"That which does no earthly good cannot be heavenly minded." R. Rivera

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Has The Truth Gone?

By Ruben Rivera©

Let's leave aside for now Truth with a big T, as in objective, eternal, changeless realities à la Plato's forms, or as in Christian metaphysical "Word of God" absolutes. What happened to truth that allows us simply to trust the non-stop everyday things we are told? Trust, like going to a light switch and knowing that when you flip it to on, there will be light, because that's what normally functioning light switches do.

I switch on the "news" and I expect to get events and developments reported, because that's what (I thought) normally functioning news does. I do not expect or want so-called reporting slanted in favor of one political camp against another. Fox News claims that it "reports" and we the audience can decide if that's true. And in the face of video and document-backed critiques and exposés, Fox has repeatedly claimed that its reporting is not biased. Hence the need for the slogan: "We report, you decide".

Yet in a 2011 interview with comedian Jon Stewart  (in which Stewart attributed his comedic success partly to peoples' disappointment with the news media), Fox anchor Chris Wallace said: "I don't think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us. I think our viewers think, finally, they're getting somebody who tells the other side of the story."

I may not be the sharpest knife in the butcher block, so I need a little help here. Isn't that an admission of bias? Also, if a key mission of Fox is to tell their bias or "side of the story", isn't their other slogan disingenuous? "Fair and Balanced". The implications of Chris Wallace's admission is that Fox is not presenting "fair and balanced" news, but rather news shaped to counter other views?

Fine, if the NEWS is not factual reporting (and probably never has been), then I just wish it would be called something else. When I want opinion, I read the Op-Eds. If I want propaganda I'll put my brain on coast and listen to talk radio, or watch "reality" TV and commercial ads.

At least we can get one thing clear. Wallace's admission (and I thank him for his honesty) means that we can finally stop pretending that any one news organization is simply reporting the unvarnished "facts". Maybe it would help if "news" programs would keep opinion and propaganda to a special segment:

"And now, time for, Why the Other side is of the Devil. Brought to you by, POM Pomegranate Juice. Cheat Death. Drink POM."
In 2010 the US Federal Trade Commission ripped into POM for "false and unsubstantiated" claims that its juice could save humankind from a variety of diseases from heart attack and cancer to erectile dysfunction.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In his Autobiography (1873) John Stuart Mill reflects upon the reasons for writing On Liberty. One of these reasons was to provide the world with a “philosophic text-book of a simple truth.” This simple truth he defines in On Liberty as “the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”
The following are the thoughts he expressed in his Autobiography:

The Liberty is likely to survive longer than anything else that I have written (with the possible exception of the Logic), because the conjunction of her mind with mine has rendered it a kind of philosophic text-book of a single truth, which the changes progressively taking place in modern society tend to bring out into ever stronger relief: the importance, to man and society, of a large variety in types of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions. Nothing can better shew how deep are the foundations of this truth, than the great impression made by the exposition of it at a time which, to superficial observation, did not seem to stand much in need of such a lesson. The fears we expressed lest the inevitable growth of social equality and of the government of public opinion should impose on mankind an oppressive yoke of uniformity in opinion and practice, might easily have appeared chimerical to those who looked more at present facts than at tendencies; for the gradual revolution that is taking place in society and institutions has thus far been decidedly favourable to the development of new opinions, and has procured for them a much more unprejudiced hearing than they previously met with. But this is a feature belonging to periods of transition, when old notions and feelings have been unsettled and no new doctrines have yet succeeded to their ascendancy. At such times people of any mental activity, having given up many of their old beliefs, and not feeling quite sure that those they still retain can stand unmodified, listen eagerly to new opinions. But this state of things is necessarily transitory: some particular body of doctrine in time rallies the majority round it, organizes social institutions and modes of action conformably to itself, education impresses this new creed upon the new generations without the mental processes that have led to it, and by degrees it acquires the very same power of compression, so long exercised by the creeds of which it has taken the place. Whether this noxious power will be exercised depends on whether mankind have by that time become aware that it cannot be exercised without stunting and dwarfing human nature. It is then that the teachings of the Liberty will have their greatest value. And it is to be feared that they will retain that value a long time.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

What are we to do in the middle of all of these gimmicks and half-backed truths peppered with enough lies to get us in trouble?

We really need to learn to think, step back, reflect and live simply!!!

You are fabulous.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

The DUDE is awesome, isn't he?

Ruben Rivera said...

Thank you, you sweet creature. You are so right about the Dude. I'm going to get to him soon.


Fete et Fleur said...

All news is biased one way or another. Their slogan of you decide is ridiculous!

The POM drink add is actually quite funny!


Palomasea said...

Amen to all you said, Ruben. It is exasperating. I so agree with dear Anita..think for oneself and live simply. Live in your own truth.

A lovely weekend to you and Anita,
- Irina

Anonymous said...

Fox News is Disney World reporting and 'incroyablement dangereux'.
Murdoch destroyed the English popular press and I fancy Fox Disney is on the same course.
In the words of Walter Sobchak.....
Nihilists! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

Jg. for FatScribe said...

so this is the brain trust over here on this blog, huh? wow. thoughtful post and terrific comments to be found here, ruben.

really appreciate your comment about my post on japan v. a radicalized worldview. always appreciate the insights from someone who obviously draws from a fount of erudition.