The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time

The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time

The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time

Brooke Gladstone

The award-winning host of WNYC’s On the Media explores disinformation in the age of Trump, with a look toward what we can do about it.

From her front-row view of today’s events, journalist Brooke Gladstone shares her insights on what she calls our ever-growing “trouble with reality. ” As Gladstone shows us, reality was never what we thought it was. There is always a bubble, people are always subjective, and we are all prey to stereotypes. That makes reality actually more vulnerable than we ever thought. But then came Donald J. Trump and his team of advisors.

For them, as she Gladstone says, lying is the point. The more blatant the lie, the easier it is to hijack reality and assert power over the truth. Drawing on writers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Walter Lippmann, Philip K. Dick, and Jonathan Swift, Gladstone dissects this authoritarian strategy and shows how the Trump team mastered it, down to the five types of tweets that Trump uses to distort our notions of what’s real and what’s not.

Thankfully, Gladstone also offers hope. There is a time-tested treatment for moral panic. And if history is a guide, there is also the inevitable reckoning. Brief and bracing, The Trouble with Reality shows exactly why so many of us didn’t see it coming, and how we can recover both our belief in reality—and our sanity.


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