We face a misinformation crisis. Misinformation is at an all-time high and it’s crippling our democracy, interfering with our ability to talk with each other, to enact needed public policies, and to bridge our bitter partisan divide. And there’s no end in sight. The forces propelling misinformation – power, money, fame, and tribalism – are strong and enduring.
Misinformation is asymmetrical. On nearly every issue, it’s concentrated among those who identify with one or the other political party, most often the Republican Party. The result is that party loyalists are living in different worlds. Their views of reality are so at odds that they might as well be inhabiting different planets. The longstanding notion that we are one nation may not be sustainable.
Eric Alterman is Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. From 1995-2020, he was The Nation’s “Liberal Media” columnist and is now a contributing writer to the magazine and also to The American Prospect, where he writes the weekly “Altercation” newsletter. In the past, he has been a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, the World Policy Institute and The Nation Institute, a columnist for Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Forward, Moment, and the Sunday Express (London) and a contributed to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Le Monde Diplomatique, among other publications. He has also been named a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a Schusterman Foundation Fellow at Brandeis University, a Fellow of the Society of American Historians, and a member of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
Alterman is the national bestseller What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News, as well ten other books, including, most recently, Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie and Why Trump is Worse. Alterman is also a winner of the George Orwell Prize, the Stephen Crane Literary Award, and the Mirror Award for media criticism (twice), He holds a Ph.D. in US history from Stanford, an M.A. in international relations at Yale, and a B.A. from Cornell. He lives in Manhattan. He tweets at @eric_alterman and has an open Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alterman.eric
Tom Patterson is Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of the recently published books, Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself? and How America Lost Its Mind: The Assault on Reason That’s Crippling Our Democracy. Earlier books include Out of Order, which examined the media’s political role and received the American Political Science Association’s Graber Award as the best book of the decade in political communication. A Minnesota native, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, where he studied after serving in the US Army Special Forces in Vietnam.
Robert Y. Shapiro, the moderator, is the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He is currently the President of the Academy of Political Science and Editor of its journal, Political Science Quarterly. He specializes in American politics with research and teaching interests in public opinion, policymaking, political leadership, the mass media, and applications of statistical methods. He is co-author of The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans’ Policy Preferences (with Benjamin Page, University of Chicago Press, 1992) and Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (with Lawrence Jacobs, University of Chicago Press, 2000). His most recent books are The Oxford Handbook of American Public Opinion and the Media(edited with Lawrence R. Jacobs, Oxford University Press, 2011), Selling Fear: Counterterrorism, the Media, and Public Opinion (with Brigitte L. Nacos and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, University of Chicago Press, 2011, and Presidential Selection and Democracy (co-edited with Demetrios James Caraley, Academy of Political Science, 2019).