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Idea of the Day: Reality Should be the Ground Rule for Debate

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There has been a growing list of fake facts dominating the news over the past year. Already on the list are death panels, a foreign-born president, the hoax of global warming, and rampant discrimination against white people. Now we can add a new fake fact: President Obama is a Muslim. Despite the obvious truth that there is nothing wrong with having a Muslim president, the reality is that Obama is a Christian. Most Americans know this, but over the past year a growing minority seem to have misremembered his religion.

In order to have a healthy democracy, we need to know what is factually true and what isn’t. Reality needs to be a ground rule for debate. Otherwise, everything is up for grabs. The news media bears measurable blame for spreading—and not correcting—misinformation, distortions, and lies. From blogs and tweets to websites and videos, the Internet supports many silly and dangerous views. We need the news media to be a reliable filter, not merely a megaphone. It’s their job to clear up the pollution by distinguishing fact from fiction. This goes beyond partisan debate. It’s in the self-interest of conservatives, liberals, and progressives to do so. Otherwise, we are on shaky ground.

For more on this topic please see:

- The Latest Fake Fact by Sally Steenland

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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