Propaganda and outright lying are part and parcel of the modern world. There never was a golden age in which politicians didn’t lie. There never was a golden age in which journalists were courageous advocates for the truth. From the beginnings of democracy politicians have lied. Mass media always was propaganda. Newspapers in the 19th century were as politically biased as mass media outlets of today.
What has changed is that politics has expanded to encompass the whole of life. The weather is a political issue. If you remark that yesterday was warm for this time of year you are making a political statement. Sex is political. Sexual attraction is political. If you remarks that a young woman has a nice figure you’re making a political statement (and you’re oppressing women). Marriage is political. If you’re unwise enough to reassure a young woman that one day she’ll find the right man to marry you’re making a political statement (and you’re being a heteronormative oppressor). If, God forbid, you make a remark about women giving birth you’re making a political statement (men can give birth too, bigot). Biology is political. Science is political. Medicine is political. Religion is political. Everything is political.
Which means there is more propaganda than ever before.
Most people understand this but most people are extremely reluctant to admit that their own side engages in propaganda. Liberals are convinced that propaganda is something that conservatives do and conservatives obsess over what they see as liberal propaganda in the media while being unwilling to admit that their side uses propaganda as well.
The far right obsesses over propaganda in the mainstream media while being unwilling to admit that the right-wing alternative media is all propaganda as well.
As far as COVID-19 is concerned just about everything that both the pro-lockdown and anti-lockdown factions say is little more than propaganda but neither side will admit it. The same goes for climate change. And immigration.
If the subject is Russia or China then again both the pro and con cases are almost entirely propaganda. It’s also safe to say that if Islam or the Catholic Church is being discussed the discussion will in fact be nothing more than both sides presenting their own propaganda.
The most important thing you have to keep always in mind is that your own side is lying to you as well. Your political enemies are certainly indulging in propaganda, but so are your political allies. If there’s an election in the offing you can certainly assume that the candidate you dislike will be lying, but the candidate you favour will be lying as well.
Since everything is now political it naturally follows that every story in the media will be a mixture of lies, distortions, exaggerations and misinformation. It makes no difference whether it’s a right-wing or a left-wing media outlet or whether it’s the mainstream media or the alternative media.
It’s depressing, but all you can is to cultivate a healthy scepticism. Whatever is being said you have to ask yourself whether the person saying it has a political agenda (which is almost certainly the case) and if so what that agenda is.