Just because phrases are written in ALL CAPS or bold-faced or in red doesn’t mean the wild charges have basis. It just means someone feels really strongly about the subject and they want you to feel strongly about it too.
Most times I’m able to press delete and move on from the FW: FW: FW:s that come unbidden to my inbox from well-meaning friends. Perhaps I’ll raise an eyebrow or shake my head as I learn more of the political leanings of those friends, but I know enough not to argue with someone taken in by someone else’s political rantings.
Except for this one time.
It was the time the forward charged our nation’s president with all sorts of things that would bring the world as we know it to an end. Something about his radical attempt to ensure every U.S. citizen has access to medical care — that idea that Congress handled with such grace. And competence.
The letter was prefaced with the comment that the New York Times refused to run it so it was up to concerned citizens of the world to forward the letter, thereby thwarting the media’s attempt to hide what was really going on.
And I guess there was this one other time.
It was the time when the article full of exclamation points and CAPITAL LETTERS twisted a years-old statement of the president. That letter was prefaced with the comment that we need to forward it to everyone we know because the liberal media had their eyes closed to what was really going on and that something had to be done about the liberal media.
Those times I had to say something. Not so much to defend the president, though I did that too, as to set the record straight on the media.
I know enough about the liberal media from my close proximity to it to be convinced that 1: If they don’t run a letter there is a reason, and 2: If there is bad news about the president, any president, they will run it IF IT IS TRUE. Now I’m doing it.
There’s where the FW: FW: FW:s have their advantage — and their disadvantage.
With their anonymity and subsequent lack of accountability, their freedom to select their choice of facts and play with them at will, their apparent unconcern over slander or libel laws, they can say things that are exaggerated, misrepresented, wrong. And they do.
So could I just say here that those who are interested in news should go to a news source? Perhaps one that doesn’t use exclamation points. Perhaps not a talk show or a comedy routine or an angry liberal or an angry conservative or an anonymous frustrated e-mail writer.
The media is and has been controversial and individual journalists have and will have opinions.
But there is a high standard in journalism. A standard of accuracy and of fairness that other sources can bend or stretch or twist, but that legitimate news sources work hard to meet. Some will scoff at that, noting — accurately — that opinions can seep in to news stories from writers who have individual biases or who are so close to the issues, the candidates and the stories that they develop them. But compare your TIME magazines of the world to your e-mail forwards and you’ll see how news varies from hyperbole.
Then choose news.