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Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie. 

The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship. 

The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and the judgments that they made. Edward Murrow or Walter Cronkite in the USA and Alistair Cooke or Charles Wheeler in the UK established reputations for accuracy and integrity, while not generally compromising their core beliefs. If bias was unavoidable, then let those biases be informed and educated... and declared.

Instead of journalistic judgement, the current generation of opinion leaders in the UK and the USA have formed a political-media complex, where reporting and politics exist in a co-dependency of lies. Obvious conflicts of interest are simply not acknowledged.  For example, those UK newspapers that are most hostile in their reporting of the affairs of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are all facing legal action from the Royal couple. This is simply not discussed by the media outlets involved. For example, Piers Morgan- a disreputable journalist with a series of scandals in his professional career- faces personal involvement in one of the cases, but he never declares his interest, while all the time spewing bile and simple lies about his accusers. Nor is Morgan alone. As Foreign Affairs magazine noted in 2016, despite noticeable high spots: The Economist, the BBC and the FT, the level of journalistic integrity in the UK was abysmal.   

Journalists have often made the jump to politics, but rarely have so many maintained their income solely from journalism after being elected. Winston Churchill, admired to the point of adulation by our current journalist-Prime Minister, had also been a soldier and successful author as well as a journalist. Now journalists simultaneously prosecute a political career, but they are player and policeman at the same time. Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have long been paid more by their proprietors than by the state for their services and no man can faithfully serve two masters. As the level of journalistic integrity has fallen, so has political propaganda reached new depths of lies and deceit. So too the behaviour of our political leaders focused less on reality and more on selling the story. The citizens of the state, who pay these men to serve them, are being radically short changed.

The twisted agenda of the political-bullshit complex has reached its apogee in the self serving trip of Donald Trump, but The right wing in the UK too has been no less disconnected from reality.  

When Truth is relative and reality subjective, the capacity of the state for injustice is limitless.  Every foundation of our society, from law to science, demands objective standards and a minimum level of integrity in applying them. If our political leaders refuse to apply these standards then they undermine not only their own integrity but also the integrity of the state itself.

That is not a prospect that any democrat can view calmly.



Comments

nigel hunter said…
This is one reason I now do not listen to BBC news or politics programmes(became dissillusioned) Watch C4 now.

Equally all the lies ect of Brexit , falseness, fraud, misinformation may now be starting to come home via Mummery's realisation of the lack of power the country will have after Brexit.Lies always end up being found out cos in the end truth wins out.I believe we are at the start of that process.

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