Alternative facts, the truth, and making it right

By Reade Brower | Mar 16, 2017

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

--- Hermann Göring, Nazi military leader (1893-1946)

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The press has been continually maligned by our new president and his staff, who seem to want to take the focus off truth more than they want the truth to be presented front and center.

Their agenda has less to do with fact-checking than with using this notion of “false news” to misdirect the bigger conversation around whether the administration has done anything improper when it comes to Russia and to take the heat off the administration's push to keep out immigrants and to further its goal of more deportations.

During the Oscars, a guffaw worthy of a 10, on a scale of 1 to 10, occurred when presenter for “Best Picture” Warren Beatty, mumbling and looking befuddled, awkwardly shifted what he thought was the winner envelope to his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway, who then read “La La Land,” even though it was the wrong name.

With “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz finishing up his acceptance speech, Oscar officials milled around him, recognizing that a mistake had been made. As Beatty remained frozen and host Jimmy Kimmel stood by helplessly inert, Horowitz took charge and looked at the bewildered audience and said; “There’s been a mistake” and, while holding up the correct winner's envelope, finished his sentence by announcing, “Moonlight, Best Picture.”

Assuring the audience and the "Moonlight" team that this was “not a joke,” he then called them up to the stage and presented the award to them himself. While not worthy of a Nobel Prize, it was, in itself, an act extraordinary in its diplomacy.

Rather than pouting or lamenting about what had just happened, Horowitz seized the moment and simply did the right thing. It was extremely gracious, but what I liked more was that it was “real.” Horowitz honored the truth and stood up immediately after learning about the mistake, showing us that character matters and that character can single-handedly trump a mistake.

A mistake may be different than a lie or an alternative truth, but in the end we need to see that what matters most is getting it right. Mistakes happen; to disparage the messenger seems less important than making it right and moving forward with integrity.

To circle this back to the mainstream press, I do not believe the press makes things up in an effort to get misinformation out to the public. Rather, like the Oscars, sometimes reporters get duped, other times reporters are over-zealous, but for the most part, we serve our readers and the public with integrity and character, while following a code of fact-checking that is both rigorous and righteous.

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Speaking of the press, it is worth noting the obvious: the press and Pres. Donald Trump have an odd-couple relationship.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote that “Donald Trump only pretends to hate the media.” She maintained that the president “could not live without the press. It is his crack cocaine.”

She continued, if you need proof of how “obsessed” he is, look at his Trump Tower office which is “plastered with framed magazine covers reflecting his face back at him like an infinite mirror.” As a promoter whose like has not been seen since P.T. Barnum, Trump is, as he is in many facets of his life, his own worst enemy.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the press stopped writing about Trump and putting him on their covers? Trump might protest too much about unfair coverage, but it seems more plausible that he believes in the maxim, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

I don’t believe that to be true, but doesTrump?

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During the election, candidate Trump said that Caitlin Jenner could use any bathroom she wanted at Trump Tower. Now, as Pres. Trump, he has acquiesced and is giving states the “right” to legislate discrimination when it comes to transgender rights to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender choice.

While some conservatives, and those on the religious right, rejoice and argue that they don’t want their children subjected to a transgender person, I can only wonder why they are not concerned about same-sex pedophiles and just plain “weirdos” in public bathrooms. Transgender people might be different, but they are not any more dangerous than the general populace.

Common sense begs the question; “Can’t we just give this a rest?”

A T-shirt sighted in North Carolina said it all; “I don’t care what bathroom you use; just wash your hands.”

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