Media not to blame for nation's ills

My old neighbor Lou Hrkman and I share many conservative values. But I must part company with his decision to blame the mainstream media for America's ills.

After more than four decades in the business, I will agree with Lou that many journalists, like academicians, tend to be liberal. That can influence what they regard as newsworthy.

But it's precisely because all humans are subject to personal biases that the reputable news organizations require several layers of editing and fact checking before stories are published. Not so Facebook news feeds, Twitter utterances or the blogs too many people turn to for news.

Good journalists share a trait that goes beyond ideological bent: they are skeptical of everyone and require facts to confirm claims. Not the "alternative facts" the Trump Administration touts in Orwell-speak, but quantifiable facts.

Let's not forget the much derided mainstream media first publicized the scandal of Hilary Clinton's email server, and the billions in hush money the Obama Administration paid Iran, or Gov. McAuliffe's ties to a pay for play group run by Mrs. Clinton's brother that offered Chinese citizens an American visa in exchange for investments.

The media are far from perfect. But I'd suggest it is the confirmation bias of today's citizenry, coupled with many people's belief there must be a simple solution for every complex question, that is causing the schism in today's America.

Liberals follow MSNBC and Huffington Post, conservatives turn to Fox News and Breitbart, all egged on by ideologues who think a contrary argument is something to avoid, rather than welcome. (See: "safe spaces" in politically correct universities.)

The First Amendment protects the right of all Americans to speak their minds, not just the press. And when we have a thin-skinned narcissist as president who uses social media to threaten every person and institution that displeases him — while threatening to make it easier to sue journalists for libel — we should all be concerned.

Digby A. Solomon

Williamsburg

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