Duke profs suggest Biden pursue 'new laws' to combat 'misinformation'

A pair of Duke professors are calling on the incoming Biden administration to establish a new commission aimed at combatting "misinformation."

Both suggested the possibility of new laws after the Biden administration begins to govern.

A pair of Duke professors are calling on the incoming Biden administration to fight “misinformation” with an approach that would “consider all possible solutions.

Politifact founder Bill Adair and fellow Duke professor Philip Napoli called for a “commission” to combat “misinformation” in an op-ed published by The Hill during the same week that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocated to “rein in” the media

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The professors described the purpose of the committee as“ a broad approach and consider all possible solutions: incentives, voluntary industry reforms, education, regulations and new laws.” They attempted to justify their call for a speech-regulating commission by calling attention to Trump supporters who “seek out the messages they want” from “conservative media commentators,” which “fueled the Capitol riots.”

Adair and Napoli acknowledged the effort by legacy media outlets and social media companies to fact-check “misinformation,” but believe that the better option is for the Biden administration to take a page out of President Lyndon’ Johnson’s playbook, comparing the tension in the 1960s to the present day. 

“The Kerner Commission, as it was commonly known, sought to explain the root causes of civil unrest in American cities and make recommendations about how to defuse the tensions,” the professors noted. “The commission paid particular attention to the role of the media. In a statement that resonates with the current moment, the Commission concluded that there was ‘a significant imbalance’ between what actually happened during events and what was reported in newspaper, radio and television coverage.”

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Adair and Napoli expressed hope that President-elect Joe Biden and his administration would be able to tackle the spew of “lies” and “violence” with the help a $1.2 million Duke University fact-check program that “brings together journalists, developers and academics to build apps to disseminate fact-checking to new audiences and create tools that help fact-checkers do their work.” 

In the op-ed, both professors said that because Democrats will control the House, Senate, and the White House, “any policy recommendations that might emerge from this commission would now have a much greater likelihood of coming to fruition.” 

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