Is the truth out there?

041316misinformation

At some point between the second and third cup of coffee in the morning — between the hours of 0500 and 0600 on a normal morning — for the creative juices to flow well enough to start typing.

I browse the wire services of Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.   A scan of front pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Roanoke Times provides some idea of what news captures the attention of our newspapers.  A secondary scan of news sites for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and even Fox shows what has grabbed the attention of broadcasters.

We learn the FBI hired hackers to crack the security of an iPhone used by a San Bernardino terrorist, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says “no way” to recruiting him to accept a Presidential nomination from a brokered GOP convention and former President Bill Clinton is no-longer a darling of some black voters and Democrats.

Donald Trump continues to bitch about what he calls a “rigged” primary system.  It is the same system that has existed long before he began to consider himself a candidate for President.

And Op Ed in The New Times says Republican hatred of President Barack Obama created the Trump candidacy that has thrown the 2016 Presidential primary season into turmoil and, many feel, threatens the future of the GOP.

Singer and songwriter Steve Earle says he wanted to hate Merle Haggard wen he was a kid growing up in San Antonio but couldn’t.  Merle was that good.

Locally, a study that shows thousands would use a proposed passenger rail station in Bedford, Verizon employees are ready to strike and Roanoke County sill not raise taxes for pay for its new budget.

The Floyd Press web site says the same thing about Floyd and taxes.  Supervisors voted Tuesday to keep the tax rate the same.  I wrote that story and others from the meeting for this week’s edition of the paper.

Those of us who cover what happens in the nation would call it a “good news day” — a mixture of information that offers tidbits just about everyone.

A different picture, however, emerges from “social media” and sources of news from partisan sources.  The attitude there is more hate, more anger and more claims that America is on its last leg and doom and/or Armageddon is coming.

Ministers trump (pun intended) an approaching “judgement day,” which has been predicted on and off throughout the ages but has never come, others say a civil war is looming in America and others toss around insults and obscenities instead of meaningful information or rational discussion.

Many claim Donald Trump will easily win the election and become President in November, if he can survive claimed Republican attempts to “steal” the nomination from him.

Others say Obama will “seize power” and remain President by declaring martial law.

Over the past 20 years or so, political columns I wrote often called most sources of news on the Internet and satellite TV the “misinformation cow path.”

On October 1, 2012, I wrote:

Rush Limbaugh, whose relationship with reality is tenuous at best, says the polls are driven by the grand conspiracy.

Said Limbaugh to his listeners last week:

“They are designed to do exactly what I have warned you to be vigilant about, and that is to depress you and suppress your vote. These two polls today are designed to convince everybody this election is over.”

To bolster their fantasies, the Romney partisans flock to a laughable web site — unskewedpolls.com — which alters the final results of polls by adding more Republicans to the mix and giving the GOP candidate a mythical lead.

So Limbaugh cites the skewed polls as fact.  So does Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the tea party favorite who flamed out in the GOP primary.

Back then they used the Internet to spread their falsehoods as fact.  The do so even more today.

I first called the so-called “Information Superhighway” the “Misinformation Cow Path” back in 1994.  The then-developing Intenet, born out of DarpaNet, had already become a way to spread rumour and innuendo as fast.

It was dangerous then.  If is more so now.

As a newspaperman, I tend to doubt all that I hear until I can confirm it with at least a second source.

An editor early in my career used to say: “If your mother says she loves you, confirm it with a second source.”

True then and even truer now.

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