Even opinions should have basis in actual facts

Published 7:36 am Monday, September 13, 2010

I believe wholeheartedly that all of us have the right to express our opinions, but the letter in Thursday’s Tribune criticizing Jim Crawford’s most recent article, “How Do We Know What To Believe?” didn’t express the writer’s opinions.

Instead, it listed widely-circulated falsehoods from mass e-mailings and right-wing Web sites. I realize it isn’t The Tribune’s job to fact-check letters to the editor, but this particular letter was an especially egregious example of the misuse of an opinion page.

For example, the writer wished to remind Mr. Crawford that the president wrote in his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” the following words: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

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The only place in which those words can actually be found is in a mass e-mailing, a list of “quotes” from Obama’s books that are either entirely made up or drastically altered to make them sound sinister, un-American or anti-Christian.

I don’t doubt for a moment that the writer of this letter believes that every word of it is true, but it’s wrong to provide a forum for this kind of viral misinformation, although it is entertaining in its own way.

I especially enjoyed the writer’s characterization of the president as both a Muslim and a liberal, a pretty rare combo. Still, I think an opinion page should be confined to opinion.

Leave the dissemination of disinformation to FOX News.

Abby Fowler