The New York Times published an essay on Tuesday detailing a range of recommendations for the Biden administration to adopt to fix the “reality crisis” and “de-radicalize” citizens, including setting up a “reality czar” and “truth commission.”
The essay, penned by Times technology columnist Kevin Roose, accuses “millions of Americans” of embracing “hoaxes, lies and collective delusions” before questioning how to unite a country where these millions “have chosen to create their own version of reality.”
“I worry that unless the Biden administration treats conspiracy theories and disinformation as the urgent threats they are, our parallel universes will only drift further apart, and the potential for violent unrest and civic dysfunction will only grow,” Roose writes.
The author then states he contacted several “experts” seeking what actions the Biden administration could take “to help fix our truth-challenged information ecosystem, or at least prevent it from getting worse” and then provides the answers he was given.
Joan Donovan, a research director of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, suggested that the Biden administration set up a “truth commission” led by those familiar with extremist factions including white supremacist groups and far-right militias behind the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot, in order to investigate the event.
Donovan describes such an effort as “similar to the 9/11 Commission,” which provided recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.
The author then claims that experts suggested using “new and narrower labels” to distinguish between different types of movements and levels of influence within those movements.
Another recommendation Roose claims to have received from these experts is for the Biden administration to create a task force to “tackle disinformation and domestic extremism” and be led by “something like a ‘reality czar.’”
“It sounds a little dystopian, I’ll grant,” writes Roose. “But let’s hear them out.”
Such a task force may also hold recurring meetings with tech platforms to “push for structural changes,” including formulating the means for such platforms to share information about “QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities” with both researchers and government agencies.
“This task force could also meet regularly with tech platforms, and push for structural changes that could help those companies tackle their own extremism and misinformation problems,” the essay states.
By JOSHUA KLEIN