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Control of the Narrative

Control of the Narrative

In a real scene, you can look around for the truth. This is what we depend on journalists to do. Too often, however, today’s reporters don’t report; they frame fake narratives.

I recall the scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on the bright morning in 2008 when the Court was poised to hear D.C. v. Heller. This case resulted in a 5-4 decision in which the Court affirmed the Second Amendment does, indeed, protect an individual right.

I watched as a handful of anti-Second Amendment activists were herded by a few TV talking heads into a tight group for the cameras. Shown this way, this small group of anti-freedom activists could be made to look like they were a small part of a large demonstration of people there to demand the high court rule the Second Amendment into meaninglessness.

Even here, in front of the main entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court, and under the eyes of a pair of statues carved by James Earle Fraser—“Contemplation of Justice,” a seated woman holding a figure of blindfolded justice, and “Authority of Law,” a statue of a seated man holding a tablet of laws and a sheathed sword—these media members were busy shaping a fake-news narrative against our Second Amendment rights. 

This, of course, was just a small part of the overall scene. All around this obvious narrative shaping were hundreds of people peacefully lined up, all hoping for a spectator’s seat inside. Many had lined up before the sun rose.

Later, inside, I sat on a bench up above the main floor watching the hearing with other members of the media. Not far away was an AP reporter. I didn’t think much about her until, mid-hearing, when former Justice Anthony Kennedy asked a question that hinted he was pro-freedom, she gasped, “Oh no!”

I looked at her and smiled. Oh no, indeed.

Such is our media. But such are also our social-media companies and the narrative-shaping control they have over many Americans. The American public now receives censored news in their social-media feeds with no gun advertisements allowed; if gun owners talk about the shooting sports or self-defense in these digital spaces, they might be canceled or shadow banned. The real picture is, thereby, being shaped and controlled, just as those reporters in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building had done.

When a news source does this, you can see their politics woven into stories and put down the publication and pick up another. But Big Tech isn’t a publication or a cable news channel; it is an entire digital reality we are all feeding and being fed. It is family, friends, news, ads and a bombardment of everything else.

We don’t yet know the impact these digital realities are having on us, our politics and our freedom. But we do know we are being manipulated.

This, of course, is a big, complicated First Amendment topic that affects the Second.

We’ll continue to look for answers to this modern and deep problem.

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