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Trib's Exclusive COVID Report 

The Disinformation War, Conspiracy Culture

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Trib's Exclusive COVID Report
The Salt Lake Tribune did indeed launch its Sunday edition with a barnburner of a story about the state's so-called COVID-19 strategy. Dubbed an "exclusive," the paper detailed the internal battle between the Governor's Office of Management and Budget and the Utah Department of Health, uncovered through public records requests. If anything, the story highlighted the conflict between protecting the public and protecting the economy. It's something then-Gov. Herbert and incoming Gov. Cox have yet to figure out, although it appears they leaned heavily into the economy. If you felt former GOMB Director Kristen Cox's angst as the state simply reacted to rising COVID cases, then it should be apparent that a state, if a national, strategy would have helped. As for the Trib, we'll see if they can keep up the "exclusive" pace. For now, the reading public is still trying to digest its digital roll-out.

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The Disinformation War
Poor Burgess Owens. Apparently, there is no way to teach the man math, or the lessons of American democracy. Utah's newly minted congressman plans to join other right-wing nuts challenging the Electoral College, because he can't fathom how Joe Biden got more votes in 2020 than Barrack Obama in 2008. Then, Obama got a total count of 69.5 million votes, standing as the largest tally ever won by a presidential candidate—until now. Biden, admittedly no Obama, got 81.2 million popular votes and 306 Electoral votes to Trump's 74.2 million and 232. Owens might just consider why. The election brought out voters like never before—because of the love or hate of Trump. Let's take Burgess back to 2016, when Hillary Clinton got more popular votes than the Trump-man, who was arguably helped by a campaign of disinformation and won the Electoral College. And yet, her supporters did not disparage or dispute the process. This is not about believing the election was rigged; it's about understanding that it was not.

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Conspiracy Culture
Meanwhile, the conservative conspiracy rage threatens not only public safety but more importantly logic, education and science. In November, conspiracy theorists tried to get into a Provo hospital to "prove" that COVID was a fake, KUTV 2News reported. And the Deseret News, in its inaugural Sunday digital edition, ran an in-depth story about "the Great Reset," an initiative of the World Economic Forum, which, because it calls for global cooperation, sparked fear and certainty that change will bring about the End Times and of course, socialism writ large. The University of Utah's philosophy department delved into "The strange world of COVID-19 conspiracy theories," as history professor Robert Goldberg said the problem is that "a significant portion of Americans" see professionals and collaboration as suspicious. With Utah culture steeped in magical thinking, conspiracies are likely to grow with every challenge the public faces.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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