New Rules For The Press

America is at war with itself because America is at war with the truth. As members of the press, your job, as I understand it, is to report the truth. Your integrity only grows stronger when you report the truth. It grows weaker when you report lies. Because a growing number of Americans have a problem with truth doesn’t mean your objective has changed. The way you do it must change though.

The first thing to acknowledge is that The Press is not A Thing, and it certainly isn’t monolithic. It is individuals doing a task and the task is getting at the truth of the life we live. There are number of reasons I point this out.

1) When President Trump said, “The media is the enemy of the people”, he didn’t mean FOX news. They were telling his narrative. He understood that “all media” didn’t exist. The ellipsis that was unstated was … “that disagrees with me”. Telling the truth, in this case, means challenging the ellipsis by calling it out.

2) When someone in media says “Media outlets are saying…” unless they are talking about you, they are lying. If they are lying, your reputation gets tarnished, and the integrity of all media is diminished. In psychology ethics, we are required to respond to lies told about us — good or bad. I believe you should do the same.

3) In the same way, when a politician says “Politicians are evil”, there’s nonsense involved in the question. This needs to be called out.

I began feeling better about the press when individual reporters began standing up for themselves, and breaking the fourth wall. When an Asian-American reporter asked, after Trump seemed to make an anti-Asian connection to COVID, “Why did you say that, Mr. President?” A light dawned. She was not just recording what he said, she was asking an open question. She was challenging him about his motives. She wasn’t accepting his truth as the “the truth”. She changed the rules of the game.

In the old days, truth was not a game. When politicians make it a game, you as individuals determine the rules of engagement. Until there is a truth again, you must choose what the game is. The idea, hopefully, is to corral truth and put a fence around lies.

There is a saying that “Sometimes, the only way to win is to not play”. This idea is tantamount when truth is a game. So another idea of how to work is this. If a politician is saying something you know is not true, you don’t need to publish it, air it or let it onto the internet at all. In the past, the rule was cover it, tell why it’s not true, and let it go. But why put the truth and your integrity in a hole in the first place? The liar will stop lying when it doesn’t get them anywhere at all. The lie can’t be put back once it’s out in the atmosphere, so please don’t put it out there. Note how much things changed when major networks, including FOX, cut away from the press secretary. That’s the point, so we can get back to a world of agreed upon truth.

Resisting with Peace,