The content of yesterday’s article was largely dictated by the calendar so effectively today’s is the first “free topic” article of 2023. I want to start the new year with an old story that teaches a lesson we need to help us through the plethora of disinformation we will be exposed to in 2023 and beyond.
I was sitting on the sidelines during a basketball practice over 20 years ago when one of my guards who wasn’t in the drill sat down next to me. He asked if we could chat and of course I replied in the affirmative. He told me of a media report about a racially sparked fight he supposedly had with a white forward on the team at practice the previous Monday. I happened to be at that entire practice and knew for a fact that no fight of any kind between or among any of my players had taken place.
He said, “Coach, you know me. You know I’m not a racist.” Both statements were true. My guard was understandably upset. Like all of my college level teams that squad was very diverse. Off the court the guys tended to hang out in two different groups mainly differentiated by race but that was almost exclusively dictated by taste in co-eds and music.
As my guard went on, he asked, “Why would somebody tell lies like that about me?” I replied that it got attention. I said, “If they ran a story about how you go to church every Sunday with your grandma would anyone be interested?” He replied in the negative and then went on to ask how I knew about the going to church with grandma thing.
Where this story applies to today’s politics is that you have to decide which information is credible and which isn’t.
The news source in question didn’t have the most seasoned reporters and editors. That makes it a lot easier for an unfounded rumor to slip through and become “truth”. The old adage of “consider the source” was never truer than it is today. Too many people get their news from sources like Facebook, Fox News or some even more obscure and less credible right wing mythology dispenser.
If memory serves me correctly that particular team was never ranked outside the top ten in the country that season. A college basketball team with deep racial tensions doesn’t win that many games. It’s just that simple! Therefore, with just a little thought the story isn’t believable.
Most American news media is for-profit. Therefore, it is in the business of attracting, readers, viewers, listeners, clicks, eyeballs, ears or some combination of them. Sex sells. Controversy sells. Scandal sells. I could go on.
It is no wonder that the puff pieces are reserved for the end of the broadcast and/or slow news days. A cute kitten story doesn’t get ratings but one about a raid on an establishment dealing in obscenity or a grizzly murder does.
Be a tough news consumer and think twice before you believe. Healthy skepticism is necessary to preserve democracy in a free speech society.
This article was written well ahead of publishing in order to accommodate my year end hiatus and is the property of tellthetruthonthem.com. Its content may not be used without citing the source. It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.