News media is a commodity that’s more available to us now than it’s been during any other time in history. Cable news networks pump out content around the clock, and minute-to-minute updates on breaking stories can be accessed from our pockets with the tap of a finger.
I agree that the current state of informed decision making by the public at large is very low. In the long run better civics and critical thinking education at earlier ages may help.
I do believe that media companies exploit and accelerate rather than mirror the amount of disinformation in the current environment. Heavy regulation is not in order but perhaps eliminating the safe harbor for inaccurate information for social media companies along with breaking up some of the larger media companies may be helpful, especially the firms that have bought up huge numbers of local media outlets eliminating more varied, regional political voices.
"Better civics and critical thinking education at earlier ages" would be wonderful, but would it be possible? Where would we find good thinkers to teach it? Who would decide which thoughts were good? Same for civics. If Plato came back to review the current state of affairs, he might suggest that we require everyone to have read PPE at Oxbridge before being granted the franchise, or the right to seek office. Or he might just shudder and return wordlessly to Elysium.
I agree with Simon Lubershane that we have the media the market supports and that regulating the media in some new way will not make people less credulous or more rational. At best, it might improve the general quality of information that credulous, semi-rational persons receive, but I think that's a long shot. Regulators are likely to do more harm than good.
That said, perhaps the Court could revisit Sullivan and address the materiality of whatever false statements are made to the damage allegedly done to the reputation of the defendant. (Should it matter whether MLK had been arrested in Montgomery 4 times rather than 7?) And perhaps the Court could address the real difference between being libeled by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Facebook, et al. on one hand and by some lonely writer on Substack on the other.
Meanwhile, skepticism must be the First Amendment version of the Second.
Your buddy,P.T. Barnum, captured the perennial essence of American society when he famously uttered,"There's one born every minute." Your lamentations about the encroachment of avaricious and ethically challenged BIG CORPORATIONS on media channels are misplaced.Such purported villainy exists because a large segment of our population is comprised of gullible and downright stupid people .Therefore,as is natural and normal in our market-based society,the wants and needs of this demographic are catered to by profit-seeking entities.
The question arises,"Is this an innate and immutable condition of a substantial part of human populations?"Unfortunately,I believe, the answer is YES,rendering erstwhile reforms only superficially helpful.Your thoughts?