Guest column: Missing facts harm fair reporting

Mike KnaakColumn, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

Ron Stewart, St. Joseph

I was fascinated by the opinion piece by Mike Knaak, “News has no ‘sides.’ Only facts” and came away thinking, if only this were true.

Why do I question his supposition? The answer is easy and obvious: Whose facts? Which facts are presented and which facts are omitted? 

There is a reason the news media is not well trusted. 

As one who consumes his news from several sources, those deemed liberal and conservative and some seen as neutral, I can say with a whole lot of certainty that what impresses me the most is that pertinent facts are often omitted and/or dropped to the last paragraphs of an article.  

Let me say this in defense of Fox News: I understand clearly the conservative leanings of the network – but there is just as strong, if not stronger, leaning leftward on MSNBC and CNN. It’s interesting to hear the news analysis on those two networks as they repeat verbatim the daily or weekly “talking points” of the Democratic National Committee. They can do this, of course, but their facts are generally the facts that support a liberal agenda. 

If I want to get a more complete picture of the facts I find it helpful to include Fox News as part of my information diet. I can tell the difference between news and opinion. 

Jake Tapper of CNN admitted in an interview in Rolling Stone that he let President Obama get away with incorrect or false statements because he liked the president. Facts?

Contrast this with a Harvard study that news reports about President Trump were 90 percent negative. Consider that when 20 neo-Nazis staged a protest the press was all over this as though 20 people represented the conservative movement. At the same time when Antifa, a radical left-wing anarchist group causes physical destruction on college campuses, it has been pretty much ignored, or worse, blamed on the Young Campus Republicans because they invited a conservative speaker to their campus. Remember when free speech meant free speech for diverse viewpoints?

And for the comment that we old, unsophisticated, computer- illiterate folks, get most of our fake news from social media how about the 66 percent of millennials who don’t know what happened at Auschwitz or the 40 percent of young adults who think George W. Bush killed more people than Stalin or Mao? Personally, I think that reference to seniors was unnecessary and demeaning. 

Facts may be facts but it comes down to whose facts. Watch CNN and MSNBC, I have no problem with that…Listen to PBS (I do) but let me recommend you broaden your perspective. Missing facts are just as important as the presented facts. And if the news outlets would be more careful to include facts from multiple sources maybe the news media would have a higher trust rating from the public.

I am not writing this to defend President Trump. He is often his own worst enemy and each  president needs to be scrutinized.  What I want to point out is that the evidence (factual) is strong that many news stories are incomplete because certain facts are not reported. 

Author: Mike Knaak

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