Dave Olsen: Keep our focus on the truth
December 15, 2017
In his recent column, "Welcome to the upside down," The Union's publisher, Don Rogers, bemoans the fact that the New York Times has skewed their coverage of our president to include reporting as news when his statements aren't based on facts, preferring that information to be restricted to the op-ed page as conjecture since it apparently reflects bias on the part of the Times.
This would be a valid criticism save for one overwhelming reality: the president continually says things which are demonstrably not true (see this story at TheUnion.com for documentation). This implies that Mr. Trump is either a) woefully misinformed or under-informed (a distinct possibility — this is a president who cherishes the low-information voter), or b) he's intentionally lying.
The tell here of course is that counter-arguments to his falsehoods, no matter how well documented by reputable new sources are discounted by him as "fake news."
Rogers goes on to paint other presidents with the same disregard for the strict truth, and I think we can all agree that Nixon had his "I'm not a crook" moment, as did Obama with his "you can keep your doctor if you want to" gaffe on the ACA, Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman" and Bush 43's justification for our continuing adventure in Iraq was built upon as yet unverified WMD claims. There comes a point, however, when the sheer number of false or misleading pronouncements from our president suggest at best a disregard for the intelligence of the citizenry he represents or at worst a pathology that should at minimum elicit concern given the power inherent in his office.
As we watch Congress wrestle with reforming our tax structure it behooves us to keep in mind that the standards for truth ... are more important than ever.
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Finally, Rogers criticizes the Washington Post's deconstruction of an attempt by Project Veritas, James O'Keefe's "investigative" organization which attempted to plant a story of a woman falsely accusing Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore of abuse, with the apparent goal of undermining those Moore victims who have already come forward. It seems that Rogers finds this account to be informative but a little too self-congratulatory for his taste and better suited to the opinion page.
As we watch Congress wrestle with reforming our tax structure it behooves us to keep in mind that the standards for truth (does anyone really believe that the president won't benefit from the Republican plan as he claims?) are more important than ever.
Mr. Trump has already spoken of reforming the "welfare system" most certainly to pay for those tax cuts he is touting, with the obvious candidates for reform being Medicare and Social Security, as specifically echoed by Senator Marco Rubio in a Financial Services Roundtable discussion this week. Given the demographic readership of The Union, you may want to follow this, Mr. Rogers.
The legitimacy of our government lies in its transparency and its regard for the truth, and it is a free and unfettered media, which is entrusted with assuring that those qualities are upheld as enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution. Indeed, that is why it is the First Amendment.
Let's keep that laser focus on the truth front and center on these pages and throughout our media.
Dave Olsen lives in Nevada City.
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