Friday, January 17, 2020 -
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Whither truth?

In concluding his review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century, the editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, wrote: “ . . . it is probably fair to say that the cacophony of today’s media — in which rumor and invective often outpace truth-testing, in which shouting heads drown out sober reflection, in which it is possible for people to feel fully informed without ever encountering an opinion that contradicts their prejudices — plays some role in the polarizing of our politics, the dysfunction of our political system and the increased cycnicism of the American electorate.” Right. And the reverse is true: To the extent that politicians and others will read newspapers and magazines more, and see short texts and sound bites less, then sober reflection, diversity of opinion and truth-seeking will reenter our political system.

Please take note, President Obama. In speaking at Hampton University last week, you said that information is becoming a “form of entertainment rather than a tool of empowerment . . . all of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and our democracy      . . . ” Right. So, Mr. President, lead the way by resorting to op-eds and newspaper interviews more, and to Internet communiques and TV clips less, so that, in your own words in the same speech, people can more clearly “sift through it all . . . know what to believe . . . figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not.”

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