2 + 2 = ?. It’s become fairly common to state that one of the problems with the professional news media is how they cover things: they report what both sides say but (often) skip reporting the truth.
One candidate says, “Two plus two equals four, but just barely. I used to think it equaled five before I decided it equaled four. However, for large values of two, or small values of five, it could still conceivably equal five. Or, if you redefine five as the sum of two twos, then it would equal five, yes. I performed addition for my country as a young man and I will perform it now.”
And another candidate says, “Two plus two equals five. Simple as that. To say that it equals four is to have a pre-9/11 mindset.”
How do you report on that? You can report what the candidates say. You could also report that two plus two does indeed equal four, but then you have the whole critique-of-objective-reality thing to deal with, so you skip it.
During my own journalism training (college newspaper, early ’90s) I was taught to discard the idea of an unbiased, objective reality. I was taught that there was no such thing as truth: there are only points of view, and it was my job to present the points of view. Forget objectivity, it’s impossible, was the lesson. Instead we had “fairness.”
In other words, there is no truth, there is only what people say.
Here are my questions:
1. Is this wrong?
2. How did we get here?
3. How can we fix it? [inessential.com]
1. It's almost always wrong. The only time the news media's approach is accurate is when reporting on the opinions of two different people or groups. However, it's very rare for a story to actually be about just opinions. More often it's about some event, and in such cases the media will ignore what actually happened in favor reporting what various people say happened.
2. I think the media got that way because reporters are so ignorant and lazy. They have no choice but to report what both side say without comment, because they know nothing about whatever the sides are talking about, and aren't interested in doing the research to find out.
3. It's not something that can be fixed. Fortunately, there's no need. The web makes it possible to read informed reports written by people who actually know something about the subject, and to do their own research.