With all the controversy swirling over social media as well, as the actual media, over #Fake News, many people want to know – Who are we supposed to believe? Making the assumption that you are not a devoted partisan to one side or the other, blindly taking as “gospel truth” whatever your sources put out as fact, following are some considerations:
Donald Trump, aka The President of the United States
This one is fairly easily unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool Trumpkin. Donald Trump is incapable of telling the truth. For years he was able to get away with saying whatever caught his fancy on Twitter, and now that he has become the President, he obviously sees no reason to change his ways. He no longer confines his delusions to Twitter. Fox News gleefully reports everything he says without evaluation or critique. His bald-face lies to members of his own government are astounding. When he paid a visit to the CIA on his second day in office, he later claimed that he had received a standing ovation, greater than the one Peyton Manning got after the Super Bowl. In fact, the only cheers came from the group of paid supporters who accompanied him on the visit.
Just yesterday, he had the audacity to address the members of CENTCOM with the claim that the “very, very unfair media” was not reporting on the many “radical Islam attacks” occurring in Europe and America. Is he totally clueless on the mission of CENTCOM? The members in attendance deserve credit for not laughing in his face. ,
Trump manages to contradict himself, almost on a daily basis. Does he, or does he not know Vladimir Putin? Do they have any kind of relationship? Pick your day, pick your story. Nobody, especially Trump, seems to know the answer to this one. In this particular case, Pravda might be the most reliable source.
One reporter is tracking the number of lies the President has said since taking office. The last number seen was 37, but that was yesterday so it is doubtless higher now.
White House Spokespeople
Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, certainly got off on the wrong foot in his first press conference. Unfortunately, he has done little to regain his credibility. This is not necessarily an indictment of just Sean Spicer. White House Press Secretaries are notorious for putting the “approved” spin on statements they issue. Josh Earnest, President Obama’s Press Secretary, definitely threw some serious shade on the media regarding the deal with Iran. And Spicer has the added problem of dealing with conflicting stories emanating from sources within the White House himself. He is having to spin so fast it’s amazing he can stay on his feet.
Kellyann Conway, the person who gave us “alternative facts.” In other words, we don’t like your facts so we are going to make up our own and don’t you dare say we are wrong. And lest we ever forget, the tragedy of the Bowling Green Massacre. After claiming that she “misspoke” by referring to is as a “massacre” two additional examples of her calling it a massacre have surfaced.
Our Elected Members of Congress
One would hope that we could rely on the people we voted for directly to tell us the truth. Sadly, the hyper-partisanship that has seeped into the hallowed halls of the House and Senate over the years means that Party is placed above Country, and power is the golden ring everyone is trying to grab. If Democrat X says something, then Republican Y has to repudiate it in vitriolic terms and vice versa. This was not always the case. Even at the height of the Watergate crisis, members of both parties would debate, disagree, then go out for a drink together afterward. Republican Ronald Reagan made it a point of maintaining an amicable relationship with the Democrat Tipp O’Neill, the Speaker of the House.
In particular, the leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer need to set the tone and lead the way. Whether they are unwilling to speak out yet (Republicans) or call for drastic actions (Democrats), our country is facing a potential crisis as a result of the Trump presidency. They need to reach across party lines to act on behalf of the people and the Constitution they have sworn to protect. They need to be what our Founding Fathers envisioned – colleagues, not adversaries. Until they do, then their rhetoric can only be regarded as just that – rhetoric. And not believable.
The Print and Television Media
It was no accident that “freedom of the press” was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But along with freedom comes responsibility. There are many fine journalists who take this responsibility seriously, but their voices are often drowned out by the “yellow journalism” of some sites that are no better than tabloid news. Getting it first does great damage to their credibility if they don’t get it right as well.
Neither does the fawning sycophancy of Fox News, the only outlet that Trump has not attacked. They have made their motto of “Fair and Balanced” into a joke. Unfortunately, there are many who rely on them as their sole source of news. If you wish to watch Fox News, by all means, do so, but please check out some of the other television media for varying points of views. If you don’t like the U.S. news programs, then take a look at BBC news. You just might be surprised.
The same goes for print media as well. Not everyone is going to subscribe to the New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Whether you consider them “too liberal” or not, you always have the option of a local newspaper. If you do find a story or a reporter you like, it is usually possible to follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Bear in mind that reporters are human, just like the rest of us, and sometimes they make mistakes. All responsible journalists will immediately issue a retraction if this mistake is brought to their attention, as did the reporter who mistakenly said that the bust of MLK had been moved in the Oval Office. This is a mistake. It is NOT Fake News! And a message here to the media. For God’s sake, get rid of Dan Rather. He is the reporter who invented fake news with his disreputable, and easily debunked, a story on George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard.
Donald Trump and his minions have literally declared war on “the lying, dishonest media.” But don’t forget that this was also the mantra of Richard Nixon. So keep in mind that when a politician considers the media his “enemy” he just might have something really explosive to hide.
So who are we to believe? The answer to that is to wait, wait until a story has been confirmed by more than one credible source (such as a major news outlet). Do not take anyone’s statements at face value, even the President’s. Balance and weigh what you hear against your own common sense. And don’t forget Abraham Lincoln’s maxim. “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”