A very good and interesting piece from Matthew Continetti:
Events are turning me into a radical skeptic. I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past. I no longer have confidence in polls, because it has become impossible to separate the signal from the noise. What I have heard from the media and political class over the last several years has been so spectacularly proven wrong by events, again and again, that I sometimes wonder why I continue to read two newspapers a day before spending time following journalists on Twitter. Habit, I guess. A sense of professional obligation, I suppose. Maybe boredom…
I’ve been saying that for a while, myself. But I’m rather late to the game. Here’s another view:
It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority. –G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross
As I’ve said before, even when journalism is trying to get it right, it really can’t. As Chesterton noted, it only concerns itself with the small number of people who do something odd or have something odd done to them. But it’s even a bit worse than that – because of time and space limitations, journalism can’t give us the full story even of these small slices of human life. Even the most intrepid and honest reporter simply won’t be able to give us all the facts. Outside that, the real problem comes in when the journalist is not being intrepid or honest – when he is just mouthing a line designed to serve a particular end and dressing it up as honest journalism. This is where we are today – in a world where hardly anyone is even trying to report it straight. Everyone’s got an agenda.
It must be remembered that you don’t have to push entirely false information to push an agenda. You can have a whole bunch of true things in there, even if you are trying to get across the most monstrous of lies (such as, for instance, the lie that Hillary was even remotely qualified to be President, let alone the allegedly most qualified person, ever). In fact, the more true stuff you can squeeze in there, the better – makes it harder to attack the main lie. But as I’ve also said before, if you add a ounce of lie to a pound of truth, what you’ve got is all lie. The two things just don’t mix. In the end, you are either telling the truth, or you are telling a lie…there is no half-truth, there is no white-lie.
The bottom line, for me, is that I simply do not believe what I’m reading unless I can ascertain a demonstrable fact…and even then I must be able to fit it all into a coherent worldview, informed by my knowledge of history. Skepticism is a requirement these days – you simply can’t take what is said in the media immediately at face value. It has to be checked – and it has to be pondered. Does it make sense? For instance, in that Georgia House race…we were told, endlessly, that the Democrat was a little ahead and that Democrat enthusiasm was at a huge peak…well, in the end, the Democrat lost by 4 percentage points and didn’t get any more votes than the Democrat had in 2016. It was a gigantic nothingburger from start to finish. I was confident all along the GOPer would win – because there was nothing real which would indicate that a GOP-leaning district was going to repudiate the GOP and Donald Trump. I believed this because I didn’t find any facts to dispute it and all my knowledge indicated it would be like that. But there we went, for weeks people salivating over it…and pouring in untold millions of dollars based upon reports which were simply false.
It is rather sad that it has to be this way – and the fix for it would be easy, and quick. All the MSM would have to do is report things straight for just a few weeks and their credibility would be restored. They won’t do it, at least not any time soon, because most of them are committed to the Progressive cause and all of them are fearful of the wrath of the Progressive gate-keepers if they step out of line. So, for now, all we can be is skeptics.