Some days, you just bang your head on the wall and hope for a better tomorrow. There have been a lot of those days lately.
Some of us in the media find the claims of liberal bias and fake news offensive.
I’m a Republican and hold true religious convictions. My beliefs place me on the right side of the political spectrum.
That is why I am a critic of President Donald Trump — his lifestyle and actions. The fact that many evangelicals have traded in their morals for political convenience notwithstanding, I see my stance as being consistently conservative while those on the right who support Trump can’t make those claims.
Others in the media don’t seem to mind the fake news label as much and they certainly haven’t recoiled from allegations of bias.
Even though the president constantly tweets his hatred toward the media all day and rallies his followers to hate the media all night, the USA Today made the decision to publish a list of lies allegedly authored by President Trump.
The editor of the newspaper defended running the column, that some fact checkers have said contained false or misleading information in every sentence, by stating the president’s column was treated like other columns.
The fact that they don’t check their facts is a tough fact to digest.
I use a higher standard for local political ads than the USA Today does for its columns. I have no problem with opinions that vary from mine. That’s entirely expected. But your facts can’t vary from mine.
If you say I’m ugly, that’s your opinion. But if you say I am 5-feet, 6-inches tall, we’ll grab a tape measure and check it out.
The USA Today can’t be bothered to do that. They will let you answer later as “part of the conversation.” They ran a big fact-check piece a couple of days later, but if facts are checked prior to publication, lies don’t have time to grow and spread.
Thanks to USA Today, the guy who spends all day deriding fake news was able to spread some of the fakest news ever published because they were sloppy and have standards that are loose by any standard. They deserve every criticism they have received.
On the other side of the argument are those who say the media shows its bias in news stories. I would tell you that news stories should be accurate and well-reported. You don’t get to be a cheerleader when you write the news.
The story is what it is. If you do bad stuff, you probably won’t like the story.
But the Huffington Post made a publishing decision this week that revealed questionable standards, at best. In addition to whether a story is accurate, you have to determine if it is worthy of publication. What good is derived from the distribution of the information?
A story about presidential advisor Stephen Miller eating glue in the third grade fails every test of newsworthiness. I can’t imagine a story about anyone’s third-grade behavior that is relevant to anyone after that person is out of the third grade. The glue eating statute of limitations has to expire after a few decades.
No one dislikes Miller more than I do. If you want to expose things he did and said in high school or college that indicate he is a racist who supports white supremacist beliefs, I can support that. Barring a life lesson or some true epiphany, a racist high schooler will become a racist adult.
But a third grader?
I’m not sure that Miller putting glue on his arm, peeling it off and eating it has much to do with this administration’s policy platforms. There is no proven correlation between glue eating at the age of eight and believing tariffs are a good idea or working overtime to keep Muslims and Mexicans out of the country.
I’m sure the people at Elmer’s would have to include a warning label if that were true.
When I was in the third grade, my mom would comb my hair to make me look presentable. I would walk out the front door on the way to the bus stop and mess my hair up before I ever stepped off the porch. By the time I was in high school, I was sporting a fabulous mullet. By the time I was in college, I had the same haircut I have now. This hairstyle is older than many of my employees. But in the third grade, my hair was intentionally messy.
Don’t tell any of your friends at the Huffington Post. That’s an expose I don’t want to read.
Obviously, this piece was simply created and delivered to embarrass a man whose policies they want to discredit by calling him a third-grade glue eater. If you proved he was a current glue sniffer, perhaps there would be some credibility.
Unfortunately for all of us who publish news and opinions, the Huffington Post did us no favors when it comes to credibility and avoiding bias. Now the teacher who provided the glue eating story has been suspended. The Huffington Post tried to embarrass Miller, got a teacher suspended and made all of us dumber for having read that story.
So I will be over here banging my head against the wall. Hopefully, more media sources will begin upholding standards that prove claims of bias and fake news false.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.