Remember day truth died
Where were you the day the truth finally died in American politics? Do you remember the day the same way some remember where they were the day President Kennedy was assassinated? On the day of the first moon landing?
There were signs along the way, warning that the truth was in trouble, slowing heart beats protecting the truth from assaults in the media, in the speeches of public officials. But the signs were ignored and the truth took more and more hits.
The death of the truth began so quietly. There was, once in our past, just the news, gathered and disseminated by professionals across the planet, largely people trained in journalism to fact check, source confirm, and report news that could and would stand the test of challenges.
But in the midst of this long honored custom of reporting came the advent of AM radio talk radio, where entertainment mixed itself with truth in ways never intended by truth. The popularity of this imaginative truth propelled the new media in ways never before considered likely or possible.
About the same time came Republican TV and news, where facts began to take the shape of a particular political viewpoint, a viewpoint never intended to be objective, never planned to apply the standards once revered by schools of journalism. Republican TV took the name of Fox News with the all too humorous tag line “We report, you decide”.
Yet even then the truth had no idea how fatal the attacks upon its very foundation were to be. For the “alternative truth” that gained life and breathe from radio and TV designed to position truth as little more than a prop to advance an argument designed to modify the very core of truth to the new master of politics.
Did the truth die then? With the power of Fox and AM radio? Not entirely, for it was not until the Republican primaries for the presidential election of 2016 that truth was finally, fatally, mortally wounded and left to bleed out on the curb.
When was the exact moment when truth was entirely abandoned once and forever? Maybe it was when Carly Florina described in explicit detail the horrific abortion of a fully developed fetus, an abortion that upon research by the old news searching for evidence and fact found the story to be absolutely fact free. When challenged by the old media Florina stood before the cameras and insisted the invisible, non-existent video, was indeed out there somewhere even though no advocate or enemy could locate the invisible video.
Or maybe the final death of truth was when Donald Trump has CNN both quote him and play a video of him making an argument only to have Trump look into the camera and say that never happened. Who knew that a day would come when quotes and video clips would be unable to withstand the assault from one so bold as to claim evidence was such a slim reed that it held no sway.
Regardless of when the final moment came, when truth expired forever in political debate, that moment has arrived nothing can put this Pandora back in the box.
Never again can fact check matter, can evidence hold sway with those who simply care not so much for fact. Can we blame an audience who no longer demands fact for their willingness to succumb? Of course. But should we not at least hold as accountable those who truly discard the inconvenience of fact to advance political argument of dubious merit? Absolutely.
We are left, as citizens hoping for effective governing by those who for candidate themselves for public office, to discount the prospective contributions of those who discard truth in favor of fiction. We should, at the very least, mock their efforts to sustain the death of the truth.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.