Claims of “fake news” and attacks on the media at the national level undermine democracy.
What we think:
At the local level, civil discourse and collaboration are vital to economic growth and development. We should set the example — not follow the national trends.
Last weekend, the nation was treated to a video tweeted by both the official White House account and Donald Trump’s personal Twitter feed. The subject: a doctored video filmed a decade ago when Trump was a regular on World Wrestling Entertainment.
The WWE video originally had him fighting owner Steve McMahon, but was changed to show him taking on CNN. As a free speech exercise, it was demeaning both to the presidency and the national discourse. It’s disturbing to see and hear the negative tone from the White House, the name-calling, the backstabbing, the omnipresent “fake news” accusations every time there’s a news story the president doesn’t like.
We just celebrated the nation’s birthday on Tuesday. And we enjoyed backyard barbecues and fireworks shows while one of the nation’s founding pillars is under attack at the highest levels of government.
There is fake news out there: InfoWars pushing a story claiming there are pedophile rings on Mars is just the latest — and one of the most ridiculous. (PizzaGate, also propagated by InfoWars, led to a man’s arrest when he drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., to break up a child molestation ring operating out of a pizza parlor. The story was false, as are stories about the Sandy Hook shooting being faked to promote gun control laws.)
This dialogue isn’t productive; it’s not good for the country; it dumbs down the presidency and only feeds the national cable news frenzy. And there’s a real danger that this level of negative dialogue and media mistrust can filter down into local politics and those who cover it.
If you don’t like the way a story is covered, that doesn’t mean it’s not factual. If a media commentator says or prints something you disagree with, that doesn’t make it fake. The constant undermining of the Fourth Estate weakens democracy.
It’s not what we need here in Colorado Springs. We’ve seen what backbiting between mayor and city council does to the economy, business growth, the city’s reputation across the state and the nation.
For now, those arguments and disagreements seem to be behind us. Let’s work to keep it that way. If we can find common ground even with people we disagree with, we should find it.
And if we can keep the disagreements civil and respectful, then the conversations will be more productive. No matter what the conversation sounds like at the national level, Colorado Springs is better than that. We might have disagreements with friends and neighbors, business contacts and community leaders — and the news media — but there’s more that brings us together than divides us. With major issues still to be resolved, it’s time for a reminder that we want what’s best for the city. The media’s job is to cover those issues and how they are being addressed. Our job is to reflect the community we cover. If you think the news is negative, community leaders, business owners and politicians should work to change the community.
Negative conversations, finger-pointing and name-calling — and claiming fake news at every turn — won’t solve problems. Collaboration, honest dialogue and compromise will.