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Reality has a way of intruding, even when you do your best to avoid it. Some, though, faced with that reality, won't accept it if it clashes with their ideology.

That's a sad comment on our society today.

I intended to spend my birthday last weekend not thinking about any of the inane outrages coming out of D.C., which meant that I would be spending a lot of time watching Netflix while trading rude texts with my oldest brother and nursing my cold. Still, reality shoved its way in multiple times, thanks to alerts from the Washington Post and New York Times on my phone.

Between continuing coverage on the whole controversy about the word that won't appear on this page, the false-alarm missile warning in Hawaii, and the finger-pointing on DACA, it became a little hard to concentrate on mindless entertainment. And my birthday chocolate wouldn't arrive till the next day. Not fair.

The next day we were treated to the assertion that the Wall Street Journal, that bastion of runaway liberalism that it isn't, had lied in its report on an interview with the president, saying that he said, "I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un. I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised."

The president claimed the Journal intentionally misquoted him, and that he said "I'd" rather than "I." The Journal, which had already released the transcript, released the audio in question. The White House then released its own recording, which was identical except for being a little muffled and tinny. (Were they using Nixon's equipment??)

In listening to both multiple times, it seems pretty clear that the Journal reported the quote correctly, especially in the context of that section, in which he talked of his relationships with Asian leaders. Well, unless ideo-logy is interfering with your sense of hearing.

And that's what we've come to now, with belief in events and subjects dependent on ideology, not on facts. It doesn't matter anymore if there are reams of data, video, audio recordings and unimpeachable witnesses. You might see something with your own eyes, but if it doesn't sync with your ideology, you can believe whatever you want and blame any evidence to the contrary on the fantasies of the opposition. Because that's all there are now: monolithic opposing sides. Apparently the groups now are Trump and his supporters versus traditional media and everyone else.

As of last Wednesday (the last update at the time this was written), according to the Washington Post Fact Checker, the president had made 2,001 false or misleading claims in the 355 days since his inauguration (an average of 5.6 a day!). Not that it matters to his base, for whom he can do no wrong. Even if incontrovertible proof is offered, it won't matter.

And why is that? Research indicates that it's a function of the tribalism that has reared its ugly head in the past few years, dividing formerly friendly opponents who could work together into bitter enemies who refuse to work together or even entertain the possibility the other side might have a valid point. Previous studies by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler found that such partisans confronted with corrections and fact-checks on something from their ideology would just dig in in a backfire effect. In their latest study, they found that the president's supporters, when faced with proof of an untruth, would concede the falsity, but not lessen their support.

In short, facts no longer matter.

For those of us in the traditional media who focus on facts, that's disheartening. For every bit of proof we provide for a story, there's at least one person who won't believe it no matter what. And for every disciplined investigative reporter who turns out a well-sourced and evidence-backed news story, there will be a Michael Wolff or a Jayson Blair that the unbelievers will throw out as the epitome of all members of the mainstream media.

Seriously, only a few of us are that icky.

I would love to be able to check comments on a news story and not see claims that "all libtards believe the government should pay us all for not working," or "Rethuglicans all want to keep women in the bedroom barefoot and pregnant and unable to think for themselves." That's not happening, though. It's far more important to keep up the idea that the other side is evil and hopelessly stupid, and that members can't think for themselves. Sure, indications are that some do fit the description, but they're only a portion of the whole.

We're not in Orwell's 1984 universe, no matter how much some have tried to maintain for the past decade that we are. The mainstream media are not the enemy, and not a cabal out to get the president; the aim is to report news, good and bad, even when the president creates the bad news for himself. He can't help himself.

We can only do so much, you know. And really, conspiracies are way too much work. We've got better things to do ... like our jobs.

------------v------------

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 01/17/2018

Print Headline: Petty politics

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Comments

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  • 23cal
    January 17, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

    I suspect The ones who delude themselves into hearing "I'd" instead of "I" are the same one in seven Republicans whose vision betrays them as well as their hearing. Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who performed the study with Samantha Luks, managing director of scientific research for YouGov found that when looking at side-by-side photos clearly showing the Obama inauguration crowd to be vastly larger, one in seven Republicans claimed the Trump crowd was larger.
    *
    In both cases, it is essentially a case of “ 'I’m choosing to basically lie in order to support Trump.' ”
    *
    In the survey, the 1,388 respondents, all American adults, were shown two pictures side-by-side. On the left was a view during Trump’s inauguration of the National Mall from the observation level near the top of the Washington Monument. On the right was a picture from the exact same spot eight years earlier, during Obama’s swearing in.
    *
    The respondents were asked on Sunday and Monday one of two questions about the photos. Half of respondents were asked which of the photographs was taken at Trump’s inauguration and which was taken at Obama’s. Forty-one percent of Trump voters gave the wrong answer, compared to 8 percent of Clinton voters, and 21 percent of nonvoters. NOTE: 41% of Trump voters got it wrong. This speaks to how uninformed they are.
    *
    The other half of the survey participants were asked a simpler question: Which photo had more people? Fifteen percent of Trump voters, or about 1 in 7, gave the wrong answer, compared to 2 percent of Clinton voters and 3 percent of nonvoters. This speaks to how delusional/dishonest they are, and it is impossible to reason with people like that.

  • wildblueyonder
    January 17, 2018 at 9:36 a.m.

    Another of Looper's liberal diatribes. Tell only the facts you want people to hear, ignore the rest. I wouldn't trust the WaPo fact checker with anything! You libs have divided this country into two groups, those that agree with Trump's policies versus those that hate any and every thing. This all started with Obama, yet the media did not "fact check" his claims that "the police acted stupidly" nor any other things he said. They were in the tank for him lock, stock and barrel. The letters page now has an overwhelming majority of liberal letters spewing their hatred for any in opposition to their worldview. I don't know if there's a lack of positive views or a biased choice to include mostly negative remarks. Petty politics thrives with the liberal media and liberal minded folks who believe whatever is written by them. From politics to religion, the leftists want to mute the opposition while claiming to be unbiased. Sane people are seeing their folly whether in print or not.

  • 3WorldState1
    January 17, 2018 at 9:37 a.m.

    Wow. Scientifically interesting. Scary indeed though.
    How can we as a country get a handle on this? This willing ignorance is our country’s greatest threat.

  • GeneralMac
    January 17, 2018 at 9:54 a.m.

    Did the media care that "hands up, don't shoot" was based on lying Black's statements?

    No, it sounded good.
    It was popular with liberals.
    The media ran with it .

  • ARMNAR
    January 17, 2018 at 10:55 a.m.

    I love it when she triggers the Baggers.

  • wildblueyonder
    January 17, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    Amgoo, go back into your s***hole.

  • drs01
    January 17, 2018 at 12:15 p.m.

    Can anyone direct me to the right bunker when our next civil war starts. It's just a few pounds of printer's ink away based on what I read here and in the paper. Haven't we already proved that you can't build a nation by continuing to fight over political points of view. Will we ever convince liberals that they are the real sh**heads because their heads are wedged too far up their ass.

  • Slak
    January 17, 2018 at 12:18 p.m.

    The so-called "Fourth Estate" has done this to themselves. They cannot be trusted because they have broken the trust.
    For 8 years we had trembling progressive liberal so-called "journalists" emotionally bound to the false narrative of Saint Obama. Early childhood developmental issues caused by his white man hating mother's own emotional instability were ignored to paint a fake picture of some liberal savior come to bring free rainbow stew to the huddled masses. The story of Obama's soaking up anti-white man hatred from his philosophical mentors was largely ignored, denied and buried by political operatives who claim some kind of freedom to guide the American people into proper thought, all the while hiding behind the fictitious claim they are special because they call themselves journalists.
    The other side of the so-called "Fourth Estate" coin continues in this trust-breaking vein. We see the same trembling sycophantic liberal provocateurs still anointing themselves as so-called "journalists" as they attack a duly-elected sitting President on a daily, no, hourly basis. Over 90% of the liberal establishment's mainstream media coverage has been negative to President Trump. This is a very clear indicator these so-called "journalists" are nothing more than partisan hacks, opinion writers masquerading as news writers. That is the best interpretation.
    At its worst, these provocateurs are traitors to the Fourth Estate, abusing their privilege to sway the public to their personally held beliefs. This would make them traitors to the country.

  • Slak
    January 17, 2018 at 1:03 p.m.

    Hey, gohogs, Miss Two Shoes does the picking. She is a liberal opinion writer, not bound to truth like the so-called "journalists". Do the math, lol.
    My thought on the overwhelming liberal bias of the letter writers are:
    1. Impotent libs have more pressure to vent.
    2. Winning cons don't trust the fake news and have less pressure to counter the lib bias.

  • wildblueyonder
    January 17, 2018 at 1:36 p.m.

    Slak, amen to that!

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