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“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”
Forget 1984 folks, it’s 2017 all over again. Truth is now a rare commodity in this Economocracy we call the United States of America . There is a new truth, however, that has taken the country by storm: The Truth of the Lie. Shifting versions of truth have always been present in the national story but there has been a wholesale change over the past several decades.
Roger Ailes created Fox News and the slow process of dividing the country was begun. Blabbermouths like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity contributed their share of misinformation masquerading as fact but radio doesn’t have the corrupting persuasiveness offered by television. Conservatives love to rail against the “liberal press” and the likes of MSNBC, claiming news outlets like the New York Times bend stories just like everybody else to suit their fancy.
Repeated enough times, those statements that fly in the face of journalism become the lie that is believed.
The messengers of accuracy, the journalist and the newspaper, have been assaulted to the point that we have been tabbed “The enemy of the people” by the liar-in-chief, Mr. Rumpt. As a longtime newspaper editor and writer I worry for the republic when the president of narcissism has become just another cow led to pasture by the misinformation machine. I surmise he doesn’t know what he believes other than it sure feels good if what he thinks he believes pokes those he doesn’t like in the eye. It appears as though vindictive and distrustful people are susceptible to The Truth of the Lie more than most.
A few years back my dad, brother and I were watching Glenn Beck just to see what nutty proposition he was going to float across the bow of TV land on that day. There he was, with his pointer and a white board and a host of suppositions that would lead to a very damning conclusion for some liberal or leftist. By golly, this day his prey was Obama, and his hypothesis was simple: Obama by his actions and deeds in office logically and systematically led to Stalin. Beck was pointing and gesturing all the while and he walked the viewer to the conclusion that the former president was indeed Stalin in his beliefs. Bing, bang, boom. Obama—Stalin.
We looked at each other and laughed at the sophomoric attempt to prove the point that Obama was a dictator at heart. We stopped laughing when we realized that Beck was actually creating a deception that many of his viewers would believe and pass on to others again and again.
Beck has since said he had seen the error of his some of his ways, saying the beliefs he espoused were a sham, that he had a part in creating fake news. But don’t get him wrong, he has also said he still doesn’t like liberals.
In the meantime, the effort to shift between fact and fiction is still in motion, tossed out by the naysayers, ever a moving target, you never know what might be truth or lie. It makes disbelieving easier than ever. It makes dividing people easier than ever.
The Truth of the Lie has settled over the land and it will take some time to rid ourselves of yet another pest that means harm to us all.