A tale of two worlds: social media and truth - Part IV
Saturday, 1 January 2022 11:30 am
Premise #5: It’s a practical possibility and reality that certain inconvenient truths
are being suppressed on a large, indeed global, scale by the entirety of the
world’s traditional media outlets, editors and journalists,
across all nations, political systems, biases and alliances.
Is there information ‘out there’ (internet, social media, etc) that’s rarely or never reported or covered in the general media? Yes indeed; and on a voluminous scale. Does that silence constitute blindness, censorship or suppression? Well in principle it could be one or more of those, at least in some cases. But it can only be so if the never-published material is both true and provable. If it isn’t the former, as it well may not be (see all the above) then the ‘silent’ journos are doing just as they should protecting democracy, even if some folk are convinced otherwise. In plainest terms, being on the internet and widely believed doesn’t make a thing true (again, see above). In fact it would at least be prudent not to take it’s truth for granted.
Second, regardless of whether or not it’s true in reality, if it isn’t provable then other constraints on the professional media come into play. For instance we have civil legal protections to discourage the publication of false or unprovable allegations about a person or collective. Journalists and editors are liable to incur career-destroying or profit-destroying fines if they or their expensive lawyers can’t persuade a judge or jury that the unflattering material they published was the truth. In contrast an anonymous 16-year-old blogger and wannabe ‘investigative journalist’¹ with 100,000 Twitter followers poring over Google and YouTube in their parents’ garage, is both free of any professional constraints, and most unlikely ever to have their laptop seized by federal police in a 4am raid. (And if it did happen, chances are daddy would pay the fine). Neither any care nor any responsibility, in other words. That modus operandi doesn’t make them a soldier in the cause of truth, however many people believe them.
I’ve had a number of conversations on this subject. For illustration a common exchange goes something along the following lines (though usually more nuanced and much more drawn out) …
‘Jack’²: The MSM have a lot to answer for, the way they suppress the truth.
Lance: That’s interesting, Jack. Can you give me an example?
‘Jack’: Sure! Where do I start!? Umm … well, you’ve never seen any mention on the ABC or even Sky News about the way the US government orchestrated 9/11, now have you?
Lance: No, I guess not. But tell me, how do you know that’s true?
‘Jack’: How do I know?! Well gee, everyone knows that. And anyway the ‘lamestream’ media never report it. What more proof would you need?
In other words, with sincerest respect for those who’ve thoughtfully come to the view that there’s a whole body of truth ‘the media’ don’t want us to hear, nearly all the conversations I’ve had or listened to about ‘the mainstream media’ hiding the truth have had that circular reasoning kind of character about them. The fact it’s all over the internet and never in the media proves the media are hiding it from us, and the fact that it isn’t in the media proves it’s true. Circular reasoning.
Impasse #5: Suppression is not the likeliest explanation for lack of media coverage.
What I’ve tried to do has been to outline five premises which are increasingly being adopted largely uncritically as factual representations of the political shape of life in our world. They portend ever increasing division and distrust, which ought to concern us all. I contend that none of the five premises withstands scrutiny (or they don’t “pass the pub test”, to borrow a currently popular Aussie idiom). And my “five impasses” are one attempt to concisely capture this.
Lastly I want to make it plain that in my assessment the clear majority of people who accept any or all of the premises are neither evil nor stupid nor ‘loopy’. Rather they are sincere, thoughtful and responsible citizens, who in their genuine care for the world, it’s people and their friends and loved ones, have found in these premises something persuasive that somehow resonates. How and why that’s so is I suspect another big subject, and probably well beyond my pay grade. At any rate I believe they’ve been misled and I’d want them set free from what is the real tyranny of our age. But neither their genuineness nor their intelligence are in doubt for me.
¹ Social media is awash with them!
² Random common name for illustration only