“I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers — that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun…But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can’t be the only one who’s sick of what passes for the news today.”
Clark Kent, 2012
Scott Lobdell wrote this characterization of America’s most famous reporter, published in the final weeks of the 2012 election. Superman was speaking here as a progressive; this is not a right-wing screed about fake news.
The point holds though, perhaps now more than ever. The White House would like to bar reporters who ask questions it doesn’t like, and refuses to condemn the killing of dissident journalists overseas.
When nothing is true, not even our most basic social mores, I suppose all news can convincingly be cast as fake by people with a vested interest in doing so.
Part of this is on us. We have tolerated decades of spin, of being lied to repeatedly by people in power. Long before Trump, we’d bemoan the truth that all leaders lie, even as we kept electing them. We’ve been in co-dependent political relationships for the length of the media age.
Remember when some people thought blogging would save us? Or social media?
It turns out democracy only works if we participate beyond the bare minimum. If you’re too busy, too tired, too overworked, too impoverished to be more involved, consider whether the systems that govern your life have made that less or more true. Then vote accordingly. That’s a start.