#43 – Fake News – Confused?

There is no secret Truth,
only truths we refuse to acknowledge.
The Truth is not hidden from us.
We are hiding from it.
— Reb Yerachmiel Ben Yisrael

Relax, it’s all fake news from Putin’s prevarications to Trump’s transgressions. Don’t get angry now, but indeed, that’s what we all do—lie virtually all the time! We are all purveyors of fake news. (See Current Events #26) In fact, pursuing the truth can be dangerous. Lies come in many sizes including being disingenuous, e.g. pretending to tell the truth—but not really. Listen carefully to the publisher of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the following story.

Editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired because of his opinion about the relationship between Donald Trump and the truth. Roger’s new boss at the Gazette told him that he “believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.” (1)  Hint: this is not the real reason Rogers was fired as we are sure you can detect. This was, in fact, the rationale of a gutless and biased publisher not to mention a pseudo newspaper man to whom freedom of the press and freedom to seek the truth were apparently something that the publisher cared little about. Wow! We sure had a reaction there.

Rogers had a decidedly different opinion as to what his professional responsibility entailed. “Our job is to provoke readers in a way words alone can’t. Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics.” (1)  It turned out, however, that greed in search of profits on the part of the new owners of the Gazette and politics with Trump on the horizon turned out to be incompatible with the truth. Unless that is, we believe in the modified truth that the free press with its “fake news” is one of the greatest obstacles to “making America great again.”

Starting in 2011, Roberts saw an alarming and somewhat sad change occur in the alternative “truths” published by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealing a new mission on the part of the publishers, a mission wherein the truth began to be a casualty of an emerging illusion in the American community. Rogers noted a shocking change in the worldview of the Gazette: “Then earlier this year [2018], we published openly racist editorials.” (1)

Of course, it was not always this way. Semour M. Hersh, in his A Memoir, takes us back to what he calls the golden age of journalism when the truth was valued as were the “shoe leather” journalists who pounded the pavement in search of the truth that others were trying to hide. “From the My Lai massacre of 1968 to the degrading treatment of detainees in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, Hersh delivered the goods.” (2)  The danger here is that we can romanticize a “golden age” which never existed even though the lies were relatively less egregious than today’s twisted truths.

The sad truth is that one president or one political party has not been more adept at discerning the truth than another throughout our history because most Americans are too caught up in the illusion of a false narrative to perceive the difference between a truth and a lie.

For example, on the other side of the aisle: “‘We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return,’ said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs the Senate subcommittee that wrote one of the reports.” Truth starts to emerge and then comes the lie which for more than a decade has overpowered the truth. The truth, you see, is not profitable. “Administration officials strongly deny that U.S. efforts have failed to reduce drug production or smuggling.” (3)  Why shouldn’t we believe the administration?    “The Obama administration is unable to show that the billions of dollars spent in the war on drugs have significantly stemmed the flow of illegal narcotics into the U.S.” (3)

Truth profoundly understood will not occur on the pages of our newspapers or in political cartoons or even in the philosophy departments of our universities. That is because truth is not apprehended by the intellect. In the context of Paradigm B, our current universal narrative, with the false self as our dominant identity, the truth is rarely apparent.

It is the intellect that depends upon imagination and belief to create its worldview. The intellectual understanding of truth is one thing—an experience of truth—that is, feeling truth, is quite another.  Rollo May made the critical distinction between the truth experienced when we respond to life and the illusion produced by our reacting or resisting our experience of life. “Truth becomes reality only as the individual produces it in action, which includes producing it in his own experience.” (4)

Follow the links below to pursue this divergent analysis of the difference between truth and illusion.

Insight # 42:  The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all of our lives.    Albert Einstein

Links:

References:

  1. Rogers, Rob. “Making Fun of Trump Got Me Fired.” The New York Times Sunday Review, June 15, 2018, page 2.
  2. Rusbridger, Alan. “The Journalist as Lone Wolf.” The New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2018, page 14.
  3. “Reports: White House can’t show money spent in drug war helps.” The Denver Post, May 9, 2011, page 9A.
  4. May, Rollo. The Discovery of Being. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1983, pages 72-73.

Comments are closed.