When the liars keep on lying
August 27, 2012 1 Comment
Another great piece on journalism in the post-truth world from Jay Rosen. I really need to bookmark this guy. I found this link from a journalist FB friend who recommended it despite “not always agreeing with Rosen” (I suspect because she is very savvy).
Anyway, Rosen discusses the problem that know that all the factchecks have called out Romney for flat-out lying about Obama and welfare he is still flat-out lying. With no shame. That’ s not how its supposed to work. After everybody tags you “pants on fire” you’re supposed to dial it back. But not Romney. Problem is, journalists don’t know how to handle this. Rosen:
But suppose there arose on the contemporary political scene a practical caucus for the opposite view. We are entitled to our own facts, and we will show you what we think of your attempt to “check” us. If that happened, would the press know what to do? …
Alec MacGillis of The New Republic has a simpler answer to, “Entire news media called Romney’s welfare attack a lie. Campaign still pushing it. Now what?”
Using whatever platform you have, speak up about it. If they keep using it, you keep speaking! His plea: “for the political press to do its job when it comes to the basic task of calling out blatant, repeated dishonesty on the campaign trail.”…
So that’s what MacGillis recommends. Journalists should be willing to look squarely into the camera–or the equivalent in textual terms–and declare things “completely false” when their own judgment tells them so. That isn’t a moment you can outsource to fact-checkers. It’s a “which side are you on?” kind of thing. Are you with the people who think “you’re not entitled to your own facts,” or those who say: Wait a minute, maybe you are. #
David Bernstein, that DC bureau chief who wrote to me, Michael Scherer, Alex MacGillis are all realizing that mainstream political journalism offers no clear instructions to its people about what to do in this situation. The only “pack” response available is to do nothing. But nothing isn’t working. So which side are you on? becomes unavoidable for people who thought there would never come a day when they had to choose sides.
So, journalists, which side are you on? Okay, well, they don’t care about my rhetorical questions. As consumers of journalism, though, we definitely should be choosing to read journalists and publications who are on the side of truth, not “controversy.” None are perfect, but some are a lot better than others. And there’s a reason I never read Politico.