The most enduring legacy of COVID may be how governments around the world used it as cover to undermine freedom, subvert the flow of information and establish ways of avoiding accountability that will outlast the pandemic itself. The United States federal government tried to flood the zone with questionable theories about how to deal with the pandemic and when and how it would affect the nation. Never was there a robust effort to provide transparency and persuasion to lead us through a novel public health crisis by bringing us together as a society. Other democracies did a much better job of rallying their people to the sacrifices required and autocracies used techniques like China’s ‘just in time censorship’ and Russia’s more aggressive lock down of the political opposition in the name of public health. In the compelling new book, “The Infodemic: How Censorship and Lies Made the World Sicker and Less Free”, Joel Simon and our guest, Robert Mahoney, take us on an international journey exploring government communications practices in the face of this health emergency. Their book is part of the Columbia Global Reports project.
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