Thomas Kent Writes that COVID-19 Disinformation May Backfire

Monday, August 3, 2020
Writing for CEPA (Center for European Policy Analysis), Thomas Kent (Adjunct Associate Professor, International and Public Affairs) asks the question "Suppose Disinformation Doesn't Win" in regard to the unprecedented levels of information about COVID-19:
The level of false information around covid-19 is stunning. But since the disease teaches us that the unthinkable is possible, could it also ultimately work against authoritarian leaders, and those who trade in disinformation? Deluding citizens about who controls the world’s wealth is harder than deceiving them about whether their neighbors are dying. Based on daily experience, people are ultimately likely to make evidence-based judgments about how to protect themselves, and how their rulers responded to the pandemic.
Governments mistrusted by citizens before the pandemic will suffer more if they bungled their covid-19 response or tried to use the disease for political ends. (Recent events in Serbia offer a foretaste of this.) If a vaccine is seen to save lives in Moldova, it will not rebound to the benefit of the Moscow-affiliated Orthodox Church there, which claims vaccine development is an “anti-Christ plot.” François Heisbourg of the International Institute for Strategic Studies predicts a “brutal” settling of accounts in countries where “improvidence or incompetence is seen as having wasted precious lives.”