The New York Times is stuck in the past. And they certainly do not live in the real world. Not now.
But not ever.
Social media broke down the power of traditional media, but people have always misused facts to suit their own narratives.
But so did journalists. They misrepresent information all the time.
How many articles let readers know the PR firms that worked over the facts and angle of a story?
So a group of ignorant people took a snippet of a speech and twisted it to proof something nonexistent.
People have done it for years.
We have even had academics doctor pictures and results to make a nonexistent case.
Cyril Burt doctored his studies using fake twins to "prove" that intelligence was hereditary. He did it before social media and people believed him.
Social media didn't make people dumber. People have always been players those games.
When we will face human nature?
There were always underground movements that spread misinformation just as there always were media outlets that did the same. When we want to force people to think like we do, there have always been intellectual tools to do it.
It is nothing new; so let's not blame the machines for human nature.