The Relativity of Truth in the Age of Trump
Our Founding Fathers never intended an objective media. Freedom of the press was not about truth, but about the right to express opinion. Then, a shift occurred in the American consciousness and changed the role media played.Throughout the 40’s through 60’s, often considered the golden age of television, and long after the yellow journalism years, we bought into the myth of media being the source of objectivity and truth. There were only three major networks competing for viewership, so their shares served as a barometer on at least conventional wisdom, if not the truth. This limited number of networks created a fierce competition with each other that served as a check on content and maintained a balance.
This is no longer the case. The prevalence of niche platforms, bloggers, and social media allows for an endless variety of news sources that align with a person’s core values and provide a version of the truth. This is why, no matter how many times it has been disproven, people still belive Barack Obama bugged Donald Trump during the campaign. In the end, they don’t care about FBI and CIA reports.The supporters of Trump will continue to be convinced because they can find sources to corroborate his statements, and, in turn, their own beliefs become justified.
We are now presented with an infinite number of truths, all considered valid, depending on the viewer’s own principles. This is confounding to liberal academics because they lack the ability to understand that what people BELIEVE to be is true is far more compelling than what IS true- like sailors believing the Earth was flat and never going beyond the horizon. For academics there are facts, not alternative facts, which is only found by definition in science fiction.
However, truth does matter and if history tells us anything, it tends to prevail. As Justice Brandeis said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. So, when reading those headlines about the Bowling Green “massacre”, the claims of massive voter fraud, the biggest electoral win since Reagan, and the most productive first 100 days of any presidency ever, just remember that it’s someone’s opinion of a public fact.