- IAN BURUMA - in his review of "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by Frank Rich
Bush's speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 was rife with contradiction, factual failures, and impossible connections. For example, the speech stated that Saddam Hussein was not connected to 9/11...and then claimed that the "War on Terror" would be somehow lost if Iraq was deemed a failure.
What was the analysis of the speech? Commentators commented on the quality of the speech. ("Was it a political speech or not?" "Did the President change his polls numbers?" "Did people believe the message?") Very few, it seemed to me, in the mainstream press, spoke simply about how it based on a false conclusion and made false connections. Certainly, there were commentators that did... but it should not only the stuff of the Op-Ed page. If the facts are in question, why is questioning those facts treated as opinion?
Is it possible to have an effective media, cultural dialogue, or democracy when facts are marginalized? Or is the desire for "objective truth" a fool's hope? Is there such a thing as reality, or only versions of reality?
And, of course, are blogs hurting or helping?
One side might argue that blogs create a counterpoint to the mainstream media, provide a team of layman fact-checkers, not beholden to salesmen or advertisers.
One might also argue that the sheer number of voices means that fewer and fewer are heard, and that since messages are narrowcast to niche readers ("Conservatives" vs. "Liberals"); we are all preaching to the converted and disseminating an ever evolving party line.
Personally, I don't believe in the concept of "balance." It creates the illusion that all points should be given equal weight. Truthfully, if an arguement has little or no factual merit, it should be disregarded as in error. Simple. Just because there are two sides of an arguement doesn't mean both sides are equally correct. To pretend that is so is to forgo the toughest part of true analysis... seeking what is true.
In the end...what role do facts truly play? Shouldn't they bethe goal of all media and media consumers?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.