By Nathan Barton
The headline is a question I’ve asked often in writing this commentary over the past decade.
It is a question that all of us should be asking almost continuously. As we read and hear the news – political or social or business. As we talk to (and listen) to others. As we provide our own ideas and comments to others.
Consider some recent news items. Tom Knapp and I have been discussing Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s own comments regarding the treatment of border jumpers and the facilities at which many are being detained. Did she or did she not compare the “migrant detention centers” to concentration camps during the Third Reich’s Holocaust, as well as claiming that the migrants are being detained in the same facilities used to intern Japanese Americans during WW2? Apparently, some of the comments attributed to her are not actually hers – she was referring articles written by others. So CNN apparently did NOT report the truth.
In California, the leader of a religious sect “The Light of the World” has been arrested for a humongous number of crimes, including child rape, sex trafficking, and child pornography. But many or most of the members of that church protest, saying that the authorities and media are wrong, and that their leader is a good, honest man with high integrity and morals. So apparently, MSN did NOT report the truth.
In New Mexico, KENN Radio reported this morning about a couple arrested for massive child abuse of their 15 children, with officers claiming sick practices and abuses, based on the “confession” of one of the children after the family was turned in by a neighbor for not giving their children an education. But one of their adult children says that the family homeschools and that the claims are false. So who do we believe?
Every day, we are bombarded with news from dozens of sources, on all sides of political and social issues. Whom do we believe? Who CAN we believe? And when?
It is more than just a matter of “fake news” – sometimes it is what is NOT reported that makes the stories different. Sometimes it is a complete lack of understanding on the part of writers and reporters that is the reason for multiple stories. And sometimes, what is left out is the most important part. Mama Liberty and I long shared our frustration over not being able to find out the “rest of the story” on so many different events about which we commented.
There is no simple answer to the question. But we can work towards finding the truth. First, we can keep an open mind, and try to find out what really happened. And why it happened. We can even (hard though it may be) give people the benefit of the doubt, at least sometimes. If it is important enough, we can go find out for ourselves.
One of the big advantages that we have over even a generation ago is that we are NOT limited to just a very limited number of sources for news (and opinion): a big-town daily, a network TV news and a network radio news “top of the hour” program. But we have to remember that it is NOT just the mainstream media that can be biased and hateful. And it is not just the accused who lie.