Journalists Must Report the Truth

Without spin.

President Donald J. Trump speaks to reporters outside the South Portico entrance of the White House Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to attend the Alabama Crimson Tide-Louisiana State University Tigers football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

One of the positive byproducts of the Donald J. Trump presidency has been the new/old tendency of the U.S. media to zealously report the news, if only accidentally, in an attempt to refute every word Donald Trump says.

They are perfectly right to do so: What the world needs now, is facts.

The problem most conservatives have with the mainstream media’s current Trump-O-Mania is that the lack of a similarly curious press during the Obama administration.

This failure directly led to Democrats completely missing the woes of the working-class Democrats who, after voting twice for Obama, handed Donald Trump the last election.

The frank truth would have been that many Democrats were deeply disappointed in President Obama. Liberal progressives were disappointed in what he managed to accomplish while in office and what he didn’t manage.

Many liberal progressives expected the U.S. to be involved in fewer wars, fewer drone-strikes, and fewer deportations. Some Democrats expected that fewer people would be incarcerated for marijuana crimes.

Most Democrats also expected the economy to perform better than it did during the Obama years. That he inherited a recession from the Bush years only went so far in an electorate that had bled jobs for a decade, especially in the manufacturing sector, and relegated far too many working-class people to the unemployment line.

That these things failed to come to pass shouldn’t have been glossed over or ignored, or even blamed on Republicans; had these issues been fearlessly addressed, even by a Hillary Clinton campaign pledging to fix these them, Donald Trump might not be president today.

Instead, journalists during the Obama administration were lulled by a skilled political orator, a history-maker with an impeccable Democratic profile and an inspiring story. Democrats concerned today about the “cult of Donald Trump” are only echoes of conservatives during the Obama administration, lamenting the raised celebrity profile of a President who rubbed elbows with Beyonce and Jay-Z in the White House.

The press went gaga; just admit it. They loved President Barack Obama and it felt good to love him. Thing is, Barack Obama, as photogenic as he was and is, was still a politician. Journalists should not love politicians, and should certainly not admit it if they do.

Smart journalists examining what went wrong for all the political prognosticators in 2016 can admit that the press’ love affair with the perfect Obama family led to huge blindspots that contributed to Trump’s stunning upset of Hillary Clinton.

As we head into the 2020 election, the mainstream press- with every intent of protecting Democrats, Democratic electability, and Democratic interests from the evil they believe Donald Trump still represents for the country- are repeating these same glaring mistakes.

The activist journalists of today frequently worry about how the facts they report will be perceived by the public at large. They worry about the impact to marginalized groups in society. They harbor deep concerns that their reporting will be used to bolster the arguments of a political party they don’t happen to agree with.

The truth is the truth. It isn’t political.

Pretending the public can’t handle the truth, or pretending that the truth can somehow be covered up, especially in the Information Age, is insulting.

Just look at what happened to ABC: In an effort to protect Bill and Hillary Clinton, ABC quashed the story about serial sex-offender and now-notorious pedophile Jeffery Epstein in 2016 when Democrats were particularly vulnerable. In the fullness of time, after the truth has come out, this revelation hurts Democrats even more at a time when they are even more vulnerable.

Unless you have a crystal-ball, there is simply no way to predict the long term impact of the facts you present to the public or hide from the public.

It is not the role of journalists, nor can it be, to censor the news in order to shape public opinion for the greater good.

If journalists really care about shaping public opinion for the greater good, a complete and unbiased view will usually show any political or social issue as so complex, so nuanced and unique, it is almost impossible not to understand the issue from every “side”.

Now, it may be true that this type of reporting doesn’t glue as many eyeballs to space where advertisements can be displayed; this is why people watch FOX or CNN instead of CSPAN.

It is the journalist’s job, not to anger or incite, but to simply present the full information. If the facts anger or incite, they must be changed by the parties who can be responsible for changing them. This group does not usually include journalists. Asking journalists to turn a blind eye changes nothing.

But by failing to report the facts as they happen, leaving certain things out for fear of influencing public perception, the left-leaning media presents the idea that conservatives believe as they do based on nothing- that their aberrant and barely human views have been shaped by no reason at all.

And if their views haven’t been shaped by reason or by reasons, they must be inherently evil people. Admitting the full facts into the public purview helps the left and right, progressives and conservatives, understand each other better.

If given all the facts, people will still come to different conclusions. This is due not only to individual differences but also each person’s unique confirmation bias.

This tendency to seek out and remember information that reinforces our existing beliefs translates into a real-life set of blinders to any contrary information that might change our minds.

Most of us don’t want to change our minds for a simple reason: We already think we’re right. If we thought we were wrong, our minds would already have been changed.

Inconvenient facts that don’t fit an accepted world purview are easy to ignore if they come from an untrustworthy source. If news outlets can’t be counted upon to deliver fully factual and nuanced coverage of U.S. news and world events without bias, news outlets can’t expect to sway anyone’s opinions.

News outlets have made themselves too easy to dismiss.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)