Do purveyors of news – ‘Reporters’ – care more about truth – or the message they want to promote? Peter Sammons looks at …..
A mistrusted profession
There is little doubt that people in the West generally (and this may be replicated everywhere across planet Earth) have little time for journalists and ‘reporters’. Along with estate agents and second hand car salesmen (here in the UK) they enjoy a proverbially low reputation. As Christians, however, we must be careful not to ‘tar everyone with the same brush’. After all, most of us have bought a second hand car and many a house!
Yet as regards professional ‘journalists’ (we’ll use that term in this article) it is undeniable that there is a case to answer. No huge surprise, here, and most readers will likely have their own opinion of journalists and journalism (where did that ‘ism’ come from?). How does journalism relate to Islamism, Buddhism, Communism, Monetarism, Scientism, etc?
The first recorded words of Satan are a lie (Genesis 3: 1). Jesus called Satan a liar and the father of lies (John 8: 44). From this Christians understand that absolutely all untruth – no exceptions – has ultimately one source. And everything that Satan ‘offers’ ultimately is a lie, and will crumble into dust in the fullness of time.
So what is the key problem today? We hear stories, of course, of fake news and most of us can recognize the issue, if not always where truth lies. Almost forgotten just now, the Brexit political debate saw many lies being told (it must be said, by both sides) and project fear was unquestionably an orchestrated government and establishment tool based on pretty blatant untruths! Most egregiously, perhaps, in the clear establishment statement that the EU had no military ambition, nor dimension. Some have wondered whether, less clearly, the recent Covid episode has been used in similar fashion – to promote certain sectional agendas (internationalism) and to settle old scores (‘underfunding’ of the NHS and ‘demonizing’ the UK government).
The World and its God
“The World” lives in permanent opposition to God. I use this term precisely as the Bible means it – all those individuals and all those structures that live in primary opposition to the Creator God. The Creator God self-identifies as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. In close to two dozen places in Scripture, the Lord is referred to in this precise way (e.g. Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:15; Acts 7:32). Interestingly, God is also referred to simply as the God of Jacob – see Psalm 75: 9. That very narrow definition requires some thought – why JUST Jacob? I will leave readers to ponder the hidden meaning there …….
As a truism, it might be observed that where “the World” is agreed upon ANYTHING, whatever that thing may be, it will be, ultimately, opposed to the purposes of our Creator God. As we ponder this, we might reflect on all those areas where there is broad international agreement in the strange days in which we now live. How many agendas are being promoted and worked through in this world where there is broad worldly agreement? How many of those agendas are opposed to God’s expressed purposes? And how many of those agendas are vigorously, and indeed largely, promoted by the so-called MSM comprised of that species “journalist”?
The Economist (18 July 2020) has an interesting article on the retreat of objectivity in modern reporting. This is, perhaps, not overly surprising, as all journalists have opinions and it is difficult to hermetically seal oneself from one’s personal opinions. (My opinion, for a start, if you have not already guessed it; journalists routinely lie!). We all know that in the UK, if one buys The Daily Telegraph or The Daily Mail, one is buying a Tory organ and its opinions will reinforce its readers’ political leanings. If one buys The Daily Express or The Guardian one is buying a Labour organ and – equally – its content will reinforce its dedicated readers’ political views. Of course the BBC is supposed to be strictly impartial under the terms of its government ‘license’…… but its ‘impartiality’ has been under the spotlight for at least two full generations, as doubts have grown. The broad consensus today is that the BBC presents a leftist, postmodern, increasingly woke and arguably Culturally Marxist, world-view.
The Economist notes that reporters are meant to be objective, but today journalists perceive the distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ as obvious or self-evident, and consequently they expect to report their view of what is right. A rising generation of journalists question whether, in a hyper-partisan digital world, objectivity is even desirable: “American view-from-nowhere, objectivity-obsessed, both- sides journalism is a failed experiment” says 30 year old Wesley Lowery, a reporter at CBS News. The dean of Columbia Journalism School described objectivity as an “inherited shibboleth” in a recent message to students.
It was not until the 19th century that journalism became objective – and that, largely at the behest of advertisers, who wanted their products to appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers. Prior to this journalism had been highly partisan (non-objective) in a fragmented news market – not dissimilar to today’s. Only in the 1920s did objectivity gain almost universal currency in the West. A test of news objectivity was the Russian Revolution where the New York Times’ coverage was rife with unconscious bias – it was a case of “seeing” what reporters wanted to “see”. Interestingly the communist threat was a spur to objectivity and seen as a bulwark against communist theory.
The Trump era in the USA has spurred something different; a belief that the “truth” is more important than objectivity or fairness. Trump is seen as a demon who must be opposed by any means, fair or foul. The stakes, you see, are far too high for truthfulness to prevail …. Britain’s BBC purports to “fact-check” and has part of its hegemonistic website given over to “fact-checking” other news sources. Is this the same BBC that has told our children that there are 100 gender identities?! https://www.christian.org.uk/news/bbc-tells-kids-there-are-more-than-100-gender-identities/ . One cannot help but perceive the BBC’s “facts” as, too often, (im)pure Cultural Marxist propaganda.
The news you’re not hearing
“I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth …” It is possible to “tell lies” whilst simultaneously using “truth”. The widely used term for this in the West, at the turn of the century, was “spin”. Some politicians used to lament that they were “more spinned against, than spinning”, and perhaps they were right. The term is rarely used these days, perhaps because so much of western MSM is, in reality, “spin”.
To deny the populace the stories that matter and instead to present a post-modern woke agenda may be morally analogous to lying. Readers must make up their own minds about that, but some stories you have not seen represented in mainstream British media in Q1 and Q2 2020 were:
* the fact that 70 to 100M people have had their heads pushed below absolute poverty by the West’s response to Covid: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/brief/projected-poverty-impacts-of-COVID-19 . This may rise to 400M: https://theconversation.com/global-poverty-coronavirus-could-drive-it-up-for-the-first-time-since-the-1990s-140662
* the fact that Israel sufferings daily arson attacks
* that fact that there are many virtually no-go areas in France https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-french-city-zones-where-police-rarely-escape-unscathed due to poor immigrant assimilation
* the fact that China is throwing its weight around in Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Japan-must-curb-Chinese-aggression-surrounding-the-Senkaku-Islands and the USA has recently beefed up its military in the region
* the fact that the UK is running short of water resources
https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/uks-looming-water-crisis and relies for 50% of its food on foreign imports (how reliable, long term?).
* India-Pakistan tensions rising, despite Covid https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-will-coronavirus-prevent-pakistan-and-india-going-to-war-this-summer-1.8804261
* slavery still exists in Mauritania: http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2012/03/world/mauritania.slaverys.last.stronghold/index.html
* non-consenting euthanasia is on the increase wherever “assisted suicide” has become law https://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2020/02/government-permits-euthanasia-of.html
Readers will have to make up their own minds about the reticence of UK media to report these things, but could it be that each story is a challenge to its broadly Cultural-Marxist MSM world-view? In this uni-polar “world-view” there is only one over-arching enemy (the West itself, personified by Donald Trump) which is an oppressor of everyone else. News, then, that might suggest our world is in reality a far more complicated place, “spoils” and undermines that MSM agenda.
Truth is a central feature of the Bible:
An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. Proverbs 12:17
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
It seems that ordinary joe-public news consumers will have to become more assiduous in searching out the truth in the years ahead, as our “journalists” are ever more reluctant to report it ……
The second half of this article will be in October 2020.
Peter Sammons is commissioning editor at Christian Publications International. He is author of “Rebel Church” (2013), “The Prince of Peace” (2015) and “Three Days and Three Nights – That Changed the World (co-authored with David Serle) in 2019.