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Misinformation and the Media

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

On Monday, October 09, at the East Rec Center, the Oakmont Progressives will screen the video “Trustworthy”, with a social starting at 6:30 and the film at 7 PM. The documentary explores how misinformation on all sides has fueled the country’s growing polarization, and how we can hear all voices and find common ground.


One of the saddest things I’ve seen was a video made by Edgar Welch, a 28 year old father of two from North Carolina, as he drove to Washington D.C. He had read a “news” story on the internet that the Comet Ping Pong Pizza Parlor in DC was the headquarters of a satanic child sex abuse ring involving Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats. When hs got to DC, he went into the restaurant with an AR 15 rifle and a pistol strapped to his hip, terrorized the customers and employees, and shot the lock of a closet thinking it was the entry to the basement sex den. The video is a message to his daughters, explaining why he feels he needs to risk his life because “I can’t let you growing up in a world that’s so corrupt by evil”. “We have,” he said, “a duty to protect people who can’t protect themselves, to do for people who can’t do for themselves.” He ends, with a tone of genuine sadness, by telling them that he hopes they understand what he was trying to do, and that he loves them. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhRo_jFKf9M.


The restaurant, of course, had no basement and no child sex ring. But Mr. Welch clearly believed what he had read from sources he trusted on the internet and felt called upon to act on motives that he saw as noble. After his trial, he told the court that he was "truly sorry for endangering the safety of any and all bystanders who were present that day." He claimed that he "came to D.C. with the intent of helping people."


We live in a country that is amazingly polarized, with people on the right believing that our democracy is threatened by socialists on the Left, and people on the Left believing that our democracy is threatened by autocrats on the Right. We are deluged by information from all sides, and we tend to listen to only that which confirms what we already believe. What truly threatens our democracy is the lack of trust, the lack of common facts and understandings that could form the basis of genuine discussion and negotiation.


Trustworthy is a documentary that chronicles a 5,300-mile journey across America to explore how the growing crisis of trust in media threatens our democracy, and whether we can find common ground. From small towns to urban enclaves, the film makers speak with journalists, experts and everyday Americans across the political spectrum about how we got to this critical moment, how we can become better news and information consumers, and how we can come together to rise above the misinformation and discourse aimed at dividing our communities.


From the producers:


From small towns to urban enclaves, we speak with journalists, experts and everyday Americans across the political spectrum about how we got to this critical moment, how we can become better news and information consumers, and how we can come together to rise above the misinformation and discourse aimed at dividing our communities.


Trustworthy is our gift to democracy. Through screening events and watch parties, the film provides a forum for people to listen, learn, discuss and inspire action to preserve our democracy.


This documentary is a must-see for everyone who seeks to better understand our media and help bridge the political divide.

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