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The Big Answer


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The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks

a book by Bruce Bartlett

(our site's book review)

Distinguish Fake News from Reliable Journalism with This Clear and Concise Handbook

The Amazon blurb says that Distinguish fake news from reliable journalism with this clear and concise handbook by New York Times best-selling author Bruce Bartlett.

Today’s media and political landscapes are littered with untrustworthy sources and the dangerous concept of “fake news.” This accessible guide helps you fight this deeply troubling trend and ensure that truth is not a permanent casualty. Written by Capitol Hill veteran and author Bruce Bartlett, The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks presents actionable tips and tricks for reading critically, judging sources, using fact-checking sites, avoiding confirmation bias, identifying trustworthy experts, and more.

"What is truth? That ancient question looms large in our era, full of accusations of fake news. Bruce Bartlett's clear and concise guide reveals how to distinguish reliable journalism from reports riddled with errors, lies, and nonsense. Best of all, Bartlett's manual is so accessible and direct that anyone will benefit from reading it, from high school students to casual news consumers to professional journalists."—David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

"Bartlett’s latest book, The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks, is a concise and essential primer filled with information on how best to use and understand the media. It offers techniques and resources that will help anyone who ever wanted to dig deeper into a story or make an educated decision about its accuracy and possible bias."—BillMoyers.com

Bartlett’s accessible guide helps you fight this deeply troubling fake news and alternative facts trend and ensure that truth is not a permanent casualty
Bartlett’s accessible guide helps you fight this deeply troubling fake news and alternative facts trend and ensure that truth is not a permanent casualty

Bruce Bartlett's experience ranges from serving as Senior Policy Analyst in the Reagan administration to holding the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department in the Bush 41 White House. He has also authored a column for Forbes and written for the Economix blog of the New York Times. A New York Times best-selling author, he's published more than 2,100 articles in major national publications.


Donald Trump's Election Happened—Bartlett's Response Is Important Reading for All Who Want to Focus Their Anger in Constructive Action

The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks is a clear, pragmatic guide for dealing with the lies, propaganda, and distractions coming from 2018 Republicans. Don’t just get mad at these losers. Read The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks and think about how to resist the systematic degradation of our country from these sellouts. Bruce Bartlett was shook up by the election of Donald Trump, but his response is important reading for all who want to focus their anger in constructive action. See:

'I had previously seen the Republican glass as half-full, now I saw it as half-empty. These days, it is completely empty.'
'I had previously seen the Republican glass as half-full, now I saw it as half-empty. These days, it is completely empty.'

Bartlett talks about his migration from Republican to Independent: “The simplest way to explain my intellectual and political evolution is that I had previously seen the Republican glass as half-full, now I saw it as half-empty. (These days, it is completely empty.)” (Source: Why I’m Not a Democrat, Bruce Bartlett, BillMoyers.com)


Bill Moyers: Bartlett Is a Man of Fierce Intellectual Independence and Courage

"Bill Moyers noted in late June, Bartlett is “a man of fierce intellectual independence — and courage, too. Telling the truth about Republican economic policies during the George W. Bush presidency got him fired as a senior fellow at a conservative think tank and brought to an end his long career as an esteemed GOP ‘insider.’” . . . [Bartlett:] 'I think it’s sad that Donald Trump, who said he wanted to have a big infrastructure program, has apparently abandoned that in favor of a tax giveaway to the wealthiest people in the United States. . . . the middle class really isn’t going to get any kind of tax cut and in fact it’s going to get screwed in lots of ways. . . . This dictatorship of the idiocracy drove me out of the GOP. I began referring to myself as an independent.'" (Source: GOP Tax Cuts Won’t Pass This Year — Or Maybe Even Next and Bruce Bartlett On Stopping Fake News In Its Tracks, Michael Winship, Huffington Post)

A filter bubble (pictured) is intellectual isolation due to websites displaying only what they think you want to see—the same information isolation is caused by the public's retreat into information silos
A filter bubble (pictured) is intellectual isolation due to websites displaying only what they think you want to see—the same information isolation is caused by the public's retreat into information silos

"The problem today is people live in what are sometimes called silos, where they get all of their information from one point of view. You watch only Fox News. You listen only to conservative talk radio. You read only Breitbart and some of the other conservative websites. Unfortunately, these sites are quite biased. A big part of the bias is simply what they choose not to cover. There are lots of stories that you wouldn’t even know about if you got all your information from those sources. To be sure, you could do the same thing on the progressive side if that’s what you choose to do. But I think that there’s now more ignorance about things that people really should know about." (Source: How Can We Curb Fake News?, Bruce Bartlett, Knowledge.Wharton)

"Bartlett’s advice for media consumers is be wary of secondary information sources. Instead, he said, readers should seek out primary and original documents, speeches and data while avoiding outlets that have weaponized the internet." (Source: MiB: Bruce Bartlett wants you to Stop Believing Fake News, Barry Ritholtz, Ritholtz.com)


How Do You Tell a Hooker from a Politician? That's Easy—Hookers Are Better Looking (and That's the Only Known Difference)

One can conceive of circumstances short of impeachment or indictment of Trump that could cause the Republican rats to start jumping ship
One can conceive of circumstances short of impeachment or indictment of Trump that could cause the Republican rats to start jumping ship

"The question is, when will Republicans conclude that it is in their political interest to oppose Trump? At what point does the political calculation switch from pro-Trump to anti-Trump among Republican politicians? Obviously, there is a chance that the balance will never change. Republicans might conclude that they will either hang together or hang separately and decide to hang together no matter what. Or it could be that the Republican donor class will stick with Trump because the chances of getting what they really want from him — such as deregulation and tax cuts for the rich — are better than with any Democrat. And there might be enough fanatical Trump loyalists at the grass roots to put the fear of God in Republican officeholders who know that their hold on the nomination in a primary is tenuous no matter how easily they won the last general election. Even so, one can conceive of circumstances short of impeachment or indictment that could cause the rats to start jumping ship." (Source: Will Republicans ever stop defending Donald Trump?, Bruce Bartlett, USA Today)

GOP Trumpettes support Trump because he is delivering on tax cuts and deregulation, and we all know Congresspeople represent the Corporatocracy, not the people (like they pretend they are doing); anyway, their morals are for sale, not unlike prostitutes
GOP Trumpettes support Trump because he is delivering on tax cuts and deregulation, and we all know Congresspeople represent the Corporatocracy, not the people (like they pretend they are doing); anyway, their morals are for sale, not unlike prostitutes


Trump's tax cuts for the rich and failure to make good on his 'big infrastructure program' are 'dictatorship of the idiocracy', which drove Bartlett out of the GOP—this isn't conservatism, it's kleptocracy
Trump's tax cuts for the rich and failure to make good on his 'big infrastructure program' are 'dictatorship of the idiocracy', which drove Bartlett out of the GOP—this isn't conservatism, it's kleptocracy

How Did Bartlett Manage to Keep His Integrity in Washington When Others Did Not?

Since Bartlett is that rare Washington insider with integrity, we trust him when he says "I think it’s sad that Donald Trump, who said he wanted to have a big infrastructure program, has apparently abandoned that in favor of a tax giveaway to the wealthiest people in the United States. . . . the middle class really isn’t going to get any kind of tax cut and in fact it’s going to get screwed in lots of ways. . . . This dictatorship of the idiocracy drove me out of the GOP." See The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted.

And all this has a critical relationship to truth and fake news. Trump—with Fox News and the GOP as accomplices—have flushed truth down the crapper. Trump simply says whatever he wants and the GOP looks at the tax cuts he delivered for rich and nearly rich people and they decide to opportunistically take Trump's newest hogwash as Gospel. This is called selling out—it is what happens when people's morals are for sale, not unlike prostitutes. The GOP Trumpettes are lying, pretending to not believe climate change science, pretending that pollution has no effect on the environment, and pretending that they believe the trickle-down Reaganomics ("voodoo economics") they are pedalling will work this time, since this neoliberal nonsense failed in the 1980s and it will fail now—which they all know.

GOP Trumpettes are lying, pretending that they believe the trickle-down Reaganomics ('voodoo economics') they are pedalling will work this time, since this neoliberal nonsense failed in the 1980s and it will fail now—which they all know
GOP Trumpettes are lying, pretending that they believe the trickle-down Reaganomics ('voodoo economics') they are pedalling will work this time, since this neoliberal nonsense failed in the 1980s and it will fail now—which they all know


The GOP Trumpettes are lying, pretending to not believe climate change science and pretending that pollution has no effect on the environment
The GOP Trumpettes are lying, pretending to not believe climate change science and pretending that pollution has no effect on the environment

Fake scientists and well-paid-off scientists are trotted out to give a counterfeit air of legitimacy to their lies and fake science, but it merely compounds the lies from sellout to conspiracy. As Bartlett says, today’s media and political landscapes are littered with untrustworthy sources, so we must begin using fact-checking sites, avoid confirmation bias, and identify trustworthy experts. The right wing borrowed from postmodernism—specifically, the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth—in its attacks on science and facts. The result is an embarrassing blend of voodoo epistemology and bad science.

A lot of GOP campaigns were funded by politians' willingness to pretend to not believe climate change science, making Big Oil their friend for life
A lot of GOP campaigns were funded by politians' willingness to pretend to not believe climate change science, making Big Oil their friend for life

"There are a lot of conservatives who just inherently distrust anything that comes from the mainstream media and are more inclined to believe conspiracy theories and things of this sort. How you change that, I don’t know. But I think part of it is that I think people are simply not aware of it. They consume the news they consume and confirmation bias has an enormous amount to do with this—that is to say, you’re more inclined to believe things that are more congenial to your point of view, whether it’s your religious views or your political views or something else. And, of course, there are a lot of people who simply don’t consume the news at all! Where they get it from is a mystery to me. It’s a mystery to me where the president of the United States gets information from [Fox News, Breitbart, and Sean Hannity, and Trump admits it] . . . . I think there’s more of an attitude on the right that the ends justify the means. I think conservatives more so than liberals have a view that it’s not just right versus left it’s right versus wrong, it’s good versus evil. A lot of conservatives have that point of view. Therefore, anything goes. I mean, if it’s God versus Satan, you should use whatever weapons you have available" (Source: Republican Apostate, Dave Denison, the Baffler)

Bartlett: I use my library all the time
Bartlett: I use my library all the time

"Bartlett: After the election, I was rather dismayed by the results and I thought about why it was that so many of my fellow Americans voted for the most incompetent person who’s ever run for president, let alone been elected president. And I believed then and believe still today that the media had a great deal to do with this. Clearly, we have a broken media in a lot of different ways. . . . I use [my library] all the time. One of the things that I discuss in the book is how to gain access to academic-quality publications that have been peer reviewed and are written by experts in the field. And this is another thing that you can get on library websites." (Source: Bruce Bartlett on Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks, Michael Winship, billmoyers.com)

Trump lies to assert power—it is a classic demagogue strategy. In this, he has learned the lesson of countless dictators and strongmen across the ages, a lesson that could be well taught by his opposite number in Russia, Vladimir Putin.

Okay Vladi, you old dog, I lead or you bleed—got it? Okay Donny, whatever, dude! (Jeez—he's so bossy!)
Okay Vladi, you old dog, I lead or you bleed—got it? Okay Donny, whatever, dude! (Jeez—he's so bossy!)


Trump insists that you respect his authoritah!
Trump insists that you respect his authoritah!


Trump lies to assert power—only a demagogue would say 2+2=5, which in Orwell's 1984 is one of the false slogans promoted by the Party—to assert power. Trump does this 2+2=5 stuff with obviously fake inaugeration crowd size estimates
Trump lies to assert power—only a demagogue would say 2+2=5, which in Orwell's 1984 is one of the false slogans promoted by the Party—to assert power. Trump does this 2+2=5 stuff with obviously fake inaugeration crowd size estimates

The Many Views of Fake News

See: