Truth and the media

To the Editor:

A letter to the editor last week stated that the Islander’s printing of certain letters to the editor about the administration’s immigration policy was “neglecting your mission to inform accurately.” The writer asserted such letters should not be “allowed.”

Sadly, life is not often so black and white as fact vs. fiction, truth vs. falsehood. Yes, truth exists, but our ability to perceive it accurately is heavily influenced by the particular media bubble with which we surround ourselves. That creates several problems in the case of the mainstream media.

For one, we have a media that is dominated and controlled by a startlingly small number of people who have clear ideological biases.

For another, there is a strong link between the media and certain elements of what has come to be called “the intelligence community” – the spies whose business model is, to put it simply and famously, lying.

Back in 1977, Congressional investigation (and investigative reporter Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame – search bernstein “cia and the media”) exposed the CIA’s startling penetration of the media and its powerful ties with the heads of the media. It bragged that “we own the media.” Four years later, William Casey, on his first day as head of the CIA, famously told Ronald Reagan that the CIA’s mission could be considered accomplished when everything the public believes is wrong.

And now the media is accustomed to quoting those unnamed “intelligence community” sources, who make claims for which, upon careful examination and analysis, no actual usable-in-court evidence is supplied.

Is this the press that is to be the arbiter of truth?

Think back to the Gulf of Tonkin non-incident. The Iraq War 1 Kuwaiti incubator babies non-incident. The nonexistent Iraq War 2 “cakewalk” and WMDs. The Syrian government’s gas attack that was actually staged by the “moderates.” The list of false stories that have brought untold suffering to millions of people is both instructive and endless. And it was the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, CBS, FOX and most of the rest of the U.S. media that pushed upon us this “accurate information.”

There are many sources of information, and sometimes some of the sources outside the mainstream have the clarity of insight – or investigative zeal, or gutsy integrity or simple presence on the ground – to turn up the actual truth, however different from the mainstream/government “common knowledge” it may be.

In a democracy, it is not the job of the Fourth Estate (or Google, or Facebook) to suppress these voices. Demanding this is to abandon one’s freedom (or responsibility) to assess truth for oneself, and to take instead a step toward dogmatic passive uniformity, where real truth seldom lies.

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor


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