Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We'd have to Muzzle Donald if We Muzzled things like this

   You would ask, wouldn't you?, whether it is ethical of new organizations to print the damaging but unsubstantiated accusations against Donald Trump. Should BuzzFeed have printed the whole document of accusations? Should CNN have carried the synopsis? Should the rest of the media be printing, announcing and disclosing the information?
   I read one authoritative person saying you don't print what you don't know to be fact.
   This is not the first time the appropriateness of covering something has been questioned. Often, those who would suppress things are accused of "sanitizing" the news.
   No, this is not a new situation we find ourselves in. Are we suggesting the rules should be changed? Because up till now, when accusations have been made against high government officials, they surely do constitute news. They certainly are covered. But, rather that just printing the accusations, the good practice is to get both sides of the story. You ask the person being attacked -- in this case, Donald Trump -- to respond to the accusations, answering each of them.
   You don't suppress the news; you cover both sides.
   Yes, it is wrong for anyone to make false accusations. Yes, false accusations amount to fake news. Yes, rumors and false information can be very damaging. Ask Hillary, for while I would suggest a portion of what has been said against her has been true, other things have been very damaging falsehoods.
   But, once an accusation is made by a source that has authority -- and a British intelligence person so qualifies -- you deal with it by being fair and seeking both sides of the story. You attempt to get to the bottom of the accusation rather than not printing it.
   You do your best to determine if the accusation is true or not, rather than sitting on the story. If only completely verified information could be printed and spoken, well, we'd have to put a muzzle on a lot of things that this very same Donald Trump comes up with.

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