- - Thursday, February 25, 2021

Personal likes and dislikes give flavor to life, but preferences spiced with disinformation result in unsavory bias. The gulf widened between the major political parties during the 2020 presidential campaign, reinforced by dodgy and divisive notions. (Not to mention the four years preceding it when Donald Trump was relentlessly besieged by disinformation.) A campaign to censor sources of information thought to sharpen oppositional attitudes, though, would be positively un-American.

California Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney issued a letter to media firms this week urging them to drop or censor conservative outlets, including Fox News Channel, Newsmax and One America News Network, for “the spread of disinformation” before and after the Nov. 3 election.

Perhaps not coincidentally, a new Pew Research Center survey points out a tendency among Republican supporters of Donald Trump to believe “misinformation” while characterizing Democrats as less susceptible to false claims. A separate survey, however, demonstrates that liberalism can leave Democrats equally fact-free.

Pew found that around a quarter of both Republicans and Democrats, and those who lean toward the parties, consulted only 2020 election news sources propagating their favored views. While 34% of Republicans and GOP leaners tuned into sources with mixed or left-leaning audiences, a much larger, 48% of their Democratic counterparts tapped mixed or right-leaning content.

Moreover, among Republicans who relied primarily on the Trump camp for election news, 73% said too little attention had been given to voter fraud allegations. Among Republicans who looked elsewhere for news, only 55% agreed that voter fraud had been given short shrift.

Pew surveyors went on to editorialize that Mr. Trump had “falsely claimed that mail-in voting, which became more significant in the 2020 election because of concerns about in-person voting during the pandemic, was unreliable and susceptible to fraud.” The researchers could have made an equally convincing case about the dangers of fakery had they surveyed Democrats loathe to surrender their disproved suspicion that Mr. Trump et al. colluded with Russians. Evidently, not even pollsters are immune to bias.

Americans on the left are equally prone to losing touch with facts, as demonstrated by research conducted by the Skeptic Research Center. A survey completed in October 2020 gauged the accuracy of knowledge about a hot-button issue: racial injustice. Asked whether the number of unarmed black men killed by police in 2019 numbered about 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000 or higher, 22% of liberals believed about 10 were killed, 39% said about 100 was correct and 27% reckoned it was closer to 1,000.

By contrast, 46% of conservatives believed the fatalities numbered around 10, 40% estimated 100 or so, and only 9% guessed around 1,000. Accounting for conflicting databases, the Skeptic center put the actual number between 13 and 27, a small fraction of the count liberals believed correct.

Disinformation is an equal opportunity divider. Censorship, Democrats’ preferred solution, is simply a form of bias. Better to widen rather than stifle the spectrum of information.

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