First Thought, Best Thought? Not for Elon Musk. - Fix Bdsthanhhoavn

First Thought, Best Thought? Not for Elon Musk.

I have to admit to a fleeting moment of sadness when I clicked on The Hill recently only to discover that the center-right political news site had stopped running comments on all its articles. The Hill didn’t give any reason for the springtime shutdown, merely suggesting that readers head to Twitter or Facebook if they wanted to “participate in the conversation.”

What conversation? I took a daily dose of the The Hill for years and can fairly report that the comments feature was a free-for-all of invective and abuse from all parties during the Trump era—especially after January 6, when an escalation in the rhetoric of maximum denialism delivered with minimal intellectual vigor was the rule. More recently, brief articles of, say, 800 words would be overwhelmed by comments that ran into the thousands—with pages upon pages of deleted comments signaling that so much bitter back-and-forth had led to outright threats, and that the moderators had at last stepped in.

The Hill’s decision to offload comment moderation wasn’t really surprising—you have to pay someone to moderate all that bile and hate—but does highlight how the advent of the online-first media model and social media platforms have bigfooted the print press and engendered a culture of agenda-driven journalism and commentary where “Tweet first, ask questions later” now trumps the old Hearst rule of “Get it first—but get it right!” The fake-news phenomenon that dominated Trump’s term was in plain view in The Hill’s comments section: from Trump to Fox to The Hill, the talking points trickled down like polluted rain, facts be damned.

Still, the comments did offer the rest of us an opportunity to gain insight into the minds of far-right extremists without having to directly engage with them. Any armchair sociologist could take a spin and get some clarity into the great American unraveling. Reading The Hill’s comments was like spending an evening watching Ken-and-Karen public freakouts on YouTube, where catharsis met schadenfreude met rubbernecking. Harmless fun—until the speech is weaponized under the Maoist principle that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun-,” -and a recently radicalized 18-year-old white man goes and kills 10 African Americans in the name of Tucker Carlson’s fact-free “great replacement” theory, complete with livestreaming and an online manifesto.

The Hill’s comment feature made a mockery of the Louis Brandeis free speech maxim about sunshine being the best disinfectant: the belief that the more free speech is out there—however hateful or untruthful it may be—the better the chance the truth will prevail. Brandeis’a theory looks great on paper—and of course Americans should be free to say pretty much whatever they want, short of “I’m going to murder you tomorrow, snowflake”—but, unfortunately for the late Supreme Court justice, the truth never prevails on comment boards. Overwhelmed by facts on The Hill, the MAGA scribes would simply move to the next article to deploy their arsenal all over again: LOL a lot, own the libtards with frequent mentions of “PedoJoe,” driven home by versions of the schoolyard taunt, “I know you are, but what am I.”



Tags: #Thought #Thought #Elon #Musk

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