So really, just what is the truth?
Truth is not a nebulous concept. Something is either true, or it’s not. At least that’s what we used to think.
We had a prime example this week of how one person’s truth can be another’s falsehood. In a letter to the editor submitted this week, a writer accused the media of hiding what he believes to be the truth about the recent election, and he then went on to list a series of election fraud-related claims that have been thoroughly debunked and found to be without factual merit. So, truth or not? Who can tell anymore.
The publisher of this newspaper decided not to run this particular letter because it contains so-called facts that have not only been investigated and revealed as hokum, but were in no way substantiated by the writer. Where he got his information is anyone’s guess, but it’s not hard to figure it came from FOX News or Rush Limbaugh’s daily propaganda harangue on the radio. That’s not to discredit those media sources, but it’s obvious to anyone not in a coma that they are highly biased. And yes, we acknowledge that there are plenty of liberal media manipulators operating today, as well.
The proliferation of news sources -- and we use the term “news” rather loosely here -- since the massive expansion of cable news shows and internet podcasts, etc., has made very gray the distinction between truth and otherwise. There was a time when an average citizen could turn on the nightly television news or pick up a copy of a respected newspaper and know that they could get the “truth,” an unvarnished reporting of events as they happened. If Walter Cronkite said it, few doubted it. With a basic knowledge of what was occurring -- without someone’s opinion attached -- people could decide if they were OK with it or not. Knowing the news didn’t mean you had to like it, but at least one had a solid basis on which to decide.
Reliable, unbiased new sources, while they still exist, are difficult to find nowadays. Their voices have been drowned out by the cacophony of self-serving screams, and our public discourse is dominated by Tweets and re-Tweets of ideas so far from truthful it’s difficult to imagine how anyone even dreamed them up in the first place. Largely to blame for that are people who only want to listen to what they believe and have no concept that someone else’s thoughts are not only valid, but worth hearing.
The controversy over the recent presidential election has caused the truth debate to boil over. One side presents as “truth” the election results, the ballot counts, the recounts, the Electoral College counts, etc. The other says the “truth” is that the whole thing was rigged, conspiracy reigned, our entire system of democracy is broken.
Obviously, both sides cannot be correct. The truth is one or the other, but tens of millions of people believe one thing and tens of millions believe the other. How can that be?
The truth is (yeah, we should be careful with that) that our very own precious First Amendment has created this opportunity for chaos. We all have the right to say what we think, and hundreds of so-called news outlets are doing just that. In that environment, every imaginable opinion is free to be spoken, and what was once a clear line between truth and falsehood has become not just blurred, but erased.
Once again, for the sake of these freedoms we hold so dear as Americans, we must suffer the downside. All we can do is continue to attempt to filter out the truth from the fluff, no matter how difficult that has become.