Wednesday December 27, 2017
Some politicians have turned truth on its head, spreading doubts about the accuracy of news reporting by arguing that the mainstream media produces "fake news." Using a sinister phrase dating to the French Revolution and embraced by Lenin and his Soviet successors, they have declared that the press is the "enemy of the people."
This year we had Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, introducing the notion of "alternative facts." Few people believe that provable facts have contradictory alternatives. There is no alternative to the fact that the sun is 93 million miles from Earth, nor to the fact that our atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen, nor even to the fact that President Donald Trump's Inauguration Day crowd was smaller than Barack Obama's.
History is filled with moments when the truth was hidden. Some examples are the misleading claims about the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin episode that drew the United States into Vietnam; the repeated deceptions of the 1970s Watergate scandal; President Bill Clinton's 1998 denials of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky; and the false belief that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said, "The responsibility of the press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
Richard A. Weiherer
No alternative to provable facts