Next newspaper column:
There’s confusion, lately, about journalism versus columnists; between fact and opinion. These examples will clear everything up:
Fact: In last Sunday’s tweet-storm, Trump said journalists who received “Noble” prizes for “fake news” should have them rescinded. Sub-fact: It’s spelled “Nobel.” Co-fact: There’s no Nobel prize for journalism.
Opinion: Trump is losing it at an accelerating rate.
Fact: Trump’s tax cuts produced trillion-dollar budget deficits, with the benefits going mainly to the already-wealthy. Corporate tax cuts created shareholder dividends, windfalls for executives, and stock buybacks, but minimal hiring of or salary increases for workers; thus doing little for the economy.
Opinion: The tax cuts were unnecessary, and detrimental to the future of capitalism. The current crisis shows why tax cuts in economic good times are a bad idea.
Fact: Trump wondered if getting disinfectants into the body, by injection or other unspecified means, and/or shining light inside, would cure the virus. Having both delivered and received endoscopies, up, down, and sideways, we know light entering via whatever orifice won’t illuminate bronchioles and alveoli, where the virus does its worst. Then Trump said it was sarcasm.
Opinion: People who continue to defend Trump should be embarrassed. But he’s giving America multiple sarcasms.
Fact: In medical school, we saw people who’d had disinfectant injected into them. We called them cadavers.
Opinion: Not opinion.
Fact: Trump just said he “created” the “greatest” economy ever.
Opinion: That’s like a new contractor adding the final story onto a skyscraper and claiming credit for designing and building the whole thing.
Fact: Pence said he didn’t wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic so he could “look people in their eyes.”
Opinion: Toady. Flunked anatomy.
Fact: Trump deregulated the pork-producing industry BEFORE Covid-19.
Opinion: Look what happened.
Fact: Kushner/Trump claims the federal response to Covid-19 has been “a great success.”
Opinion: Soviet-style disinformation, which Trumpists will believe.
As to journalists and columnists: the latter… aren’t. That’s why columnists and other opinionations are found on a newspaper’s opinion page, whereas its reporting (journalism) is in front, making it easy to read only news, and to know where to stop. In fact, if one finds particular columnists annoying, it’s medically advisable to ignore them.
A recent spate of emails and letters complaining about the lack of “conservative” voices in this newspaper suggests the need to distinguish between conservatives and Trump supporters. Because you can be one or the other, but not both.
We recall a time when conservatism meant fiscal responsibility. When it disdained the idea of an all-powerful president, and when it understood that an opposing party isn’t an enemy, but a vital component of legislating wisely, via the sort of compromise on which this country was founded.
Years ago, conservatism supported our Constitutionally-mandated separation of powers; believed in Congressional oversight of the executive; understood the indispensable role of inquisitive, skeptical journalism in a democracy, and why it was enshrined in the very first of the Bill of Rights. Once, conservatism included comprehending the value of an independent (and qualified) judiciary; and belief in free and fair elec… okay, maybe not that.
You can support Trump – improbably, millions still do – but you can’t, by any definition, call yourself a conservative: he embodies the opposite in every way. Similarly, Trumpists who claim belief in Jesus can do so only by rejecting His teachings.
This paper carries conservative columnists. Being actual conservatives, they rarely write in support of Trump. Letters from Trump supporters, however, are regularly printed, praising him and, often, announcing cancelation for not having their weltanschauung reinforced. Which, again, is why… oh, well.
If The Herald carries fewer opinions in support of Trump than ones correctly pointing out his unfitness, it has always done journalism; for example, turning up damning information about a recent Democratic county executive. Even when reporting on politicians, if journalism is factual, it’s apolitical. If reporting reveals malfeasance, it’s “fake news” or “bias” only by the malefactor’s definitions.
In covering Trump, balance is impossible: physics teaches us that the occasional ounce of truth can’t nullify a ton of lies. For Trumpists, being presented with opinions they don’t share countervails the value of a local news source. That’s Foxification, personified. (Opinion.)
In a bygone world, none of this would need saying. In Trumpworld, though, wherein facts have given way to fiction, and incompetence (fact) from the White House is both undeniable and denied, the obvious needs stating and restating, over and over.