degree of alienation is new. In the late 1970s, nearly three quarters of Americans trusted newspapers, radio and television. Walter Cronkite read the news every night, and most Americans went to bed with the same set of facts, even if they had different political views. These days, less than half of Americans have confidence in the media, according to Gallup.
The decline in confidence is particularly pronounced by party. Today about 69 percent of Democrats have a great deal of confidence in the media, compared to just 15 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents, according to Gallup. -NYT
Who could have predicted that years of fake news, failed proclamations, and overt partisanship would cause rational minds to recoil.