- Feb. 10, 2020
- 4 min read
As we are surrounded by more information every day, it’s more important than ever to look at its source, validity, and the biases of those who put it forward. If you see a post on Facebook or a political ad that says the sky is blue you ought to get confirmation from at least three additional sources.
It reminds me of the guy who heard his mother-in-law had died. His direction to the funeral home was “Embalm, cremate, and bury. Take no chances.”
No one is unbiased. Not me (although I try), not thee, not the guy behind the tree. My counsel has always been to look at everything you hear with a skeptical eye and turn to a variety of news sources. If you listen to just CNN, or MSNBC, you’ll simply not know some of the things you should. If you listen to just NPR, Fox, your local station, or Gladys Kravitz, you aren’t relying on enough sources.
Of course, there’s no requirement that you be well-informed. People in the U. S. are free to base opinions and voting decisions on whatever they want, relevant or not, true or not. We would be better off if everyone actually knew what they were talking about, no doubt, but people are free to be ignorant. That right is embraced by a lot of people.
The DOJ recently confirmed that, during the Russia investigation, the FBI illegally secured warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. Focus on that for a moment. Our most important law enforcement agency broke the law, lied, and even forged information, in order to get approval to surveille a private U. S. citizen and the campaign for which he worked. This is the stuff of banana republics.
None of the major national broadcast news organizations even covered the story. Not one. It’s no wonder there are millions of people who think you’re making it up if you say Hillary and the DNC paid Russian sources to lie about Trump. Or that the information was then used to justify spying on the Trump campaign. It’s so outrageous one has a hard time believing it.
The problem is that it’s incontrovertibly true. Yet, many people don’t believe it because the places where they get their news never reported it. You can watch CNN all day long and you aren’t likely to hear much that doesn’t fit their anti-Trump narrative.
Just a week ago, CNN covered the impeachment trial, breathlessly, and did on air fact-checking of the defense. They did not do fact-checks on the prosecution.
Oddly enough, “fact checkers” aren’t much better. You can hang the title of “fact checker” around your neck and suddenly people assume you’re telling the truth. Why? Because we say so. Oh, great. That settles that!
There’s a whole industry now around supposed fact-checking, but, if you look at them, nearly every one of them is biased. The criteria they use is at best subjective. Most often, the lists of supposed lies contain things that are partially true, one-sided, or misleading.
If you say the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best organization in the NFL, that’s a statement that can be criticized and proven false in a dozen ways. Opinion and fact are joined at the hip. By the same token, if you say the Democrats are the party of open borders – a statement that is true and defensible in every important way – you will be called a liar because some Democrats say it isn’t so.
Fact-checkers talk about things that are untrue or misleading, and label things as false that are in fact very defensible. Veracity can be complicated. Nearly any statement can be torn apart if that’s your goal.
This week saw “fact-checking” taken to possibly a new low. CNN said Trump was lying when he said James Comey leaked information from his time as FBI Director, which, of course, he did. Comey follows the Joe Biden school of rhetoric; it’s o k to do it, even boast about it, because as long as you deny it later the mainstream media won’t hold you accountable.
Comey admitted, in an interview on CNN, that he gave information from a meeting with president-elect Trump, discussing confidential issues, to a friend of his, asked him to share it with the New York Times, and hoped it would lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor. Which it did.
Then CNN called Trump a liar for saying something they could have confirmed by just looking at their own archives. It’s pathetic when a network attacks people for saying things they’ve themselves reported. The news directors at CNN could have a pretty entertaining debate with only one person in the room, arguing vociferously with him or herself.
We’ll continue discussing these issues in the days ahead. They’re central to our nation’s future and the political process that will mold it. For now, think about this: How close are we to the day when news outlets no longer pretend to be objective? It’s already happening, in a de facto sense. Most people don’t believe the media, and those perceptions are justified. No well-informed person looking for balanced news would watch just CNN or MSNBC. At some point, the management of those organizations is likely to just confirm what any objective person already knows: they have an agenda, and they’re not going to provide balanced coverage.