On Wednesday, let's reset in favor of facts
When Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at 9 a.m. Wednesday it would be a good time for Americans to re-sync their watches back to zero when it comes to facts and information they trust.
One of the most critical jobs for journalists is to hold the people in power accountable to their constituents by being fact-finders and reporting those facts without fear or favor and without bias.
Add to that the age of opt-in echo-chambers on Facebook and other social media platforms, we have devalued expertise and critical thinking.
On Wednesday, let’s choose to reject would-be doctors on social media and instead trust the experts we’d want if we were on the operating table. Unless your uncle is a member of the Oregon State Bar, you wouldn’t want them representing you in court. Expertise matters.
First running for the office in 2016, Donald Trump appealed to voters’ distrust in government officials and news media, using it as a means for his followers to trust him instead of media and those who were elected appointed to government positions.
Trump preferred to use Twitter as a megaphone to get an unfiltered message. If a report about his administration was less than favorable, he called it fake news.
Time magazine reported President Trump had removed a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office within days of arriving. It was a juicy story with obvious race-baiting dog whistles, and Time ran with it, published it first, and then checked to verify it afterward. They offered sincere apologies, but the damage had already been done before Trump arrived on the political scene to exploit that mistrust to full advantage.
We see the need for local news outlets to be greater now more than ever as a result. And with the start of a new Administration, we re-dedicate ourselves to report truth and edit out bias, overt or implied.
Our opinions can differ, but our facts cannot. According to a misinformation study by the Harvard Kennedy School, we are more likely to believe government when our preferred party is in power. Too many people are skeptical of what the other side of the aisle says, but not their own.
Not all of our readers were happy when editorial cartoons took aim at President Trump and his policies.
But power has shifted in Washington, D.C. The Democratic Party is in the White House and in the majority of both houses of Congress. We will hold the Biden Administration accountable as well as the news media that cover it.
The Mail Tribune news section will continue to run fact-based articles about our local, state and national officials, and the opinion section will be a venue that welcomes every point of view from our readers and columnists based on those facts. We welcome you to hold us accountable.
Anything less will be a failure to do our job as a news organization and would not serve you.