Op-ed: Giving Zero Facts
Remember when politicians were honest before the rise of Donald Trump’s alternative facts and fake news? Well, clearly you could use a media refresher, because lying didn’t start with Trump, according to Paul Krugman, who coined the term “post-truth” in 2011 while writing about the 2012 election. In his New York Times op-ed, Krugman points out the repeating of debunked info by notorious good-ol-boy Mitt Romney, when Mitt Romney called Obama a socialist.
Now, this didn’t threaten the core of our democracy, but Mitt Romney’s lies were not nearly as spicy hot as those of Mr. Donald J. Trump. We need our fact-checking system now more than ever because it allows for objective truths to be established and that returns common ground in political conversations, right?
Well, no. This isn’t because I’m peddling some relativistic and/or nihilistic b.s. from your freshman philosophy course. Rather, fact-checking is a biased form of invalidating the anxieties of Americans.
Big city liberals talk about recognition of the problems facing minorities, yet they forgot to stand up for industrial workers as factories left their districts. They talk about the problems facing inner-city minorities, but they fail to see the rise of suburban poverty and drug-use as their problems. As reported on NPR, Trump had high success in areas afflicted by drug addiction, alcoholism and suicide, yet the media feels intent on fact-checking the now president that inspired those disenchanted communities.
Instead, the media has left behind the real anxieties communities have about immigration and economic stagnation. Sure, fact-check there being no Bowling Green massacre or Swedish terror. Even so, are we seriously not going to address the fact that a large portion of Americans fear terrorism, crime, and job loss from immigration? No, instead liberals bridge the gap by circulating snarky headlines from HuffPo, and just directly calling others racist.
But are you really not going to cover the fear many blue-collar and service industry workers have about losing their jobs to offshoring and automation? Nowadays, liberals are quick to protest Trump signing a discriminatory executive order, but there wasn't national outcry against Obama’s push to secure trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The core of this problem is that progressivism is as much of a political statement as a fashion trend. Right now, liberals are pumped to defend our country’s most vulnerable, but only if they're in fashion. The media bastions change their facts based on the time, and all those facts say throw away the old for the new.
Low income industrial workers have been replaced by low income minorities. Feminists have purged out anyone who dares utter a religious statement on abortion, and now established feminist authors get attacked if they don't support transgender rights. Progressivism is now based on burning and shaming the old coalition for the flashy and new, and their facts change based on the utility to the fad.
The media is full of people selectively employing facts and this has resulted in a general distrust of fact-checking and the news media.
Honestly, is it worth it to keep this obsession with facts without addressing the root of the issue that we are leaving some issues behind? Are we going to keep up this game akin to a doctor fact-checking a patient hit by a car and telling them they were hit by a truck?
Maybe doing a lot less fact-checking and a lot more listening could benefit the left right now, because you never know when you’ll lose the left’s ear and, worse, see its mouth instead.
Jack Williams is a senior in the School of Public Affairs.