For many years I have become frustrated with the media and the lack of research into stories and the focus on a headline and hiding the facts later in a story. Ben Goldacre’s excellent books have highlighted many health issues where the papers have grossly misled the public about research, so they can have a ‘cancer cure’ or the next big health scare. This has manifested itself into the people being able to publish anything without having a shred of evidence to back up their claim. Yet we now find ourselves in the situation where these alternative facts have the full glare of scrutiny on them.
Donald Trump has been resident in the White House for less than 3 months and he is already suffering because he cannot provide evidence for numerous claims made. This started with the inauguration and the millions of spectators and the desperation to prove this correct. We have recently had Obama ‘phone tapping’ Trump tower and slandering Obama in the process and Sweden having so many issues with terrorism, without actual having an islamic terrorist attack. Both of these comments originated from a right-wing media outlet that Trump watched and obviously believed. Sean Spicer, his press secretary, has attempted to bully the press and isolate certain sections, with little success. All of the issues have originated from the current inhabitants of White house being unable to show truth in what they are saying and everyone shining a light at statements and policies. This is where our free press needs to earn its money.It needs to ensure that it investigates and holds the administration to account so that they have to provide the evidence for the claims they make and although I am a strong critic of the written press, I have been very impressed by how they have done this and the rigour which they continue to hold Trump to account. This is where Trump could actually be a blessing. He was voted in with his alternative facts as we voted Brexit in with the alternative facts about immigration and at no point were the facts discussed with transparency. When it got tough for UKIP they chose to shout down the opposition and used disaffection with politicians as a way of pushing their cause. We now need this to end. Facts are facts, whether we agree or disagree with them and we should ensure as an inquisitive public that the press show the facts for what they are and not skew them for their own comments sections and headlines. We also need to ensure the liberal and fair press, which I would suggest the BBC and a couple of newspapers are, do not fall into the trap of repeating salacious news for affect. This happened recently,trying to claim the new administration were anti-Semitic, but in fact only allowed the administration to show up the liberal press as inadequate. They should go back to highlighting every inaccurate comment and news made by Trump and his administration and the right wing Fox news that has been a cause of ‘wiretapping’, Swedens terrorists, and recently GCHQ helping to tap Trump.
This is not new. The right-wing press in this country have lied about the EU for years and the mainstream press assumed no one would believe them. They did, with the steady drip of tiny truths laced with sensational lies, so that it was difficult to separate the two. Our mainstream press should now focus on the evidence of the claims and ignore the temptation to over produce claims for effect. If at time this means agreeing with Trump, then so be it. If he is correct with a policy say so, but with every lie and accusation that comes out of the White house or right wing press, they should highlight and enlighten everyone with no comment. The truth is all that is needed.