The Keynoter’s Jan. 25 editorial chastised the Trump administration for reporting it would be using “alternative facts” to respond to what it perceived as fake news, stating that there are only “facts,” not “alternative” facts. By definition, a fact is something that actually happened, that is true. While the “why” might be subjective, the “who,” “what” and “where” are not. To be reported as fact, the report must be verifiable.
Years ago, about the time the venerable Walter Cronkite retired, the press erased the organizational barrier between news and entertainment, saving management costs, but risking that hard news would be made more competitive by being made more entertaining. Today, the press is taking the next step: Erasing the logical barrier between hard news and opinion, fact and fiction.
Daily, because of laziness or sloppiness or political intention, mostly because of political intention, the press is publishing as fact reports that it has made no effort to verify. Trading on its long history of credibility of reporting news it has verified as fact, the press is offering up fake news and political opinion, justified by the responsibility it has assumed of keeping the government honest. But how long can you keep up the ruse of keeping the government honest if you are spinning the truth to make the current administration appear better or worse, depending on your politics?
In more than 30 years of reading the Keynoter, I have never know the paper to spin the truth for any reason. A few years ago, however, an Upper Keys paper reported a story, citing as fact information provided by only one side, of an event that happened at sea. The reporter made no effort to verify the information he received was fact by talking with the other person, resulting in the defamation and ruin of the other person’s life and reputation, despite the one-sided story being simply incredible on its surface. The press is capable of great good. It is also capable of great harm.
We live in a time when it is politically acceptable to publish as humor crude jokes about the 10-year-old child of the president. The bar on such values as integrity and respect and simple manners has been lowered to where it is scraping the dirt.
Yes, write the government to demand the administration tell us the truth. Did you do it when our last president assured us we would be keeping our insurance and our medical providers? But also write who publishes the news you read to demand they stop the propaganda, rebuild the wall between hard news and opinion so that you can easily tell the difference and stop using fake news and unverified “facts” to forward their political intentions.
Paul Garneau, Las Vegas