Misinformation, echo chambers and how it protects radical political ideologies

Do Foothill students trust the news?

People’s confidence within News outlets has been on the decline for the past 4 decades. And it’s not hard to see why with the prevalence of biased news and the blatant attempts at misinformation. People are retreating into echo chambers that represent their views and are becoming increasingly skeptical of information put out by the media.

The democratic process requires an informed populace, a populace that can see arguments from all corners of the political compass. Citizens who swear blind loyalty to their respective echo chamber are left vulnerable to political entities that wish to manipulate for their own personal gain.

How people began to distrust the news.

In 1987 the FCC decided to repeal the “Fairness Doctrine”, which required news sources to present contrasting viewpoints on issues, which would mark the start of this trend.

Data from Gallop Inc.

Newsrooms began to only show one side of an issue, leaving their depiction unchallenged, and making it easier to slip in bias. Competition from social media, a platform plagued with sensationalism and misinformation, only made things worse. These factors encourage news outlets to disregard the “truth” and include bias to make a more entertaining product. People began to recognize this as shown in the data collected by Gallop Inc.

Consequently, echo chambers have formed, where viewers who received one-sided and biased information from one news source would become suspicious when hearing conflicting information from another. When no opposing views are displayed to news consumers, viewers, or readers, those who subscribe to one source of media only have one reasonable world view to adopt.

Echo chambers are vulnerable to domination and blatant acts of misinformation.

Trump’s claims of ‘fake news’ strike so well with republicans since many news articles leaned left with a left bias to coincide. Many mainstream news outlets lean left while there are very few leaning right. Consequently, right viewership has become centralized within Fox, the most popular news organization overall with an average of 2.3 million primetime viewers. Fox’s lack of competition within the right allows them to make ‘fake news’ of their own.


In the filings for the dominion case against Fox, Tucker Carlson acknowledged the lack of evidence of rigged elections, saying that it was “shockingly reckless”. “If there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it” — “as you know there isn’t”. Carlson, however, would continue to spread doubt about the elections, eroding democracy. Just last month, Tucker Carlson of Fox tried to convince his own viewers into thinking that the Jan 6 capitol riots was just a tour.

Who would challenge Fox? Like many outlets, Fox rarely brings anyone on air that provides counterarguments. Due to the nature of echo chambers, any outlet on the left who challenged their claims would be labeled as leftist ‘fake news’ and unable to reach Fox News’ target audience. Although this is most likely done for sensationalism, politicians can spread lies and manipulate the public as seen with Trump’s claims of rigged elections.

Radical ideologies can fly under the radar.

Echo chambers have also encouraged a two-way thinking politically, reminiscent of the lead-up to WW2. Written in 1936 the article Mr. Dennis and His “American” Fascism, shows Lawrence Dennis’ argument for a fascist America, “But if we are not to have a Communist America, so the reasoning runs, we must have a Fascist America,” summed up by R.L. Duffus.

The echo chambers scream “Democrats are socialists” for wanting social services and that “Republicans are fascists” for exhibiting nationalism. Both statements, after losing all meaning from repeated far-reaching accusations from both sides, cast a benefit of the doubt upon individuals who truly exhibit these political ideologies, such as Trump.

Trump’s claims being uncontested within the political bubbles he dominates would come at the detriment of minorities. When addressing the issue of unemployment, he pointed the finger at Mexicans for stealing jobs, instead of the government entities tasked with preventing such issues. The association of ethnic groups with current issues was repeated during the pandemic, when Trump repeatedly called COVID-19 a “chinese virus.” The association of Chinese people with a world-wide pandemic, consequently, elicits Asian hate. Blaming the country’s problems on ethnic groups incites prejudice and has been used throughout history by political parties to rally the country and garner support.

Henry A. Wallace – In a 1944 New York Times article titled Wallace Defines ‘American Fascism’ – hypothesized how an American fascist would rise to power, pointing out how “The American Fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a Fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the Fascist and his group more money and power.” During this time, Fascism was in the minds of the public and people were worried of a potential emergence of this ideology within America. The prospect of fascism coming to America has since fallen out of the public consciousness, despite being more relevant than ever.