Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Just Because You Agree With It Doesn’t Make It True

At church the other day, I got to listen to a presentation about truth and how to find it.

Honestly, it wasn’t the most coherent lecture I’ve ever listened to. Being a professional editor, I wanted to find the speaker’s outline and rearrange the whole thing.

Yet it did start out with a really interesting political cartoon of a woman asking, “How do you know if a news story is true?” and a man replying, “If I agree with it.”

Too often, that really is the way we define truth. If we’re conservative, we accept everything on Fox News or the Drudge Report. If we’re liberal, all we do is watch CNBC and CNN.

Either way, it’s dangerous.

For example, on the Drudge Report this morning, the headline: “McConnell, Ryan Back CIA over Trump” caught my attention. Considering how little I think of Republican leadership these days – with solid, fact-backed reasons, might I add – I instantly got up on a high horse.

And then had to climb right back down.

Because that headline didn’t present the facts in a truly honest fashion. It didn’t so much lie as mislead, probably because it doesn’t care for the Republican establishment either.

Again, there’s good reason to think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan would kowtow to Democrat demands or play it unacceptably safe to maintain political power. They’ve done it plenty of times before.

But that doesn’t make it right to condemn them when it’s not actually deserved… rather like seems to be the case now.

The Bloomberg article the Drudge Report linked to does have the headline: “McConnell, Ryan Back CIA After Trump Attacks Hacking Probe.” But that’s misleading too considering that it’s followed immediately by two snippet summations, the first being that “GOP leaders caution against casting doubt on election outcome.”

The actual piece then opens up by saying that both “top Republicans in Congress offered strong support for the intelligence community Monday” and yes, it was “in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on the CIA.” However, “both leaders also warned against using the issue for partisan gain or casting doubt on the outcome of the election.”

There’s a difference between disagreeing with Trump and “back[ing the] CIA over Trump” – a heavily implied one, at the very least.

If I had stuck with the Drudge Report headline, I would have been ticked off for no real good reason… I would have been in error. And that’s a problem.

Because it doesn’t matter whether I instantly agree with it or not. It matters if it’s true.

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