Home » Truth and Journalism: Lessons from CNN’s Townhall Meeting

Truth and Journalism: Lessons from CNN’s Townhall Meeting

by Cathy Brown
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Regardless of a number of the darkish facet of my background (a long-term penal incarceration, for instance), I can nonetheless discuss each fact and journalism.

In my lifetime, I’ve been the recipient of the George Polk, ABA Silver Gavel, Robert F. Kennedy, and Sidney Hillman journalism awards. I’m the co-author of two books and my writings have appeared in regulation journals, medical journals, magazines, and newspapers. My writing has additionally appeared in the identical format with Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Invoice Moyers, and Cornell West. I shared an ABC Nightline program, hosted by Ted Koppel, with the late Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, Warren Burger.

That must be license sufficient to talk about the topic of fact and journalism.

Writing, journalism, historical past and expertise have taught me that truth is not permanent; that it evolves with data gained by way of analysis—most of the time, scientific analysis.

Earlier than Donald Trump took to his aptly named right-leaning social media platform, Reality Social on Tuesday to blast his ex-press secretary and now Fox Information host, Kellian McEnany for knowingly giving “flawed” ballot numbers on the hole between him and his new presidential marketing campaign opponent Ron Desantis, Trump was aside of a city corridor.

The Could 13, 2023, CNN “city corridor assembly” with a former president ought to train American society that social media, totalitarian political figures, racist ideologies, and a resurgence of patently false conspiracy theories (which have at all times lurked within the underbelly of America) have during the last decade or so put fact in a state of perpetual decay.

The RAND Company defines “fact decay” as “the diminishing position of information and evaluation in American public life.”

RAND says fact decay happens as a result of:

  1. Growing disagreement about information
  2. A blurring of the road between opinion and truth;
  3. The growing relative quantity and ensuing affect of opinion over truth; and
  4. Declining belief in previously revered sources of information.

Historic and social truths should not at all times a dependable metric for measuring precise fact.

The victor in struggle and social conflicts assumes the appropriate to document historic and social truths within the eye of the beholder—recordings which might be seldom grounded in actuality or truth.

Turkey to today denies it dedicated the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in World Struggle I—some by way of massacres, some by way of hunger, and others by way of pressured marches.

The Armenian genocide is a worldwide accepted “fact” besides in Turkey the place greater than a century later the nation says a genocide didn’t happen within the struggle battle with a demise rely that is quite a bit fewer than what the remainder of the world has calculated.

The lesson right here is: fact is usually polluted by the passage of time, embellished by way of oral historical past, and corrupted by political energy.

Thus, journalists ought to by no means settle for historic and social fact as truth by relying on one supply. Reality, like a diamond, have to be dug from the bottom up.

Journalism should return to what Carl Bernstein described as “supply journalism”—reliance upon individuals and entities to assemble information slightly than a dependence upon social media, comparable to Wikipedia, to truth collect.

A journalist talking to a “particular person supply” can rapidly confirm if the particular person has a private or political agenda within the dissemination of knowledge. That’s why info gained from a “particular person supply” ought to, and should, be corroborated by one other, unbiased supply.

A “narrative fact” in journalism, to be dependable, have to be formulated by way of as a lot fact-based info as doable, totally examined and analyzed by way of the journalist’s personal logic and purpose, and assembled freed from any subjective emotions and private biases the journalist might have.

Reality-seeking, whether or not in journalism or scientific analysis, begins with rational, logical questions from the reality seeker.

Leo Tolstoy as soon as stated that, “fact, like gold, is to be obtained not by its development, however by washing away from all of it that’s not gold.”

Questions result in the reality.

It takes mental potential and braveness for a journalist, or a researcher, to put apart their subjective notions of fact and search the reality by way of questions from dependable, unbiased sources. As Tolstoy instructed, wash away all that’s not fact, no matter its particular person affect, and report all that’s true.

CNN’s “This Morning” host Kaitlan Collins courageously tried to do this in a Could 13 atmosphere that was not solely unreceptive however overtly hostile to the reality, as evidenced by the gang’s derisive laughter and loud hand-clapping.

An offended crowd can’t think about, a lot much less see the reality.

The January 6 rebellion crowd demanded “cling Mike Pence” primarily based on a lie that he had a constitutional energy that he didn’t possess. The Pence lie served a goal that fact couldn’t.

It has been stated in quite a few arenas that the seek for fact begins with self-reflection. It has additionally been stated that fact lies within the core of philosophy, comparable to the good trio of Greek philosophers, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle.

In different phrases, the seek for fact begins inside and expands outward—a fact-gathering path that results in a dependable conclusion. Reality is rarely present in what “must be” however in “what’s.”

The frequent saying “it’s what it’s” is a good gauge of the reality – a damaged toe is a damaged toe, no matter how a lot we want it to easily be a bruised toe.

In an actual sense, there could be no mixing of what must be and what’s.

Daniel Webster as soon as stated that “there may be nothing so highly effective as fact – and infrequently so unusual.”

That’s exactly why truth-telling calls for braveness, a capability to talk and report, “it’s what it’s.”

In his 1949 novel 1984, George Orwell wrote: “Struggle is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Power.”

America should determine if that is the type of dystopian society it needs to be—up is down, dropping is successful, and evening is day. A type of society during which “it’s what it’s” is changed by “it’s what we are saying it’s.”

In 1710, Jonathan Swift warned that: “Falsehoods flies, and fact comes limping after it, in order that when males come to be undeceived, it’s too late …”

Source / Picture: thecrimereport.org

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