Friday, March 10, 2017

The Importance of Fact Based News to Combat Trump's Lies

Love and truth are the best weapons we have to resist Trump. This is about love for America's democracy and exposing the dark truth of this administration's efforts to destroy it. It is the exclusion of vast swaths of people that give tyrants their power. We need to provide a platform for competing views and we must also expose lies. As long as false narratives are allowed to flourish we are doomed to fall prey to the dystopia of the Trump administration.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Trump's narrative is the false insinuation that the media is treating him and his administration unfairly. This is blatantly untrue if anything the media has failed to expose all of this administration's lies (however, there are so many lies that it is impossible to challenge each and every non-factual statement).  To help advance false narratives over fact-based reporting Trump has begun to shut down press access.

Here is a list of 117 lies Trump has told as president and another list of lies he told on the campaign trail. Lies about the scientific veracity of climate change are a prominent example of the litany of lies coming from this administration. Earlier this week EPA chief Scott Pruitt denied the scientific basis of climate change.

We must fight for the truth, however, those who support the facts are losing the battle as revealed by public opinion polls. The public no longer trusts mainstream media and this has serious implications for America's democracy.  A new IBD/TIPP poll reveals that 55 percent of the American public have grown "weary from the media's persistently negative coverage of President Trump."

The IBD poll results:
  • 88 percent of Republicans say they're weary of the "relentless negativity"
  • 55 percent of independents say they're weary of the "negative coverage"
  • 54 percent moderates say they're weary of the "negative coverage"
  • 54 percent believe the media have "assumed the role of the opposition party, constantly opposing the president and his policies at every turn"
The coverage of Trump is decidely negative. The nonpartisan group Media Tenor found that only 3 percent of network news stories in the first month of the Trump administration could be described as positive. While the majority of news coverage of the Trump administration is negative, many do not appreciate that this negativity is warranted. It is also consistent with the role of the press to challenge this government, just as they have challenged previous governments. The difference is that the current administration gives them far more fodder.

Trump has made maligning the press a key feature of his communications efforts. The reason why Trump wants people to hate traditional media is that he wants to control the narrative. This allows Trump and his administration to advance perspectives that support their agenda. For example, more Americans now think that Islamic terror groups are a more serious threat to American interests than Russia (41 percent compared to 27 percent).

Traditional media must take some of the blame for the public's failure to see through Trump's lies. As reported by the Green Market Oracle:
"Traditional media is not blameless, they are at fault but not in the way that Trump suggests. Traditional media served up a sensationalist, low-fact diet that fattened the anti-science politics of our age. It is not overstating the case to say that they have helped to create the right conditions to allow a pathological liar to become the president of the United States."
While traditional media is imperfect, conservative media is a farce. Just a couple of days ago former CIA director Michael Hayden exposed the deceit of conservative media calling some of them "illegitimate" and "non-fact based." Those who believe in the truth must confront such post factual media.

Despite the failings of traditional media, they are essential to exposing the lies of this administration. However, they are not alone. Citizen journalists and concerned people have a crucial role to play. Those who are engaged in this struggle for truth know that Trump's lies must be challenged. Failure to do so imperils America's great democratic traditions.

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