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View Diary: NY Times Asks Readers Whether it Should Tell the Truth (189 comments)

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  •  actually, the truth is not the media's job. (8+ / 0-)

    truth has some subjective meaning, and no, i don't think it is the job of the media to tell me "THE TRUTH"

    the reporter's job is to report data and events as objectively as possible and let me, the reader, draw my own conclusions and analysis. however, the reporter, editor(s), and publisher must insist:

    • that those being interviewed or giving information absolutely must be able to document and verify that information, quote, etc.

    in terms of reporting, don't confuse documenting facts with truth. sometimes, they are very different things.

    It is the job of the op/ed writers to analyze, from their perspective (subjective), the reported news. We can accept or reject their analysis, but certainly, those pages are also not purveyors of truth. only opinion.

    the most dangerous thing, imo, is establishing media as standard bearers of "truth" because if and when they start lying, we almost never see it coming.

    like assuming the New York Times was a liberal, truth telling paper and whamo: Judy Miller happens...

    •  but the story isn't about a search for truth (8+ / 0-)

      but where and when a news story should report the lack of factual basis for a statement, or an outright lie.

      Telling the truth in the kindergarten sense,   one states what one understands to be facts and doesn't make up stories.  To make it up is lying and that is bad.

      There is a difference between analysis, where a set of objective facts may lead honest people to different conclusions,  and the paper provides analysis.

      But if some politician flat out states Obama was born in Kenya and isn't a citizen, is refuting that something that should be in the article quoting the politician, or reserved for a Sunday editorial.

      Imagine a crime report where the alleged murderer is allowed to be quoted " I didn't do it"  but the editor felt constrained from quoting three eye witnesses that said he shot him, and the facts that he was seen entering the room, pulling out a gun and pulling the trigger and the victim fell over dead.   Why is there a different standard for reporting facts in a political context?

      •  there isn't a difference. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in your example, it would be fair to report both what the murderer said (direct verifiable quote) and what the witnesses allege they saw (as long as it is verifiable that they said what is quoted) ... because, after all, the murderer is innocent until proven guilty.

        in your example of a politician being quoted as stating that Obama was born outside of the US in a media article: no, it is not the job of the paper to REFUTE the assertion Simply, the media's job is to report the facts known about the President's place of birth and his birth certificate, which has been certified as real by this and that source.

        The op/ed page could analysis the motives, call it lunacy of the fringe, et al. It is there that the politician's veracity can be challenged. But not in the news story.

        at least, the way i think of it.

        •  exactly my point (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pfiore8, Sychotic1, Agent99

          innumberable times the newspaper or television interviewer or more, doesn't say anything to report other facts even exist let alone point out said facts directly contradict the quoted statement.  And the Times editor questioned whether they even should report those facts in a news story.

          The paper doesn't have to pick sides to point out additional facts, including what eyewitnesses said or the existence of documents that contradict an statement made.   They fail to present pertinent facts germaine to the events.   The failure of the news media is part of the problem with too many people not knowing the difference between fact and opinion.  Or confusing reporting all facts with truth.


          •  agreed. (1+ / 0-)
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            we have not had real journalism from the conventional, established media for some time.

            but because the media isn't doing its job doesn't mean the definition of journalism changes to mean "reporting the TRUTH"

            i think the New York Times actually blew it with the question
            because Brisbane doesn't seem to understand a reporter's role:

            I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.

            Reporters are reporting: relaying information with as little bias and judgement as possible (because some slant is bound to get in any story, we are human... just look at the bible. i mean when you can mess around with the word of god, well, i'm just saying).

            Due diligence is required and sometimes, reporter's miss things, have deadlines, or can't find things. But they can always call someone on the other side of the issue (someone known) to comment. At the very least, they must do that.

            but the wicket is sticky with the causes of climate change, for example. all a reporter can do is present science from competing sides (as there are, apparently, competing theories by holders of degrees).

            of course, as an op/ed writer, you'd have much more latitude, including questioning the value of those with degrees...

            As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same?

            but, Mr. Brisbane, reporters are not op/ed columnists. now are they?

            •  Right. (1+ / 0-)
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              Brisbane's appeal is silly, and a little distubing, but it's for the reasons you are bringing up in this thread-- not because we need reporters interpreting the truth value of public statements as a rule. because we don't.

            •  yes (0+ / 0-)

              but in an effort of putting all the facts out front on climate change,  a reporter could point out that in all the research and interviews, there are four people with actual degrees in the area that question climate change theory as it now stands and 842 that agree with the theory and that the four people that challenge it all work at the same think tank owned by a oil company owner's private foundation.    Bias of the speaker is always something that can be part of the background the reporter gives.  If a reporter is anything more than a stenographer that is.

              Would Watergate ever have unravelled if the reporters stopped with the Nixon Adminstration denies all knowledge and the paper refused to print all the background information they dug up?  That is basically all today's press would do.

    •  Let's take the "apologize" case. (5+ / 0-)

      Under your standard, the Times could only have reported Romney's statement if it was able to interview him or his staff and ask for the verification of the "apologize" statement.

      Yet Romney says this repeatedly in speeches for which there is no follow-up.  Should the Times not print it at all, or should the Times tell the whole story by stating that Obama has not used the words "apologize" or "sorry" or even quoting what Obama has really said.

      It's not just the "truth" -- it's the full story.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 11:37:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  True. (7+ / 0-)

      And they should not publish any unchallenged statements.

      If the Thomas spokeswoman says he misunderstood, ask specifically what he misunderstood - which question on the form, what exactly he wrote incorrectly, and why. Then get a statement from the agency the form was issued from as to the likelihood someone of intelligence could possibly misunderstand that question.

      If Romney won't give any example of Obama apologizing (after being challenged to), note in plain terms that he could not provide a single example of him having done so, and the NYT could likewise not find a single example in a study of all of Obama's speeches.

      The reader draws the conclusions (that Thomas and Romney are liars), but at least state all the facts. Otherwise, don't print the claim at all.

      •  exactly. (1+ / 0-)
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        printing the claim without doing the research to verify it would be, in effect, supporting Mittens.

        but the reporter isn't doing it to defend Obama, the reporter is doing his/her due diligence for the sake of the record.

        to keep the record straight. to present both sides of the issues without bias.

      •  I totally disagree with this. (1+ / 0-)
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        They definitely should print the claims.  It puts the person on the record.

        I have no problem at all with reports that document Romney's questionable claim about Obama apologizing for America-- such a report does not necessarily need fact-checking of statements like that.  In fact, I would not want to see reporters trying to fact-check these kind of candidate statements as a rule, simply because 1.) the statements are open to interpretation and 2.) a negative is very hard to prove.  Because of #1, simply doing a search and finding no instances where Obama apologized is really of very little value UNTIL AND UNLESS they actually interview Romney and ask him for what he is talking about, because what is and is not an apology is open for interpretation.  And realistically, it is not possible to get comment from the candidate on every claim they make for every report the comments in a timely manner.  Because of #2, reporting that a particular thing never happened is prone to error.

        All this is fine, because there is nothing wrong with simply printing the questionable claim and asking the candidate about it later.  I think the media in general needs to follow up on these kinds of questionable claims by asking the person about them when they have the chance, however-- that's the change that needs to happen.

    •  That's not journalism. That's stenography. (6+ / 0-)

      First things first...there is such a thing as objective truth. The very root cause of the decline of journalism is the postmodern belief that there is no such thing as facts and reality. It's all in our heads. Bullshit.

      •  Even easily referenced facts are ignored. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pfiore8, Sychotic1, Shotput8, Matt Z, Agent99

        I was commuting to Knoxville in early Fall 2006 when I heard a news item on the radio. In it, a reporter for a Nashville paper had a piece on Harold Ford's voting record. The Corker campaign said he voted one way, and Ford's campaign said he voted the opposite. The reporter closed her item with "It looks like voters will have to make up their own minds."

        I had to pull over so I could beat on the dashboard and scream at the radio. There's an effing thing called the Congressional effing Record where one could look it up.

        Freaking incompetence. And laziness.

        •  that's a different thing. (0+ / 0-)

          that reporter should have reported Harold Ford's record from a verified source such as the Congressional record.

          Or at the very least, given the readers the links or info how to access both candidate's records.

          but it's gotta be impartial.

          •  The truth IS IMPARTIAL. nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z
            •  no, the truth is not impartial. (0+ / 0-)

              because truth is not one size fit all.

              and again, the weakness of people on the left is this idea that all you need is a little truth. LOOK AT THE FACTS, damn you stupid wingnut tea party people!!!!

              well, let me assure you, bbb, those people have the truth and the facts.

              it's just those things have nothing in common with yours.

              we need to deal with it. accept it and find some other way to communicate.

              encode. send. decode. we aren't good at it.

              •  No...we should never accept that. (0+ / 0-)

                That is the worst thing in the world to accept. That someone else's lies are the equal to another persons truth.

                No, they do not have truth and facts. They have lies and falsehoods. It isnt our truth. It is THE TRUTH.

                So no, people on the left should not accept that Obama was born in Kenya and leave it at that. It isn't true. It is a lie. People believing in lies does not make them true. It makes them delusional.

                •  you're really not getting it, are you? (0+ / 0-)

                  the "they" to whom you refer think and say EXACTLY the same things you're saying.

                  they think you, me... we are delusional, easily lied to, ignorant.

                  "they" think they have the facts and the truth and we cling to our lies and falsehoods.

                  until we break this cycle and learn how to really communicate with each other, it'll continue being hatfield and mccoys.

                  •  I know that. (0+ / 0-)

                    What I'm pointing out to you is that THEY ARE FUCKING WRONG.

                    LOL....(smh i even have to debate this.)

                    I already know they believe a bunch of lies. That does not make me validate them.

                    Let me put it like this: If you believe in lies, spread them, are not equal to person who believes in truth and facts. Lies do not equal truth. So just as much as they could say that I'm lying, does not make me equal to them. Period.
                    If they think the same thing, it is irrellevant because lies, truth, facts, and reality will ALWAYS, over the long run, defeat falsehoods and lies.

                    So yes, I know that some people go to their graves believing that Obama was born in Kenya. Fuck them. They're fucking wrong and the proof is clear.

      •  it most certainly is journalism. (0+ / 0-)

        first, i don't agree that there is objective truth, otherwise why are we arguing about this? oh. wait. i suppose you are the holder of objective truth and i'm just lacking that third eye?

        Reality is another interesting concept. Reality is what you perceive and I'd guess you think everyone looking at the exact same set of circumstances or facts is process those data exactly like you. But you'd be wrong. Because while 20 people may see an the same accident, they don't see the exact same things, nor do they process that event in the way you or i would. And then there are the things happening behind their backs, out of the range of sight or hearing are not part of their reality. So what really happened?

        There are several things happening. Reality (what you experience) and actuality (what is happening in 360 degrees around you, much of which most of us miss).

        It seems to me that our biggest weakness on the left is the lack of understanding this. Most of us, if not all of us, act on what we BELIEVE to be true or to be a fact. That's quite different from objective actual facts/truth.

        As for journalism, it is important not to claim the truth or sides... reporting with as little bias as possible helps to keep the separation between city room and the sponsor.

        Journalism that purports to tell the truth is Fox News.

        •  But Fox is lying. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z

          I could very well say you dont exist. That wouldn't make it true or reality.

          If there are no such things as facts or truth or objective reality, then you can't posit there is such a thing as no truth or no reality. Because then you'd be stating a fact or a truth.

          Basically this leads us down the road were on now, where nothing is real and anything anybody says is equally valid. That isn't rational or reasonable.

          •  really? Fox lies? color me surprised! (0+ / 0-)

            yes, of course I understand Fox is a one-sided lying propaganda machine.

            but they aren't, in my view journalists nor do they practice journalism.

            I didn't say there are no such things as facts or truth; and perhaps I should restate my position on objective truth: most, if not all of us, are not capable of comprehending objective truth... we can't see it because we have not experienced the 360 degrees of reality happening around us (what is actual).

            so, in some ways I guess objective truth exists, much like that tree falling the forest without any earthling around to hear it fall...

            as for your last sentence, you are right... that is the road we're traveling: anything anybody says is valid. we've lost perspective on being reasonable and rational. but that is what poisoned partisan politics and propaganda are good for. and yes, i think we practice it on our side.the troll hunts and all the silliness. good god. i can't imagine George Washington or Benjamin Franklin thinking, oh joy... our ideas led to this!

            what we um liberals could do better is stop throwing around our facts like they'll make the ignorant immune from the very smart slick messages of people like Karl Rove.

            we need to find another way in. think matrix.

            •  No we do not. (0+ / 0-)

              We need to stand up for facts and truth. Period. We do not need to stop believing in things we know to be true just because other people are delusional. That is sickening to even consider.

              Death Panels? Hey why not. Other people believe it therefore it could be true.

              Obama born in Kenya? Hey why not. One persons birth record is another persons made up fairy tale. Who is to say which is to be believed?


              •  exactly why we are in this stalemate (0+ / 0-)

                okay. you stick with your way. see how far it will get us.

                or just look how far it has gotten us... on the brink of many things: ocean fail, energy fail, democracy fail...

                this is narrow narrow thinking...

                •  Yeah. It isn't a stalemate on my end. (0+ / 0-)

                  It is only a stalemate because you don't believe in things that I know are most certainly objective facts. You know the great thing about facts, truth, and reality? They tend to outlast and outlive lies and myths.

                  So yeah...there isn't a stalemate over here on Obama's birthplace. The facts of the matter are clear to me and anybody who doesn't believe isn't equal to me. They're insane, delusional, or lying.

                  •  good luck... (0+ / 0-)
                    It is only a stalemate because you don't believe in things that I know are most certainly objective facts.

                    because if your side wins, and that's how you approach things, then you will have to control the other side. yeah. you're going to have to put constraints on them. just like they want to do to you.

                    so how will you stop them? the creationists? and pro lifers? and people who think only catholics or protestants should be allowed in office?

                    it's gonna take lots of energy and we need all we can get to solve environmental problems, protect our food and water sources, and retool our educational system.

                    •  If you believe in the truth, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      you stand up for the truth and let the chips fall. You don't stop believing in the truth because other people don't.

                      I suppose when the birther nonsense came up, we could have simply said to Orly..."'re points are valid. We have to take what you think seriously." That's bullshit. She's a fucking nutcase. She's lying. She's false. We've got proof. It's been proven in court. You lose. End of story.

                      My point to you is that you should never make your belief in the truth conditional on other people's belief in lies. Either you believe in the truth or you don't. I believe truth will always win in the end.

                      •  i'm not advocating (0+ / 0-)

                        to make one's truth conditional.

                        i'm advocating wisdom to understand that we don't all hold the same truths.

                        you can't win hearts and minds without getting that one very important thing.

                        you need to find another track into the mind... some way of not TELLING people what is true, but finding some switch that gets them thinking: does this make sense?

                        we need thinking people... critical thinkers.

                        you can hang on to that birther thing... it's a good example. it doesn't matter how much you "prove" Obama is a US citizen, they will never believe it. how can you deprogram that kind of thinking?

                        that's what you should be asking yourself, not using your energy telling me that they are liars. they aren't lying because they believe what they are saying... although they have been lied to... they just aren't able to let go of whatever it is that allows them to call the sky pink when it is so clearly blue

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