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tv   Elizabeth Williamson Sandy Hook - An American Tragedy and the Battle for...  CSPAN  April 18, 2022 5:33pm-6:32pm EDT

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summa christopher leonard this week's episode of book notes plus, it is available this is been now or wherever you get your podcast. >> weekends on "c-span2" are an intellectual feast, every saturday, and history tv documents america stories, and sunday summa book of book tv brings you the latest nonfiction books and authors and funding for "c-span2", comes from these television companies and more, including cox. >> cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet, through the connection completed programs, digital divide one connection and engagement at a time, cox, bringing us closer along with these companies, support "c-span2", is a public service. >> tonight a very excited to
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welcome elizabethg will and celebrating "sandy hook - an american tragedy and the battle for truth" and this is the work the main investigation of the tragedy thatdy follows tragedy s people who dubbed themselves cruisers but in reality they don't know it's the truth in these events that have actually occurred and for the pain by those who have already experienced too much and also examines conspiracy to raise it is information and people promote the such things and of his space inn our country, have truth to reject the facts in the white supremacy in covid-19 masking the vaccinations and the validity of our elections and williamson is a future writer and a former editorial board member from the new york times and she is previously written it for the washington post andwi wall street journal pretty and will be joined in conversation tonight with others
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and please join me, here welcoming elizabeth williamson. [applause] [applause] >> i like that youav have to do the work just that you know that's my favorite part of this introduction so elizabeth and i have been talking a lot of the years about this topic, the topic is been sort of i wouldn't near and dear to my heart but i would say i'm especially troubled of what's been happening with online social media prettily and how is sort of congested a weapon eyes dadan amplified hate. and obviously one of the first instances of this and something i know very well with sandy hook as a couple instances of it all enough today and i was injured and interviewing kathy griffin who got investigated was put onn the no-fly list etc. and then became subject to death threats i am tonyy better stories not as funny she has had to so you see
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it iterating and little places many years ago and sending a was probably the most reprehensible and although given january 6, that's and competition in terms of how much the society and when we to each other has changed so dramatically including with conspiracy theories running wild and becoming part of the politics including everywhere whether selection a ranch i vaccinations or ukraine right now, you're saying a lot in ukraine with the russians right now in thehe fire weapons or whatever, is one lie after another predict but anyway this book is amazing is depressing but is also very clear what we have to do about it and i'm excited to talk about this i'm going to read quickly i think the key line, that i think it's important and i would like to start from there elizabeth.
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>> ideology or profit for no sound reason at all, conspiracy theories would use technology tu create a us to unite the world to a hunton attack vulnerable people and 70 manyim times as ws eddie hook was the first mass tragedy online circle of people in permeable and hostile to reality as messengers with the mainstream media law enforcement or emily's of the dead for home the chairman by deniers as leading to the pain and the decades sitting hook stands as an important morning of the power of the unquenchable viral vibe, the fireballs of decency to engulf the accepted facts establish science and a life the foundations of our democratic institutions in this book tells the truth and how it happened so let's start with that prayed that i want to talk about this when we on twitter and talk about and in want get into what happened and focus on how shows another's and talk aboutut the bigger picture for people here in terms of why this was as you
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said the canary in the coal mine. so talk a little bit about that. >> sure so he was sandy hook a dad whose sont noah was the youngest sending okay victim and then he had the technical and was interested in computersus wn computer industry was in the infancy and he really knew how the algorithms prevailed of the lies to social media platforms. and feed them too millions of people so is only told me, this is not a one-off that was maybe spurred byby sandy hook bay watershed moment and the gun control battle for example. but this really was a foundationalou story of how misinformation moves and how people were willing like a group of people willing to just deny accepted truths and facts and
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science so it moves from pizza gate to coronavirus to january 6. there we were the steps in the capitol andnd i remember in january 22 he went i was trying to finish the last couple of chapters and think amp requesting a little bit here but i just want to see what's going on at the capitol as i turn on cnn andal people work scaling of all of the i-uppercase-letter was thinking, but i guess this would be the last chapter of the bookam because it was exactly te same and delivery message often the same characters and people who are spreading these lies. >> to talk a little bit about how it started, how it began because that was quite an interview and an interesting and readable nothing to sort he himself was interested in conspiracy theories when it was over someone he illuminates very son' yes the da vinci code, this is not a new thing, is been
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around since the beginning of time essentially. >> one of the interesting things that i learned was that america has always been against y versus nation and when the historians and he spoke with kevin olmstead from uc davis was saying that nations immigrants and define ourselves and create our own identity by identifying others and then means demonizing the other braided and so that was something that sort of drove people this was a little different, was just keeping a check onl governmental are sayig bad well government does lie pretty this was never trusting the government and alwayss distrusting the official narrative and always sing that narrative is being denied. >> so there's been plenty of things that the government test out of the course of the years, lying about various things and there's dozens and dozens of
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examples so when evan here was it began wellat before this, ist any reagan administration don't trust government, where today have its beginnings this conceptual idea. >> and ellen jones grabbed onto whatever conspiracy theories among them and generally six for sure but the initially got started on sandy hook. >> yes has his roots in the early 90s and so he was always distrustful of government sort of identified with the sort of white christian nationalist and moment west after the branch davidian compound, in waco he rebuilt the davidian church anyways $93000 for that effort in a group of volunteers and so he had strong ties to the world which almost by definition was distrustful of guardsmen and keep out of her business and he appealed to them that he was a
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celebrity among the crowd know kind of his core audience. >> and wanted to get that way from your perspective. >> is hard to know in a really struggled with trying to define who is alex jones like everybody knows who he is correct. >> which was not the case actually by like seven years ago people didn't know this entire room would be like lighter known them coming up empty. >> is hard to know exactly that he is conspiracy by nature and one of his employees told me, it doesn't really matter if he believes what he says, and matters that is listeners do part of them are millions of them and they were willing to defend those beliefs violence news operating on the fringes of mediaa time i remember interviewing times complete struck by it but oddly enough had refereed at one of my early
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cosponsor so i was noticing that the right-winger was doingin rather well online is because they hadad to been zeroed out of other media so you're the county very fertile ground to get their information radio is another area, in which was jones. in the alternative media was what they were looking for in some fashion to get the word out and kind of undercover because nobody inessential initially. >> he called it, i like to listen to alex jones when going between clients because he represented the other side of information but that was before alex jones got into his darkness. >> so it wouldn't be like about this silliness and wealth to him it was an intellectual exercise, if we looked at you know what the government said about the moon landing the conspiracy theorist saying we can just cut to figure out how is the sausage made and how did they figure out
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like what is the basis for that out. these photographs, this was his steps and he thought it was fun just kind of look at those things. >> we didn't think it was toxic. >> no, because of this i'm alex jones are all of his associations a, he definitely was a different person. is a lot less toxic and dark as he was around 2012. >> so it shifted most things to a began angle because i think one of the things is the idea of calling fake news, fake it propaganda is really what you talking about is it or not in the lies is another way of putting it. [laughter] but some have purposely done that for propaganda purposes and sometimes propaganda meaning, to driving agenda and he can be negative necessarily, a lot of like belinsky sink right now is to sell the underdog, he's in fact in underdog.
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there's a lot of bells and whistles like a long with that and i the idea was this guy was doing the stuff sort of living along the edges i needed somethingse to take himself up words so explain how that happened as of this tragedy cabinet in unimaginable. and talk about how it unfolded. >> sure, so the whole incident and so why this one we talk about the shooting and why this one got this kind of attention. >> so obviously, as everyone in this room knows, and can probably remember where you are is happening, it was not just unimaginablela crime that 20, first-graders hiding in their classrooms in the six women it tried to protect them initially, even the parents themselves
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could not understand and the peoplepl around them and they td me about how they would wake up even today, and say, was a nightmare, you know and realize no it's my life and so i think there were a number of people who congregated online especially moms who had children around that age and they just could not believe event and they would sure thek sandy hook grou, wheneo facebook was one of the biggest denier groups and there were hundreds on their together at night they would talk all night long. they would show upno and usually after work, command and alton and just exchange their days we talked about this you know the
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earliest facebook groups were many groups that people aol's nessentially. >> exactly and tell a story about when i met him for the first time he made me go meet his quilting group that had it been many wealth for aol mine is lovely, they were lovely people and brought them all to aol and give them cookies and it was lovely but then it turned very quickly. that's the idea that communities of people come together online and it was very active among gay people for example who cannot get together this is renowned of coursein - and so it was really problematic but is a great way to solve the problem of like-minded people with like minded interest. >> yes bolstering each other up and it was a sameness the erie thing, because it really was the sameim kind impulse online, and
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the seat you know, have a piece to the quote. were the police helicopters and why were the victims transferred by ambulance instead of by a helicopter and have that happen and why did porta potty show up at the scene and did someone plan and advancement over the police doing and who was in the woods and everybodyf contributed some little piece of this crazy quilt that these sandy hook hoax facebook people were building this kind of like the quality conspiracy blob likeac every ne- >> it was like a party. >> yes like his ring crime and like the golden state killer and there's all kinds of stuff around the police work that actually ends up there. >> i want true crime groups of the time in fact some of those morphed into the sandy hook group and it was just kinda building this whole body of conspiracy for some of these young moms showed up on their
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they would just thought well you know, i'm here for anybody who can tell me that somehow, this did not happen and they were worried about their own children. >> well, for my ptsd, these particular individuals and you know i think we all face a little bit of that. that was one part of the group and they fell away pretty quickly, they were pretty easily convince when one night, to try to present the record in the birth certificate in his postmortem exams and school record incentive say locally, here i am a member using my powers a grieving father and going answer your questions i'm going to givete you this information you can examine it and i'm happyio to answer any questions that you have and a lot of these younger moms, they were convinced inim fact they started to dm him and kind of join him in several group. within that left the sort of
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group of really hard-core conspiracy. >> and they were egged on a by alex jones so he got hold of this and what happened. >> and so those individuals became alex jones content providers and so they were the people who were showing up, two dozen times and saying how they were people who were following the families around or endless public records request try to get grisly details of the crime and photos and whatnot and publish them and they were people who just were harassing the families to know in both online and increasingly a person. >> we would chew up because they would say they would prove it is of this were a detective novel. >> and the other thing is like you have people just like the aol think like this because he grew, building each other up as parting each other and exchanging information these people would normally be isolated, they were the persons
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who would hand you a zero exchange have a series on the subway or you know your great uncle who would meet you at the family reunion but now they found each other for the magic of social media they all found each other and exchange their theories they created this very tight net social bond on themselves and so anybody was there, to say, no actually, this is the, truth know if this is what happened, no here are my documents whether they were first responder or another participant they were parents, theyey were villains and they we threats. and they would break what they were doing and it was entertaining it just. >> it is a form of psyche him, that they had never gotten before also income income. >> start about the money that alex jones made this will be a platform and a second but he started to talk about it excessively alien with people say, just asking questions, you
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really have to wonder what is going on in essex an excuse for a lot of stuff, very famously for philosophy will i think joe rogan doesn't sometimes be back a lot of people are saying it and just asking questions which i neverm say by the way for some asking questions. [laughter] and i'm just asking questions and so there are debates in fact pretty there never just a question anyway, when he was doing this, he was making money as we started to do it for writings and often you like it's not really doing this but in rtthis case, he saw the numbers correct. >> so when alex jones got: the carpet for this, around 2014, 2015, 2016, one thing that he had was he didn't come up with these theories, he was only repeating if the claims of others, which is false and you
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listen to is broadcast from the date of course i have hours of the shooting, he had started to say, this is a plot to get american guns so that was false and the other thing was, i never made any money from this but as a matter fact these hundred controversial theories, i lose what i put this out and that's absolutely wrong, between 2013, and 2016, his audience double date to 50 million viewers a month and the money, so the first thing that i had to go on work records from his divorce in 2013 and 2014, had their he had his personal income was $5 million a year but now some records had started to emerge just in the last several days actually, that suggested that during the trump presidency which was when joseph was really writing hi, he had revenues of
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more than $50 million. >> 's $50 million at the time, much of it sandy hook. >> correct. >> genius business model. >> yes, i was doing was he sells products that are absolutely geared to the paranoia and fears of his audience. so is dry food for your shelter and untraceable gun components he got 11 that you don't need to register in the end times homes and it is vitamin supplements and diet supplements are people do not trust traditional medicines and toothpaste because floyd the government puts in your water is to write your brain is so he sells the stuff out from a warehouse outback from his headquarters, $50 million a year. >> so he's taken advantage of the customers also crappy products have been at the same time using crop to sell it.
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[laughter] >> yes, so you know what, it works unfortunately and so he then of course, you social media platforms to do this he was not just while he also appeared on a lot of mainstream media, joe rogan and a lot of different places and so that was one part of it but online was really important for him. use the same tactics for januare was one of the organizers. so talk a little bit about that how use the d platform and then the platforms did or did not do. >> sure, while his business model again, it was genius, he modeled it after your human, 1971, wrote this sortme of semil conspiracists a town called - conspiracy coming to lamia global banker saying that they're the ones behind american policy and not electeds
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officials. and he's to sell his theories and his real darling of the nonvirtual society, the far right mergers and he is to sell his theories at that time, digital cassettes and cassette tapes and he did it through mail order and that is how alex jones started, and his ex-wife they would create these feature films from bohemianhe row and writing about the globalists or whatever they would not only send them out to you if you know contacted them like it but by phone or later website, they encouraged the people who bought them, pass them around and let all of your friends at see what i am saying is for this and that was exactly the verbiage he was using during 2020 the wrap to the insurrection. >> what is said they were using these platforms yes, exponentially obviously in one of the arguments was in a read
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you something that i wrote, i'm not going to tell you when i read it but in a minute but they went there because these were platforms that allow them to do this at a much faster rate without any tracings and any kind of editorial function and end amenities and talk about that, so he started to do that. >> yes, completed to these platforms and now i'm not surprised and explain what happened to. >> nothing. [laughter] nothing. >> that is exactly right absolutely nothing and he compares it to many laws governing any set company and amounts to zero and actually go ahead. >> so many try to get this materialal taken down so a backp for a second, alex jones material, he started to put every broadcast from youtube, and youtube video were racking
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up million views for example, any on a twitter handle of the things that everybody had who wants to spend stuff now and is so he exponentially increased his reach and defendant prepared him for where he was in the trump presidency as of yet scott had doubled his audience and put the stuff out of mind. >> who is more powerful, twitter or facebook and facebook. >> at the time i think it was actually youtube was one of the most powerful. >> yes. >> he was putting his video on their during that sina can wasn't thought of nothing, he slain nothing. >> so many many started to see this couldn't believe it. >> so many, having realized it had trying to debunk these hard-core conspiracists and we realize that would not work and
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the first tools in this to given copyright laws we had a memorial page that had photos of noah with his sistersrs and family videos any owns that stuff of the conspiracists were going on and taking that in lifting up the material and putting it into the videos onto their websites or whatever and use the copyright laws to get that stuff takenut down and so that was the first real effective thing from anywhere to appeal to them directly, and he describes that it like, standing in front of the c doors and your knocking ad nobody can even if you make it hurt much less anyone opening to you and that was - he couldn't get that except when he went to copyright he saying they're just making it up and it's a bunch of lies and this got no reaction for any of them correct and so
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we went to copyright which they are familiar with and that's the only law. >> what you think of this and what did he think of it. >> you calle me like why are you doing this. [laughter] .. you said, you know these are you here analogy about facebook just sticks with me that mark zuckerberg has built a city without police without fire department without sewag mark zuckerberg built a city without police, sewage, garbage pickup and he gets all the rent from our movement around the city. it's called the purge we should much.joy very [laughter] corrects he did get them to start to pay attention. cracks of public shaming and in
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the book there is a really great incident where karen interviewed alex jones or mark zuckerberg about alex jones. and asked him, before even sat down with him, before they weree even recording said you're going to take downt this material you're going to take down alex jones. you're going to d platform him i said three weeks and he said no that's ridiculous i'm not. i said ohh no you are. he essentially said he's going to make me and i said me i brought it up right a away. thinking he would avoid that question the thorny question of alex jones and may segue right over to the holocaust. holocaust denial being basically those people are just mistaken. no they do not mean to lie. i felt it was a definition of a
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holocaust that they actually need to lie benevolently. in that case andt don't you to react to this i was not surprised by what they did, what they did was when he moved we talked about alex jones and he felt uncomfortable because at the time it was getting a lot of attention. he said you know, let's move on to theas holocaust and i was lie no. don't do it, i felt bad as a parent don't do it. there's an earlier version. [laughter] i was like okay do it. one of the things i did was not speak i did not interrupt. when l he started to say it holocaust deniers don't mean to lie and therefore should be able to say what they think, instead of saying you fatuous a pop and jay of course they mean to lie that's the again press it all interesting please go on, go onh >> were you surprised by that you are right in the midst of this he said the quiet part out
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loud to his way of putting it. >> is just what facebook used to say back in those timeses are a little earlier, we will never play by china's rules. this was something money it really picked up on he didn't op-ed where he calls zuckerberg out on the holocaust lie and on g, you are not even protecting peoplerg who are targeted by holocaust deniers and we are even lower down the food chain. and that got a real reaction and within a month alex jones was off of facebook only because applee did it first will have apple envy. >> it was like dominoes and then twitter dated than the others. they weren't going to do it without doing it one 100%. so were going to get questions from the audience, where are we now? think you've moved from
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surprised they're doing this to how it ended up. the sandy hook's hoax page is gone. what about all of this material? >> what was interesting is the sandy hook foe post facebook page was gone but we did our first conversation on the book the sandy brook hoax or twitter account suddenly disappeared that was two weeksks ago. so it is prettynd amazing how little they do to try to police these platforms. >> you give them any excuses why they're so much information? it has happened in covid, vaccines, have an election happen january 6 is now queuing on of course, pizza gate other mass shooting spree. >> yes exactly. what do you imagine has to happen? they are trying to sort of starch their black hats or white in this ukraine thing by immediately pulling it down the didn't wait for me or you to yell at them, please do this.
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i used to call myself the call center for t these places the kd of thing where i would call and say, the one i had is when i called it was sheryl sandberg is it hillary clinton is not a lizard i have met her she is not a lizard can you take down these conspiracy theories that she is an actual lizard it's under her skin in all of this ultimately led to pedophile and this and that. >> so what do you imaginela they're going to do now? what you think will happen? is doing this group is trying to expand it, what happens next from your perspective? >> a while, and alex jones at the end of last year there were four separate defamation lawsuits filed by the victims of ten victims. alex jones has a loss of those suits because he refused to cooperate and to give his business records or to provide adequate depositions.
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so he basically just defaulted himself. and so they won it is a sweeping victory for the families. but it means that now in the spring just a couple weeks from now the trials will begin so juries will set damages. >> just damages? >> all he has lost all thede juries have to do is decide how much he should pay them in damages. >> he will of course declare bankruptcy? >> he's already scurrying, running setting up and juggling a web of llcs he has to try to hide his income. >> and so the pain these family continue continues. >> now i think his move to a policy level because sadly they are joined by many more people who have been wronged by the same thing. there are some interesting moves on section 2:30 which is the legal shield these platforms have that keep them for being sued for defamation themselves.
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>> is a very early law part that gives a broad immunity not just to tech companies but it was meant to allow the internet to take off. it did. and the question is, if you pull it off what will happen? there's also some very good arguments for not doing. can you imagine when we continue in this information desert that is full of information or data? rattle think it's a desert full of rattlesnakes. what do youou imagine happening and then i went to asked some questions. >> i think it's anyone's guess. i think the reason i wrote this book and i was so compelled to get this into the world's these families shared with me the worst day of their lives because they r really feel like if peope read this book and get mad they will be given to push for some policy change.
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that is what i hope for. >> what would that be? >> told you in your interview the department ofin information security, would a department of information security be able to police these platforms or come up with some kind of a broad fixes we could be pessimistic about this. at least people are talking about it there seems to be some bigger brains in the room now. it does seem that the platformse are not able to just shut those iron doors on anybody with the complaint anymore. lenny is her rocchi got their number. he really felt i'm going to make this my life's work but is it really fair that a grieving parent should make it his life's work after losing his son to get
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these platforms to behave themselves? >> exactly it's ongoing, how old would noah be? >> know it would be 15 this year. november 20 he would be 15. sixteen that's right age of one of my children. i'm going to read you something i want you to answer the final question i have here in this thing. i'll take it in the end, it says it was about trump and twitter whether they should take them off he had violated all thehe rules almost continually. he is the most high-profile example of someone being d platforms he just broke the rules that's all he did that's all he did he broke the rules. rule so they do not enforce. it so happens in recent weeks including a fancy pants washington dinner party this past week i've been testing companions with a hypothetical scenario i made up for my premise have been to ask what twitter management shift mr. trump loses a 2020 election and then tweets and accurately
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the next day and for the rest of the month there'd been a widespread fraud andct moreover people should rise up and armed insurrection to keep him in office. most people oppose this question two of the same response through mr. trump off twitter for inciting violence. if you said he probably should only be temporally suspended to quell any address very few should he should be allowed to use the service that repercussions suits he was no longer the president read one high-level government official asked me what i would do, my answer i nevereg would've let it get this bad to begin with. what this into thousand 19. fully a year end a half before this happened but i got called by all the executives of these companies and said how dare i create such aur terrible scenar? which is exactly what happened. how does -- how to get this bad to begin with? to me this was the moment. we tolerate not just guns but this information. how do you think we fix it? [laughter] you are in charge.
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it is for a day. i don't know, i don't know. i do think these platforms are so enormous they obviously cannot police themselves. i think and we talked about this when i interviewed you for the bookve they are so large even if they wanted too. even if they were forced to they would not be able to remove all of this content. so i don't know. it is the kindqu of question tht makes some of the big thinkers out there and text say blow it up and start over. so i don't know. do you think blowing up and starting over will be a better solution? >> darren is on the smartest thinkers on it said it is the biggest experiment in human communication that is failed. there are some people i have a starstruck -- star wars theory i think up a "star trek" everyone
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gets along this multiracial group get along and even the villains turn good on their star wars or everybody dies like nobody comes out well the empires always striking back. i think we live in star wars and am not sure what to do about that. let me ask some questions this is jennifer griffin she is doing god's work we love you. >> given him a going to be so happy. >> she is amazing i've been tweeting love letters to her on the internet. [laughter] effects using your powers for good brick. >> it's god's work what she's doing over there fox. fantastic national security reporter she is wonderful. was there ever any russian link to alex jones? what percentage of his share were bought into what degree is russian behind this explosion of conspiracy theories in america? ask a great question.
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so alex jones we let this part out of our narrative, was a regular on rt. let's russia today. gremlin funded state tv. he would get up in the middle of the night his ex-wife told me, clamber out of bed ready to go on rt at all hours. who's eager to expand his platform by whatever means necessary. his many pooch and apologist from the start. he admires that. i actually think paul and i have talked about this, when i was a reporter eastern europe even then not terribly. long ago itin would have taken a pretty sophisticated for an adversary like russia so the kind of disinformation we are doing ourselves. if we are worried about russia interfering in our next election don't worry about it because we have already done it we will do it again.
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was he talk about bots. >> i asked him when i interviewed alex jones i asked him about russia and rt and he went absolutely bananas. it was the only time during our interview he truly lost it and it made me wonder what is your relationship there? it was either that he thought just that association would ruin him with his audience, or there is something there. i don't sound like an conspiracy theorist myself i don't really know what. [laughter] with russia behind this explosion theory very much so. >> it really struck me the other day what did russia say about that maternity hospital that was bombed in ukraine? they said the pregnant women being evacuated. >> the foreign minister said russia had been c canceled.
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>> you're damn right they have. it's ridiculous to use a term like that it's crazy. >> russia has a love to those who are the reasons alex jones was on their early was to talk about american mayhem for there's nothing better than to broadcast news in russia about american gun related mayhem. what did they used to call the traveler? one of the thing i did a story jump at roseanne barr said that terrible thing and then samantha be a week later said something not very nice about ivanka. they are the same bots jetting it up getting on both sides of the roseanne thing saying she is right and then note she is
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terrible they're all from the same company that was doing it. and then human get involved. so started the fight the same companies did the same thing with samantha be they just wanted to create mayhem which to me felt like it was the internet theyhi think and rush that group that does this. >> ira that does this. russia uses contractors meaning they hire these people with a rant somewhere and things like that part is not just that it's iterated other places. what groups are disproportionately affected by these conspiracy minorities,so windham, lgbt care et cetera, yes to all the above. and how? >> really all of the above. an essential element of a conspiracy theory demonizing and division. you pick ae group and hold it on the cases of sandy hook it was the family, first responders ozark represented the good of
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the case the facts and the truth. in all these other theories alex jones is a master at this. every time it's been sued is demonize a certain group. he said he was importing immigrant racists into the united states. it's always about demonizing one of these groups whatever it happens to be but they don't care presumably just whatever cells. >> an arrangement is engagement but. >> that is my big line for thisn milan discussant and public spacesiz about trust in america based on your reportingve what o you believe we need to do to improve trust in american institutions like the media, government at each other? >> that's a big question. we need a hole of the program on that. >> conflict in ukraine is very interesting most people agree which is a sad t pathetic way. >> that kind of unity has a
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cellular tory effect of course we want the things is the erosion of trust of the mainstream media because as one of the sandy hook lawyers put it, if there are no arbiters of truth than anyone can be an arbiter of truth and that is what this is. meaning everybody has our own set of facts for thishe also dos when people don't even agree on a basic set of facts. >> jim an answer?ue worksite wish i knew i really wish i knew but. >> an interesting issue in everyone's t getting different there in silos and something markedly used to talk about is try to bring everyone together all you're doing is creating silo after silo. he happens on cable news it happens everywhere what age to start teaching again people it's and how are adults a lost cause? [laughter] my mother is. [laughter] [laughter] i pointed her to you, jennifer.
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[laughter] [laughter] >> how do we restore the trust in thehe media? or media literacy. >> as early as possible. even among my own boys who are both here, david is 18 and charlie is 25. [laughter] like now tell our birthdates. >> 20 you were there presumably? [laughter] they both just hadad their birthdays i'm still doing lester's math. they are highly skeptical both of their own use and also of what they read online. i think that's really healthy. >> two of my kids. >> and how old? worksite for kids 16 and 19 the
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others can't reject although i did have a big argument last night that you think the baby knows marcus said the baby can't read, rick it was a weird twitter fight but that idiot. she thanks her baby can read. they have the same thing this idea that young people are more critical of believing anything online. there are some really -- in the book there are some really interesting research and something called c pre-bunking which is about teaching people how the sausage is made so they can recognizeha the elements ofa conspiracy theory and they're aless likely to share it and likely to report it make it harder to share. a lot of things you really want to do that youou really want to share. i love that it's a study done out of and a lot of work being done out of cambridge. think that is so fascinating because it uses that. one of the things that drives some of these conspiracies is possession of superiors
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knowledge. so if they feel like when they get online, i have done this study and played this game the debt at their online i know what that is. they kind of use their own character traits in order to turn them against conspiracy theories. >> you think some these warnings unlike twitter has went on if youu are angry do it to share it is sure believe it maybe haven't read this like putting a twinkie on a plate saying are you sure you want to eat this? i don't know but. >> me just hang on quick through that. total instant gratification. >> the least possible thing you can do and typical of them. >> is virtue signaling. exactly. just useless. can you talk about how you discovered the story and decided to pursue it? that's a good question. >> in mid 2018 when the first two -- the families of two sandy
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hook victims two children who were killed noah's mom and louis who s were the parents of jessej lewis who also died at sandy hook when they sued alec jones for defamation in texas in mid thought this is a very interesting test of the first amendment all around. that's when i first got involved in it. that was when i went to talk to the lawyers and that's when i realize this is a much bigger story even then the family saga there awful saga is what is symbolic of what we are all going to live through it in our communities if something is not done. >> what is your sense of eight social m media companies claimig to be providing a platform for a multitude of voices meeting or just a benign platform. how is mark zuckerberg's no worse than alex jones is he
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worse given his clear profit from facilitating propaganda lies and hate? >> that is a good one. [laughter] >> unkind that one of him but go ahead brickwork she's never going to give you another interview after the holocaust thing. [laughter] the parler guy did that did turn out well for him. [laughter] i will. i can see why people argue that. it's one thing to know. >> we have time for one more. go ahead finish it. >> i think that is a legitimate argument he knows what is going on. it has been too long he knows what he created he just can'tf control it. >> is one of the richest people inn. the world. i'm going to ask one w more question let's see which one they are all so good. sorry we did not get to more pre- >> i think this is the same one. >> e-mail me.
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these are the same ones i'm going too read them both kind of a tough question. i'm very dark aspect of human dilution and cruelty change your view about our, leave you more or less hopeless and how did you keep despair at bay while writing this book? >> always a baseline right? more orr less. how did you keep despair at bay will writing this book? that's incredibly depressing topic. i always feel a little uncomfortable and a lot of people fastened in fact is just telling a story today were a woman i know said hey that woman over there in the salon, she wrote this book about sandy hook woman was like she must bee a downer. [laughter] click she's not a downer. >> eaten apart inside.
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>> dying a slow death. no. and i will say it was the grace of thesehe families. i always say when people say oh my god that must've been so hard. i said imagine living it. they share this and as i will say again the share of these moments because they want all of you to do something. to me that is the most inspiring thing. they have help that this book will inspire somebody to take some action. they have faith actually despite all of these efforts to undermine our democracy, to lie about the deaths of their children, they still s believe. until how could we give up?es how could i? >> what can they do? >> write your congressman.
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first thing, read the book as robby said the other night we did a book about robby parker said i would encourage people, this is hard material. but it's not too hard you can't stand it. and take it on, read it. thenen get pissed. contact people who can make change whether social media platform or its membersng of congress who are starting to grapple with it. >> they are in a bipartisan way it's one of the few bipartisan efforts that is actually taking root in the congress. so you're saying get angry. a radio host said to me i don't mind telling you this book may be a little mad. >> that's absolutely the goal. >> also think about what you're carrying around.
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i cleared cheap dates for the luncheonette. understand what they are doing it is not unlike opioid companies are also joint bases of shit it's not unlike that because it is addictive as the pandemic has shown us it's addictive it's necessary for your job, your life your social life and it's run by the richest people in the history of the world bring the companies of of the most valuable companies the top ten companies except for saudi aramco or which might be after this crisis, thed top ten companies in the world are tech companies, valuable the top of richest people the world except for the saturdays richest people in the world. just keep that in mind that is your money. think of that. >> anyway elizabeth this is a
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book you really should read do not look away whatce happened to these parents and you are right the grace that they have is really inspiring. don't let them down, elizabeth thank you. [applause] >> thanks for coming. [applause] [applause] >> so thank youer very much. >> thanks for having us. >> for the book for the conversation for the question housekeeping reminder i know it's annoying of putting your chairs against the wall whende you're done. reminder the store it does close at 8:00 p.m. i don't actually know what time it is for. >> 82. >> out is it? on to end on a hopeful note i am
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originally from, talking about the outpouring of support you mentioned a number of times in the book to go against the society in the weeks after words got so many pieces of mail from so many places in the world the town hall had to run shifts of 40 -- 50 volunteers opening mail from all over the world. i don't even know how many thousands of people pieces of mail were set for everyone saying we are with you. we support you. we areres. going to do kindness appear going to acts of love in our own communities. and so if you don't want to get involved in writing your knowessman or you don't anything about tech or anything like that you can be that person
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of kindness in your community but you can interrupt any sort of conspiracy theorists from impacting your own friends and family. on s the you can just go up and sam going to be nice to somebody today but im don't know who, i don't know where it's going to happen but i'm going to go outer and be nice to somebody today. that could be what changes that person'sif life. so go ahead you will cry just see how you will cry during this book. i cried tears are in the first chapter. so take it, take what it means to you and go out and be part of the change so thank you. [applause] >> he spent now is a free mobile app their unfiltered view of what's happening in washington
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