The Chatter Podcast: Misinformation in Revolutionary America with Jordan Taylor

David Priess
Thursday, October 13, 2022, 10:38 AM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The American Revolution was not fought not only over taxation and representation but also information. Foreign news, received inconsistently and reprinted according to newspaper editors' biases and misperceptions, helped define the boundaries of early American politics and ultimately spurred colonists to rise up against the British authorities. Digging deep into the horribly flawed media environment from the mid 1700s to the birth of the nation, and then through the first post-revolutionary generation, reveals much about why events played out as they did.

To explore these dynamics, David Priess hosted historian Jordan Taylor--author of the new book Misinformation Nation: Foreign News and the Politics of Truth in Revolutionary America. They covered the persistence of misinformation and claims of "fake news," the origins and severe limits of newspapers in colonial America, the trans-Atlantic communication system, the importance of information and its pathologies during the revolution, Patriots' misperceptions of British politics and society, the French Revolution's portrayal in various American media, information mediation as an elite phenomenon, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Illuminati scare of 1798-99, lessons of the early American experience for today, how to avoid pessimism in an era of misinformation, and more.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

The book Misinformation Nation: Foreign News and the Politics of Truth in Revolutionary America by Jordan Taylor

The play Hamilton

The published works of Mike Caulfield

David Priess is Director of Intelligence at Bedrock Learning, Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. He served during the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations as a CIA officer and has written two books: “The President’s Book of Secrets,” about the top-secret President’s Daily Brief, and "How To Get Rid of a President," describing the ways American presidents have left office.

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