The sudden spread of the “California secessionism” bubble shows how the Internet has weakened our political discourse for the worse. First, if a multi-millionaire had wanted to announce that he was funding a referendum in 1995, he would have had to have called a press conference. (He would likely have had to do that as late as 2005.) Calling a press conference is not hard, of course, but it meant that nobody besides his drinking buddies would have seized upon an offhand remark.
Calling a press conference isn’t hard, of course. But the need to do so meant that stupid ideas from rich people that wouldn’t survive the cold light of day couldn’t get out to the press. Now, though, it goes out to millions of potential viewers, and just as importantly (still!) the press.
The tweets that started the brouhaha are now down, I should add.
Second, the Russian press could have covered a fringe secession movement as much as it wanted, but the American press would never have picked up the story. Any Russian stories would have been noted as dubious and ignored.
Poof, a non-story.
Now, this particularly story is not all that important. But it seems to me that it points out a worrying weakness in our national anti-bullshit immune system. Is there a corresponding gain or a way to combat the vulnerability?