Alan Duff: Trying to sift out the truth

The spread of news emanating out of the US based, we have long assumed, on facts has become a battle between media on partisan lines.

We in the Western World are getting an altered version of facts, depending on the political bent of the newspaper or the television channel. I don't mean political events in New Zealand are being reshaped; not the country considered the least corrupt in the world.

But watch CNN one night, Fox News another, and you have two opposite versions of what has supposedly happened in, let's say, Syria. Or in American politics. It's important we know the actual facts, the truth if you will, as international events affect New Zealanders' lives, some significantly.

Take the subject of Donald Trump. Depends on who's telling the story. Last week I ended my subscription to the International New York Times, after nine years of faithful reading, because I was sick and tired of every columnist piling into Trump.

Not that I like the man. Who does? But it insults readers' intelligence to assume we want a relentless anti-Trump message rammed into our reading eyes by every single columnist. It isn't news and it certainly is not informative. And he's such an easy figure, inbuilt that he is with ego, contradictions, thin skin, you name it.

But are we being told the truth about the American President? Or are we getting the rantings of peeved pro-Democrats and left-wing journalists who refuse to accept their own democratic system put this man in the presidential office?

I watched an esteemed New York Times columnist interviewed on television and every negative mention of Trump he personalised. Gets to the Trump-ordered bombing of the Syrian airbase - a rather smart move, the man agreed - he was proud of his country and not a mention of Trump.

If everyone got off Trump's case, stopped second-guessing the motives behind his every decision, maybe vanity and huge ego will have him wanting history to remember him fondly? On Syria, Westerners know virtually nothing of that country's sectarian divide. We know only that America, having toppled Iraq's awful dictator, Saddam Hussein, and helped get rid of the appalling Muammar Gaddafi, still hasn't learned that Middle Eastern countries, at least for their foreseeable future, can only operate with a strongman in charge.

How can we be sure that Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons recently? Who do we count on to inform us of the truth, give us the plain facts? Not saying the Syrian dictator is innocent, and certainly as far from angel form as it gets. But he's presumed guilty, without a trial, only the use of images of suffering Syrian citizens he's supposed to have gassed.

But was he responsible? Absolutely yes, the entire Western World believes. It wasn't Isis? A bomb landing on one of their chemical weapon stockpiles? It would really help to know, as subsequent decisions made by the US will ultimately affect all of us.

What are the facts? Who tells us? Whom do we count on to tell us the unvarnished truth? No government tells the truth. So it's up to the media.

What are the facts? Who tells us? Whom do we count on to tell us the unvarnished truth? No government tells the truth. So it's up to the media. Whom do we believe when competing media are misinforming, twisting and manipulating, even inventing the facts? Where does that leave us, the supposed free citizens living in free countries? Example: Putin is a monster. Yep, he sure is. Irrefutable. Hello? In St Petersburg I was told by every Russian I spoke to that they love Putin.

The American media reaches out around the globe. The public have no other means of getting information on virtually anything, or not what can be called facts. As one united voice it goes on about human rights. Shame on China, Russia and a host of other minor players.

Meanwhile, in their own backyard in the land of the free, 2.3 million people are in prison, over half of those black. Tens of thousands are doing life sentences without parole. The moral high ground? Some - some - pharmaceutical companies impose unjustified price increases of several thousand per cent on their products and laugh all the way to the bank. And enjoy honoured status in society. Many international corporates sell chemically doctored food products that do damage on a far vaster scale than Assad's purported acts of martial venality. Let's get stuck into them, too.

America still has some chemical weapons stockpiles. Which they never mention, like so many other inconsistencies are not spoken about. We need to demand the truth while there is still a chance the media will bow to our demands. Otherwise consider it all just "news" like tittle-tattle over the back fence.

- NZ Herald

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Alan Duff

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