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President Trump is right about today’s fake news climate
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 14:04

EDITOR'S NOTE: This opinion piece was originally submitted to the Asheville Citizen Times, our local daily newspaper. In that it apparently exceeded the ACT’s word count, the offering was declined. We thought it covered an important topic of interest to our readers, and with your permission, we are running it in place of Dr. Carl Mumpower’s monthly column. He’ll be back next month with more.)


By CARL MUMPOWER
Special to the Daily Planet


Fake (fāk) Not true, real, or genuine....

 

Citizen Times reporter John Boyle recently embraced a full page defending his employer (The Asheville Citizen Times) against conservative belief in widespread liberal media bias. 

In attempting to discredit that view and the current president’s frequent “fake news” declarations, may one suggest he repeatedly illustrated our point?

Today’s mainstream media outlets can be called out with a simple coin. There’s reliably a tail on one side and a head on the other. For the same reason coins do not come with only one side, ethical journalism should not be devoted to one angle of view. That is precisely what the ACT, our local TV station and the vast majority of national mainstream media outlets do. They present one side of a coin – the liberal one – and pretend they’re giving us a full picture. One can’t consistently ignore the other side of the coin and be true, real, or genuine.

That’s why President (Donald) Trump is correct in calling out a parade of fake news marketed as something more virtuous. Most conservative thinkers agree with him.

It’s not that everything the media says is a lie. Mr. Boyle’s correct that fact-checking is something most journalists do quite well. The problem is that validating one-sided facts and leaving out inconvenient truths is insincere. That’s the same thing as going out for a gourmet meal, and ignoring provisions for the attached digestive process and subsequent call of nature. What we swallow is only half the story.

Google about any ACT or local television political piece on record. With startling consistency, there are sensationalized headlines followed by the liberal view from liberal sources and cursory or no countering commentary from the other side.  

That’s the same thing as holding an adjudication procedure and not allowing the accused to offer witnesses for the defense. You know, the same procedure unfolding in the Democrat controlled impeachment hearings.

Believing we can get to good places with only one angle of view is the same thing as driving with eyes front while ignoring traffic to the side and behind. Myopia reliably leads to the law of unintended consequences.

Further evidence of Mr. Boyle’s liberal enthusiasms came through his faultless endorsement of “gold standard” fact-checking site Snopes. He’s correct that these folks do a credible job of fulfilling their original mission of debunking urban myths. But when it comes to political matters, they’re notorious for liberal editorializing.

One can guess the why by noting the political affiliation of the news staff at the ACT, our local TV station, and, again, most every mainstream media outlet. Unlike NPR, ABC and CNN, where one can easily track a super-dominance of liberally affiliated associates, Snopes curiously chooses to hide those details. If anyone should understand the wrongness of concealing that kind of information, wouldn’t it be Snopes? When you’re the go-to fact-checking resource for Mr. Boyle and most other similarly dedicated journalists, and only have a dozen or so editorial staffers, perhaps you’re a little too busy to acknowledge the left-leaning proclivities of that staff.  

Then there’s Mr. Boyle’s issue with climate change. He’s correct that most scientists are on board the doom and gloom train when it comes to the deadly trajectory of today’s climate change models. May one suggest that this phenomenon can more surely be tracked to social science and herd instinct than hard science and fact?

Remember the turn-of-the-century dedications of every physician in America charged with “ending human suffering” and handing out “non-addictive” opiates like candy? That same herd of well-intended care-givers has now run to the opposite side of the hill and a miserly approach to pain management. How about the long-touted dangers of butter and meat that’s been displaced with vegetable oils and carbs as our deadly enthusiasms? Remember when Obama said we were going to have to adjust to economic mediocrity, high unemployment, and a lowered standard of living, and everyone believed him? That was just before we elected a conservative-minded doer working off an opposite script.

People like to be part of the herd and nowhere is this more evident than with man-made climate change. That herds are more interested in comfort than facts, their view and no other, and reliably predestined to run over anyone challenging their way, tells us much about the limits of this model.

As regards Mr. Boyle’s envious certainty on the disasters ahead, may one suggest that approach to important social issues is dangerous? One need only cursorily explore the catastrophic declarations – past and present – of folks like Al Gore, AOC, Joe Biden and Greta Thunberg to see there is a big difference in speaking with enthusiasm and speaking with accuracy.

Since the turn of the last century the planet has warmed one degree and our life expectancy has doubled. Most of the folks above will tell you that in less than a dozen years we are going to heat up a half a degree and imminently collapse our climate and culture. Mark the contradiction?

Then there’s the idea that prompt action can save us from impending disaster. If we’re willing to forget about being warm, fed, mobile, and employed, we could theoretically cut our fossil fuel emissions to zero. Per the Obama administration, that would result in a minuscule of a degree impact. Herds clearly like to herd more than they like to think – or in this case – maintain a civilized standard of living.

Mr. Boyle adds insult to his own injury by playing the always popular “pretend to be clever by poking at the President” card. Yes, I’d bet that our hard-tweeting, counter-punching, prone to exaggeration, not-into-details President tendered “10,111 false or misleading claims in 828 days.” What affirms the fakery in this story and yellow journalism credentials of most liberal media outlets (see the early part of the last century for what that is) represents the rest of the story. With absolutely no reliance of under-staffed fact-checking resources, one can promise there were no mainstream stories about this President’s true or factual claims in 828 days. Contrast what he faces with the blatant softball approach applied to his predecessor.

Though I personally believe John Boyle’s correct in noting he and his colleagues mean well, that’s not the same thing as doing well. Until our local mainstream media outlets start including the other side of the coin, they’ll continue to earn the disdain of the quiet majority of WNC residents holding firmly to the rational, common sense, and time-tested realism found in conservatism.

One of those ideals is recognition of the importance of truth as a foundation for everything that’s good. In the absence of inclusive journalism, we’re all at risk. We need our paper, news outlets and professional journalists now more than ever. But we need them to be smart, courageous, and moral enough to stop trying to seduce us with a two-headed coin.

Carl Mumpower is a psychologist and former Asheville City Council member and Buncombe Republican Party chair. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


 



 


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