TRUMP IS JUST THE LATEST LIAR
Facebook is warning and instructing us about false news. (I prefer using fake to false because fake has a circus feel of clowns and charlatans and false is formal legal talk.) Yet no experienced journalist, or sensible adult for that matter, needs to be told about liars because they have been with us since cavemen exaggerated kills and conquests.
We all know at work or school or play who the Bullshitters are and who the people are that you can trust to give a reasonable view.
Whether you lie a lot, or just tell the occasional white lie so people aren't hurt, is determined early in life. It starts with fibs to the parents, gets rooted in kindergarten and blossoms when teenagers chase each other. By the time college or jobs arrive, the jerks who have skidded through early life by cheating whenever they discuss anything more serious than breakfast can't be trusted to be truthful about anything.
Then the stakes really grow on the card table of life, from CV entries and stats at the office for ordinary folks to political promises and records of accomplishments for those who con their way into being our stewards.
Donald Trump has been notorious for decades for lies and cheating. It's just a waste of space and time for the media to detail even a fraction of them. When a vacuous aide talked about his "alternative facts" on Meet The Press on Jan. 22, she was just trying to gold-plate the usual lies from a man infamous for not telling the truth.
For decades, when I heard of a scoop in a newspaper or the electronic media, the first things I wanted to know was who the reporter was and who was the source. All you have to do in Toronto, or for that matter in any settlement larger than a hamlet, is find out those facts and then you have a good idea of whether the story's true or possibly true or probably fake.
There are reporters who goose every story, just as there are politicians who exaggerate every minute. Any reporter, whether they're covering police or politicians or stock brokers, knows that it would be nice to have at least two sources for anything more important than a tiddlywinks championship. Politics is really slippery. But in most news stories, when reporters discard the onlookers who don't have a clue, 50% of the people won't talk to them and 49% lie.
Unfortunately, the size of the newspaper or the reach of the TV station isn't always a guarantee. Mistakes slip through, or become glaringly obvious, since newspapers publish in each edition the equivalent of a book.
Even the big guys goof, but not most of the time, so that can't be used as an excuse in today's silly argument that the world really doesn't need healthy newspapers.
I recall a headline story in the Star saying the rail line cutting through the centre of the city was going to be removed. Great news for developers and the people who lived near the tracks. Except the story was as phoney as it had been years before when the same newspaper ran the same story by the same reporter and baffled rail executives again told the other media they didn't know anything about it.
Oh yes, the tracks are still there but the reporter who didn't give a damn about the truth has been dead for years, which has reduced the number of his hoaxes.
I was successful as a City Hall reporter at the start of my career because aldermen and department heads would only talk to me. They wouldn't deal with other members of the Tely City Hall bureau because they occasionally wrote the opposite of what they were told. An example was the city treasurer telling them there was no plans to have an extra tax bill. Their headline story in the final edition that day warned that Bill Campbell (who incidentally was Rob Ford's grandfather) was contemplating a supplementary tax bill. Campbell didn't sue because he was busy threatening to kill.
Google has become a wonderful tool for journalists. But as I remember warning a journalism class, the Internet is a vast ocean of information into which the observer dips a tea spoon hoping to find a reasonable version of the truth and not be drowned by misinformation, or as Kellyanne Conway would say, alternative facts.
A fact is a fact is a fact. It's real, the truth about what happened, not a wish the fibber would like to be true. The Trumpites may want to challenge the size of crowds or jobless figures but when the photographic evidence is overwhelming or the agency charged with the estimation disagrees, then the alternative facts are really alternative fibs.
At least Google, Facebook and the other wondrous information sources on the Internet present the public with endless information. It is up to you and me and journalists and voters to sift and sort while checking the sources.
Too many bloggers and trolls like to pretend that they alone really know what's happening and that the media organizations are so bloated and beholden that they are not a reliable authority.
It's ludicrous for a blogger informed only by partisan conviction to pick the lint out of their belly button and weave a yarn of what really happened in an incident hundreds of kilometres away which was covered by trained reporters under the direction of experienced editors.
The harsh reality is that the professional liars like President Trump will never be unmasked by bloggers and that today's media with all its warts and failings are the only watchdogs that will bark and bite when the alternative facts become deadly to the public interest.