MK: Do you believe that FOX "News" is helping to create an alternative universe Idiot America bubble? You discuss the inanity of being Sean Hannity in your book, for instance.
CP: The bubble exists, and it is goddamn dangerous. It clearly was dangerous to Mitt Romney as a politician because it kept him from believing he was in trouble, right up to the moment they called the election the other way. The bubble is created when we go into denial that there are consequences to believing nonsense. It seems right now that the mother of the Newtown shooter may have been living partly in the bubble of survivalist paranoia. FOX has contributed to both of these bubbles.
MK: Let's look at the rabid denial that global warming exists. More than 80 percent of Republicans in Congress appear to believe that it does not exist - and many Democrats don't seem to see any imperative in resolving it. Here we see a climate change denial propaganda machine - in large part financed by the fossil fuel industry and polluting companies - having, it appears, successfully debunked the growing degradation of our planet. Are we in an age when there are simply no facts; only, as you have noted, falsehoods turned into realties by those who scream the loudest and get the most coverage on television?
CP: Again, the real danger is that we’re in an era where we think there are no consequences to believing nonsense. That’s the reason I went to Shishmaref in Alaska for the book. The people there think the whole “debate” is goddamn crazy.
MK: Are there any regional differences in Idiot America as far as numbers of people living in alternative realities?
CP: Living in them? No. Demanding that other people live in them? Yes. We have actual laws being passed in the South and West enshrining nonsense into law.
MK: One of your final chapters is entitled, "The Principles of Automatic Pilot." In it, you discuss how those who objected to the lies that were created to justify invading Iraq either didn't speak up or weren't listened to. You talk about those who understood terrorists better than anyone, but were ignored. How does this apply to "the principles of automatic pilot"?The corollary to which, seems to me, is the less you know and the louder you are, the harder you are to ignore. That esplains a lot.
CP: The metaphor was based on accounts from airplane crashes in which the pilots forgot to disengage the autopilot until too late. The actual human expert was defeated by the machine. The Iraq war was a bloodier example of what’s going on with the climate crisis. The more you knew, the easier you were to dismiss.