Walter Rhett

Fact Checking

In Perlo on August 19, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Fact checking in the internet age has become a “you decide” process. The dialectics of the web has created clusters of information bubbles. In these bubbles, false claims go unrefuted. If you “disagree,” you can click elsewhere.

Facts are no longer germane to media discussions. Did you know there are more than 600,000 Muslims living in New York City? That the much debate mosque is really a cultural center? That there are two full-fledged mosques within 8 blocks of the World Trade Center site?

The key to truth in this new age is “agreement.” Truth is the power of narrative appeal, a function of flavor and followers. Truth is in numbers, even if achieved by twisted assumptions. False assumptions in the blurred names of news and entertainment can achieve numbers that certify its “truth.”

The bubble with its new definition of truth as agreement with twists, achieved by illogical, emotional, combative shorthand, and its greed for numbers has emerged as the model for new media. Traditional media, radio and television, has altered its values and reorganized to reflect the new conditions and demands.

Those who disagree are attacked as straw persons. Mainly, they must engage from the loud isolation of their own bubbles. The function of this “truth” is inverse; it builds greater numbers even as it divides. It motors on, despite the occasional train wreck we saw with Shirley Sherrod.

Only Rachel Maddow, who sits alone every night, leading a debate by herself, using video clips, seems to have success engaging the old notions.

Case in point: I received a twitter message claiming Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Republican. I clicked the link (ahh, numbers!), the banner did claim Dr. King was a Republican. In support, no quotes were offered from speeches, interviews, associates, colleagues, or Republican themselves. No evidence that Dr. King endorsed Nixon or Goldwater, met with Republican groups for political purposes during the civil rights movement, or supported local Republican candidates at the state level.

Without vetting, analysis, or introspection, someone re-broadcast this undocumented “truth.” I fight it here.
Truth? “You decide.”


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