OPINION: Alternative Facts Don’t Exist

March 21, 2023 By Michael Weymouth

It used to be that facts were at the root of our public discourse. But no longer. Facts have become what people choose to believe, as too many of them seek confirmation of their world view wherever they can find it. When a news source bases its reporting and commentary on that need and is willing to feed misinformation to its audience, then facts no longer matter, and when that happens, it becomes impossible to have a constructive conversation with someone with an opposing view.

Even my smartest conservative friends refuse to rely on fact check sites such as Snopes, Politico or factcheck.org to settle issues, claiming that they are no more than biased liberal voices. No matter how solid you think your argument is, to them there is always an opposing view to be considered. The term “alternate facts” applies.

The latest kerfuffle with FOX commentator Tucker Carlson’s attempt to reframe the January 6 insurrection as a peaceful tour through the US capitol is a case in point. The axiom “seeing is believing” is out the window it seems, even though it used to be the finite determinate for a fact. If you actually saw it, in this case the insurrection, as millions of us did on national TV, then it had to be true.

And yet the vast FOX audience is being told otherwise, and you would think that each and every one of them would know the sanitized version Carlson has presented is not what they saw take place on live TV. And so the beat goes on. If you can’t even admit that what you actually saw is true, what hope is there?

The answer, when beginning a conversation, is to acknowledge that there is only one set of facts, and once this is acknowledged, it is how well versed you are in those facts that underpins a discussion.

It should come as no surprise that this is exactly how every educational classroom in America works.

3 thoughts on “OPINION: Alternative Facts Don’t Exist”

  1. The Carlson clips of the January insurrection depicted one extreme to illustrate how selective snippets, either video or oral, can be misleading. Viewing the Carlson clips would prompt one to conclude that the demonstration was peaceful.

    The antithesis of the Carlson videos were the January 6th Committee version which would prompt one to conclude the Capital was under siege, and that it would soon fall under the control of a belligerent mob.

    Both videos represent two extreme narratives of the actual situation.

    As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between.

    Many of the conclusions in the Weymouth piece are fraught with opinions, not facts. But that conversation is for another day.

    • The videos presented by the January 6th Committee were gathered from many sources, some security cameras from different positions, some taken by the participants and news organizations, and represent exactly what we saw with our own eyes as we watched it on TV. The scenes were vile, violent, and very much beyond “belligerent!” The deaths, injuries, damage, and spoken intentions were caused by a violent group, and did, in fact, represent the intention to disrupt the validation by Mike Pence of Joe Biden as President. The threat to him, the insurrectionists chanting, “hang Mike Pence” was clearly heard, and the construction of the gallows for such a crime were clearly seen. The truth of the videos, the evidence presented, and the witnesses from the Trump Administration validated, and continue to validate how threatening the siege was. Many of those arrested have admitted guilt and are in jail. Truth and facts have no “alternative” representation except for one media group which has edited the original videos to try to manipulate the truth for political purpose.
      FACTS count.


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