In the last six months or so, two of my Facebook friends have said essentially the same thing about experts. Each was tired of having people interject their professional credentials into an argument, e.g., “as a structural engineer, I think,” or, “as a former anesthesiologist, my opinion is….” I don’t know what my two friends’ objections to this bit of rank-pulling were, because they didn’t say, as people often do when a point is obvious on the one hand – or indefensible on the other.
My position was and remains the opposite of theirs. I want to hear from experts. I was born in an era when the opinions of fools were confined to the editorial page of the newspaper, and only then when the editor-in-chief gave permission. Then along came the internet and changed all that. Today we have the democratization of opinions, where every idiot’s idea is every bit as valid as every other idiot’s idea, which is, in turn, as valid as any expert’s idea. “One man one vote,” so to speak.
Well I say rubbish. I’m going to take the financial advice of Warren Buffett long before I listen to your Uncle Jimmy, who only just recently read a whole book about the stock market. And my board certified podiatrist is the guy I go to for any running injuries I may pick up, so keep your vibrating Reiki hands to yourself, thank you.
The people at the Washington Post are experts, men and women of impeccable credentials, unassailable integrity and world class standards for journalism. They do not do fake news, they are expert journalists who report the truth, and when they occasionally get it wrong they admit it and print retractions. That’s the difference between fake news and real news, and I am sick to death of the prevailing toleration of any confusion about that.
According to the Washington Post, not only has Donald Trump passed the 10,000 mark in terms of lies and misstatements uttered, he is telling lies and misstatements at an ever-increasing rate. This is both revealing and alarming. It means Trump is getting bolder, and is more comfortable with telling lies. This simply would not have been the case forty years ago, when the Fairness Doctrine was the rule of the day and fools were to be seen but not heard. The press of yesterday would shout such idiocy into embarrassed silence. Politicians back then were crucified when caught in a lie back then, and rightly so. We didn’t put up with such crap then and we shouldn’t put up with such crap today either.
The most important part of Washington Post’s announcement that Donald Trump’s lies have entered the double digits of thousands was the bit at the bottom most readers probably missed. It says there, “Note: The Fact Checker welcomes academic research into the Trump claims database.” That is the kind of thing people who know they are telling the truth say. Fake news, on the other hand, is like Trump. Fake news pleads the Fifth. The Washington Post welcomes challenges to their conclusions. It’s what honest people do. It only makes me sad that I need to point this out.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.