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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: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or


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

For more from the same column, click here