“If it is not true, why was it on the news ?”

If it is not true, why was it on the news ?”

 A very good question.

One worth exploring carefully.

The news is gathered by human beings, most of whom wish to report the facts and figures, the statements and events of the day, and of the nation and the world, accurately to their listeners, viewers and readers.

Those reporters and correspondents all have their own ideas as to what is news, what is trivia, what is chaff, and what is propaganda.

Most try to separate the facts from the chaff.

Some less conscientiously than others.

The best try to reasonably present both sides of the issues that come up from time to time, and not let their personal opinions color what they are reporting. They assume that the viewer, the reader or the listener is smart enough and intelligent enough to sort out the details and assess the validity of issue orientated news. (Unfortunately, this is not always true.)

There is a problem that fairness creates.

Very often, those who gather and present news items, in an effort to be fair and balanced, present two sides of an issue as if they were both equally likely to be factual, when in fact one side is mostly fluff.

This is often called “false equivalence.” (Reacting as if two comments or responses are equivalent and that one balances or counters the other )

On occasion, that “fluff” contains simple incorrect statements, possibly honesty intended, but still major distortions, and worse sometimes outright lies.

A few news sources make no such effort at fairness and actively distort what they provide in an effort to support one side or another.

It is up to the intelligent part of the populace, the interested electorate, and actually the boys and girls who four or five years from now will have to live with the results of political and diplomatic decisions being made this year, especially in an election year, to watch what is presented and sort out the truth and falsity of the various statements.

Political statements are very often slanted to present the information likely to affect the politician’s future plans, previous actions and opinions, in as a favorable a light as possible. However, slanting details frequently leads to distortion and that can easily grow into outright lies.

If news reporters do not correctly detect and point out what is false and what is not, we all have to pay attention and decide for ourselves what is true and what is not.

As the interested citizen does this, he or she will discover who are the truth tellers, who are the politically partisan, and learn to assess just how likely a presented statement is to be true, to be grossly exaggerated, to be completely false or to be factual, but, taken separately from the speaker’s context,  giving a false picture of the original meaning intended.

In recent years, certain news presenters have habitually shown video clips of one simple statement from a longer speech or statement by itself in a way that totally reverses the speaker’s meaning.

Once that is detected, we have discovered why, “something is in the news but still is false”.

It should not take very long to also realize that certain news organizations simply cannot be trusted and that any controversial video clip that they present has to be examined very carefully, and its context, the parts immediately before and immediately after, examined to see if someone was trimming the film clip to alter the information to favor one partisan side or another.

Doing this is all a part of becoming an informed intelligent citizen.

What is important is that we recognize these things and become aware of them as they unfold. During an election year there are many partisan commercials that are produced by often unscrupulous supporters of one or another candidate or about some issue to be decided at the next election.  With the expansion of the internet, almost any claim or allegation can be checked with but a few clicks of the mouse. And even here partisan operators, having discovered that things can be checked, have also learned how to manipulate Google and other search engines so that comments that support some candidates position are listed first in a search. And some such supporting references are even planted, but with a little practice a searcher can bypass the tainted sources and find the original statements or reports that are being quoted.

It all boils down to the duty of each and every citizen to be alert and attentive. Those who brightly state, “”Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,” may someday discover that their chance to influence elections and the results has slipped away.

And then what ???

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