Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Over the past few years that I have been writing opinion pieces for various newspapers and publications, there have been critics of some of my columns. I know you are going to find that hard to believe but there are some people who just do not agree with me and some are even vociferous enough to offer their criticisms in writing to those newspapers. For an opinion writer this is always a good thing though. First, you know someone is reading your stuff, and secondly, you strike a nerve.

On more than one occasion the critics have used the same argument. It is almost as if they get their criticism from the same talking points. This is what they say. “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but, they are not entitled to their own facts.” This, to me, is a very interesting position. It assumes that they, the critics, somehow have facts about particular situations or events that I do not have. It further assumes that the facts they possess are true and mine are false.

This is my contention. Unless you have first hand knowledge of an event either by witnessing it or by experiencing it, all you know about that event is what you have been told either by the media or some other news source. Then you have to assume that your source of news is true and without agenda.

Over the years during many of my debates with both fans and critics, I find many people read or listen to only the headlines and never dig into the whole story. In addition, I find my most vocal critics trust as their only source of news the major media outlets i.e., The New York Times, the big four TV networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, or CNN. Some even use as their news source PBS or NPR. I don’t think anybody has ever used FOX as a source of their disagreement with me but it could happen.

If these are your only sources of information, then you have no true idea of what the facts are. All of these so-called news sources are private businesses attempting to sell their services (news, commentary, etc.), and as such are edited down to a position that satisfies the agenda of their advertisers, shareholders, and managers. Facts become inconveniences that are dealt with as such.

And so you ask, “What are the facts?” I have found that the truth often lies in the middle. Take any story that is in the news, then watch, read, and listen to several sources of that story. Listen to the agenda that each reporter tries to sell. Whether you hear it or read it, it is there. The prejudice of the reporter or his organization will shine through. The liberal position will have the most sources, all the major media as previously reported in this piece, and the conservative position will be offered by FOX and AM talk radio. Of course there is also the Internet and it is all over the place. But, if you care enough, you can find the best semblance of the truth. It just  takes a little work. Fortunately for you, my lucky readers, I do that for you. Seriously though, you have to be diligent. Just because The New York Times reports it doesn’t necessarily make it true. In fact that is all the more reason to be skeptical.

Many years ago in the simpler times, we had three TV networks and PBS ran kid’s programs. They told us what they wanted us to know and rarely did we question it. That has all changed now and the media has done it to themselves. If you really want to know the “facts,” either go beyond the headlines, use several sources, or just read my columns.

Ron Scarbro, March 28, 2012


Anonymous said...

Here,here although most liberals appear to need to be led around by the nose.

SteveGanshert said...

re: "the facts"
An excellent novel that will have you wondering about the facts: Baldacci-"The Whole Truth."

His comments after the epilogue about "Perception Management Companies" is also of interest.

As always, a fine column.