The Poetic-Truth Beat

Speaking truth to power typically goes mute when the power resides Left of center.

For decades — maybe since Watergate, probably long before then — the Fourth Estate has saturated in a misguided resolve. Few people have articulated this thinking better than Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who explained at the International Press Freedom Awards that journalism should be used not only to relay facts but also as “a weapon for a higher purpose: justice.” Not only does the “best of journalism happen[] when we side with the victims, with the most vulnerable, with those who have no rights. The best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power.”

Actually, we should start by defining our terms. As you might guess, “power” does not mean the IRS or the EPA or some local finger-wagging school-board union lackey or the abortionist. Of course not. And a victim is not the unborn child or the preteen stuck in a failing public school or the prospective business owner wrestling with regulatory excess.

And how about telling truth, period. One of the journalist’s few moral obligations is to be a tenacious doubter of fanciful stories. And the more remarkable, beautiful, dramatic, ugly, or bias-confirming the stories are, the more a reporter should be dubious.

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