Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Catholics Should Be Wary of These Media Traps During Election Season



The following is excerpted from the chapter “Fake News: How to Navigate the Media” of the new book “For God, Country, & Sanity: How Catholics Can Save America” by Mary Margaret Olohan.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that pretty much no one trusts “the news” anymore.

You can’t really blame the American public for not believing the stories that fill their news feeds when so many legacy newsrooms are filled with activist reporters masquerading as unbiased journalists.

We live in a time when men claim to be women and get away with it, when the innocence of our children is flaunted, when the lives of our unborn children are thrown away, and when government institutions are comfortable attempting to dictate our every move.

And mainstream, legacy, liberal media—whatever you want to call it—they are instrumental in forwarding every one of these causes. More alarmingly, they have been instrumental in deciding the course of our elections, at the local, state, and national levels. Too often, the media are the mouthpiece of the ruling political class, rather than the communicator of facts and truth. 

And yet we know that truth exists. There are real, indisputable facts about the events going on in our country and in our world. We also know that we deserve access to the truth about our politicians and the workings of the state.

What’s more, I’d argue that Catholics have a duty to understand the political world around them, and at the very least, the motivations and determinations of the politicians for whom they are voting.

So, what news sources should Catholic voters be consuming? How do we know who to trust? 

… 

News reporting should be just the facts: What happened, when, where, how, and why. It should include dates, locations, and quotes from people on both sides of the aisle. It shouldn’t include opinion or even that many adjectives!

Analysis examines news reporting and draws conclusions from it. This type of writing is largely based on the facts at hand, but the writer’s opinion on the topic is usually pretty clear.

Commentary writing is a more in-depth, opinionated analysis of something that has already been published. It’s more opinionated than analysis and often written by commentators who regularly write or appear on television.

Op-eds, short for “opposite the editorial page,” are opinion pieces written to sway someone to a particular point of view.

When it comes to trustworthy news reporting, every single claim in a story should be backed up with a source. Asking yourself “According to whom?” will help you figure out if the sentence is actually sourced properly.

The more you ask yourself this, the more you will notice where the sourcing is coming from, perhaps police, local authorities, local government, federal authorities, the White House, a spokesperson, etc. 

Pretty much any news outlet that you can think of leans left or right—very, very rarely do they successfully play it down the middle … . For example, The Washington Post regularly uses the phrase “fetal cardiac activity” to describe an unborn baby’s heartbeat.

This language, and other language, mimics the language of pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood  and the National Abortion Rights Action League—language intended to downplay the humanity of an unborn child.  

The Washington Post also uses the nebulous phrase “gender-affirming care,” an activist phrase intended to gloss over the realities of what that care actually is: irreversible transgender surgeries, hormones, and puberty blockers, even for minors … .

 …

Many media outlets take their cues from progressive activist groups that quite literally tell them how to talk about controversial topics like irreversible transgender procedures, even surgeries, for kids …

Some media outlets and their reporters purposefully propagate false narratives.

This is best exemplified through the media’s treatment of #METOO accuser Christine Blasey Ford and her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when a slew of reporters across mainstream media breathlessly reported on stories that ended up being completely false … .

The 2024 election cycle will almost certainly be filled with more of the same: half-baked truths, salacious stories, and outright lies. It is incredibly important for voters not to jump the gun and to be responsible with what news sources they trust and what news sources they disseminate among their friends and on social media.

Resist the urge to formulate opinions based on headlines—if a headline will impact your opinion on a topic, it certainly seems worthwhile to read the story and ascertain what is or isn’t true about the information you just learned.

And finally, a little plug for my fellow writers and news outlets, when you find news sources that you trust and appreciate, pay for their subscriptions (if you have the means). This helps keep them afloat and allows them to fight the good fight for the truth.