Saturday, September 15, 2018

When Fiction Becomes Fact

This is an image of an Apple
Are you sure?
How do you know?
Just because I stay something is not true, does not not make it not true. Likewise, just because I say something is true does not make it so.

I am afraid.

As a nation we are struggling to understand the difference between real and imagined. Forces in our society have blurred the lines by decrying that free media are purveyors of falsehoods.

The idea of "Fake News" is not new. It has been around for a while, but in today's context it is threatening to rip the fabric of society apart. 

The free press has done a good job, in the past, of policing itself and pointing out exaggerations and inaccurate reporting given the opportunity to do so. I remember the downfall of Brian Williams, the former NBC News Anchor who lied about some of his experiences during the Iraq war. He was swiftly removed because he no longer represented the highest journalistic standards.

Now we have a split media that reports fake news with a megaphone, by passing on the rants of politicians pitted against the media which struggles to provide balanced reporting. Are those who accurately report the words of senior politicians and leaders reporting fake news or are they accurately reporting what is said and therefore fake news has become fact?

To what end?

The end game is not pretty.

I have been appalled about the recent discussion concerning how many Americans died during the Puerto Rico hurricanes. No matter what the answer truly is, in my view too many Americans died and it was because of an inefficient and poorly planned hurricane response. Focusing on the number and labelling dissenters as providing fake news is a deft way to change the true point of the discussion from why did so many Americans die to how many Americans died and then we forget the real point of the question.

Context and competition is needed. Rather than decrying what is reported as fake news, the correct way is to provide documented facts. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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