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Fake News

April 8, 2018

Edward R. Murrow (1947), Source CBS Radio (PD as published in US 1923-1977 without copyright notice)

“American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst.  To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.  It is as simple as that.”

-Journalist, Edward R. Murrow, testifying before a Congressional Committee (May 1963)

The renowned journalist, Edward R. Murrow, said that about his profession a half century ago.  But it no longer seems to apply.  The line between fact and opinion, truth and falsehood, in journalism and government has been blurred to such an extent that we can no longer distinguish one from the other.

The consequences for our democracy will be dire.

News Bias

Americans may prefer to believe what sounds appealing and confirms their worldview.  Liberals can choose news with a liberal bias; conservatives can choose news with a conservative slant.  Truth, we are told, is relative.  Image, we are told, is everything.

But reality has a nasty way of making its presence known.

And facts matter.  We determine public policy based upon them…at least, we once did.  Now it appears that lobbyists determine how we allocate billions of taxpayer dollars – facts be damned!

Historical Truth

“Today, and every day from now on, we will be with you from America to talk about the war… The news may be good or bad for us – We will always tell you the truth.”

-Pledge by Voice of America, official international broadcaster of the US Federal Government

Did the Holocaust actually take place?  Edward R. Murrow confirmed from Buchenwald concentration camp that it did.  Radio broadcasts by the Voice of America sustained the French Resistance during WWII, and those behind the Iron Curtain in the decades afterward.

But historical truth is another thing we are losing.

Dictatorships and the Credibility of the Press

We may argue over what facts mean, what they signify.  But we ought to be able to agree on what they are.

Only dictatorships have to fake election results, fabricate the news, and undermine the credibility of the press to make themselves look better than they are.

“We are living in a fake-news era.”

-Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad who has used chemical weapons, torture, and mass execution against his own people [1][4]

“[The media] spread lots of false versions, lots of lies.  This is what we call ‘fake news’ today, isn’t it?  The era of post-truth.”

-Venezuelan Pres. Nicholas Maduro who has censored, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered his critics [2][5A, B, and C]

“I am not saying that all are fake pictures, but some of them are and there have been a lot of alternative facts and fake news.”

-Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, after photographs surfaced showed riot police clubbing Catalan voters, manhandling old women at polling stations, and firing rubber bullets at protesters [3]

That has not been the American way.  It is certainly not the way to “make America great again,” by anyone’s definition.

An Age of Confusion

“We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria.  Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.”

-Journalist, Edward R. Murrow, This I Believe radio broadcast (1951)

Should Christians view this confusion as important?  After all, it relates to temporal matters.  The Bible has a few things to say about that.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).

Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit” (Ps. 34: 13).

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord….” (Prov. 12: 22).

Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Eph 4: 25).

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…” (Eph. 6: 14).

We should speak the truth and value it, in ourselves and others.  The world, we know, cannot receive the Spirit of Truth.  But He dwells within us (John 14: 17).

[1][2][3]  The Atlantic, “From Trump’s Twitter Feed to Dictators’ Mouths” by Krishnadev Calamur, 12/14/17, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/trump-fake-news-dictators/548414/.

[4]  New York Times, “Assad’s History of Chemical Attacks, and Other Atrocities” by Russell Goldman, 4/5/17, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/world/middleeast/syria-bashar-al-assad-atrocities-civilian-deaths-gas-attack.html.

[5A]  Human Rights Watch, Venezuela, “As Perverse As It Gets”, 1/25/18,  https://www.hrw.org/americas/venezuela.

[5B]  Human Rights Watch, Venezuela, “Venezuela:  ICC Prosecutor to Review Alleged Crimes”, 2/8/18, https://www.hrw.org/americas/venezuela.

[5C]  Human Rights Watch, Venezuela, “Venezuela’s Journalists Can’t Be Silenced”, 3/19/18, https://www.hrw.org/americas/venezuela.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

11 Comments
  1. Great post Anna!
    Thank God for discernment.. Propaganda surely has a long history.

  2. Excellent post Anna. You bring to light several key components of the Fake News phenomenon.

    What I find disheartening about the matter is that while we live in a time of unfettered access to an unlimited amount of information,we still choose to believe what we believe based upon a preconceived notion of right and wrong. As you say…facts be damned.

    Somewhere in the midst of all the lies and deliberate attempts to deceive,lies the truth. It should be all of our responsibility to dig deep enough to arrive at it, if indeed we care enough to do so.

    • Many thanks, Ron! I fear for this nation. God, of course, remains sovereign.

      • Yes He is, and for that reason alone I have hope that no matter what comes He will uphold those who cling to Him.
        I’m too young (barely) to remember Mr. Murrow, but having seen him on news clips, YouTube, and the like, I doubt many would stomach much of his hard hitting style today. It would seem that we in this country have developed a very thin skin where truth is concerned.

  3. Reblogged this on idahodimple.

  4. Anna, I was born during WW2 and with the Cold War, numerous flare ups and armed conflicts since, including the “War on Terrorism,” we have been in perpetual warfare since I was born. It has been said, “The first casualty of war is the truth.” If this is true it only stands to reason that we are all victims and living in one great, continuous LIE! Our only chance to be free of this lie is to walk in the Spirit of He who IS TRUTH, Jesus Christ.

    When Jesus was standing before Pilate at his trial He said, “My kingdom is not of this world, if it was of this world my armies would come and fight.” Lying and killing is what this world does because it is of the Prince of this World and he was a liar and a murder from the beginning. The kingdom we are of will be made manifest by our words and actions.

  5. Such an important post Anna! Yes we do like news according to our world view or culture. I’m afraid though that the far right is doing the most damage, as many including Christians, have made conservatism their idol. Notice the discrediting of the media is mostly attempted by the culture of the conservatives. Some will do anything to protect Mr. Trump! Liberals are not innocent but Trumpsonian culture is so very dangerous.

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