Category Archives: politics

Why Words Matter

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard a little something about “Fake News.” Everybody from the President to your grandmother is talking about it. The problem is that the truth about legitimate journalism is being distorted by this oft-repeated sound bite that is continually misapplied to cover a broad array of concepts. As a writer who respects the power of language, this is deeply troubling. As a citizen who demands a free press, it is frightening.

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Regardless of whom you voted for, today’s barring of several major news organizations from a White House briefing should give you pause.

Words matter. Labels matter. So let’s be clear.

Fake News should be reserved for stories that are completely unfounded in fact and/or rely upon phony sources (which differ from anonymous sources).

Biased Reporting should be used to describe articles that are based on facts but written with a slant toward a particular opinion.

The protection of “Anonymous Sources” is vital to a free press, with few legal exceptions. This concept allows whistleblowers (like Deep Throat) to come forward with legitimate information without fear of reprisal. Using an anonymous source does not constitute “Fake News” absent unethical behavior by the journalist and editor of a particular media outlet. Most long-standing, legitimate news organizations have very strict rules about using such sources. See, for example, NPR’s, the New York Times’s, and Reuters’ rules about using such sources.

The current administration’s attempt to discredit and censor news outlets that heavily scrutinize it just because those outlets occasionally use anonymous sources to get at the truth signals an attempt to control which news we have access to read or hear. It demonstrates a desire to manage information and messaging so that it can do as it pleases while keeping us ignorant. It feels like an attempt to indoctrinate us so that it can broaden its power and reach without being questioned and checked.

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The lack of willingness for transparency is unprecedented. Every single prior administration has dealt with the same reporting and biases (from one side or the other) of long-standing media outlets, yet managed to have faith in the American people to sort fact from fiction and form their own opinions.

For me, when a President attempts to shut down the free press, it sends up a huge red flag. What is he hiding? If he’s so righteous, and his policies and actions above reproach, then why not allow all the press in to see and report it? The irony of Trump enjoying campaign help from the very kinds of leaks and sources he now wants to quash is not lost, either.

We don’t have to agree on policy or be affiliated with the same party in order to agree, at a minimum, on the necessity of a free press to protect a vibrant democracy and exchange of ideas.

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So please, the next time you read or hear the term “Fake News,” stop and question whether it is actually fake or merely biased. Even if you support Trump and his agenda, demand that all legitimate investigative media be invited to the White House, if for no other reason than to preserve democracy. Those of you who support the conservative agenda will want this fairness when Democrats are in control one day (and, as we all know, the pendulum swings back and forth with regularity).

Do not let one small group of men determine where you get your information. Let your voice be heard now or risk being silenced.

xo-Jamie

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The Daily Struggle

I never intended to use this blog for political purposes. Even now, this post is not really intended as political commentary as much as a plea for personal responsibility.

Like so many, I am dismayed by the way current leaders are trampling upon the very freedom that made this nation great, in some twisted attempt to strengthen and protect us. I’m saddened by the lack of compassion I see, and by the way people are pointing fingers, blaming others for the problems in their lives and in our country. Disgusted by the superiority (moral, ethical, and educational) that leaders on both sides of every issue claim. And depressed that anyone is looking to these so-called leaders to save him—to save “us.”

None of us is perfect. None of us has all the answers. Yet, despite all the infighting, I still believe all of us want the same things: opportunity, freedom, and peace. You’d think that, given that truth, it shouldn’t be so hard to make it happen. Of course, it’s immensely complicated, and is made more complicated when divisive language is used to separate us.

So with no answers to the bigger problems our country faces, here is the one and only thing I know: the most important step to making my life, my community, and my country better is taking responsibility for my role.

My future is dependent on every decision I make every day of my life. When I meet with an obstacle, do I point the finger and blame, or do I take action to remove or jump over that obstacle? When I see injustice, do I sit back and watch it, or do I get involved and seek change? Do I let other people tell me what to think, or do I read and become educated and allow myself to be persuaded by cogent arguments? Do I ask for help when I need it? Am I willing to be wrong or say I’m sorry? Am I willing to work hard for what I want? Am I wasteful of my talents and resources? Am I willing to recognize that fear and prejudice aren’t good starting points for forming opinions and making decisions?

When I read through that list, I can claim high marks on some, less so on others. But if I dedicate myself to improving my personal score on all counts, I’m pretty sure my family, my neighborhood, and my community will be better off. And if everyone in those subsystems also focused on personal accountability, we’d see big positive changes in a relatively short span of time.

There’s a reason I write love stories. I believe that good should triumph. I believe in happy endings. And I believe that we all have the power to ensure both of those things come true. So tell me, what one thing might you do differently to make your life (and the country) a better place?

XO-Jamie

Democracy Requires Respect

I doubt I’m alone in feeling a great deal of trepidation as we look forward to tomorrow’s election. At fifty, I can’t recall another instance in my lifetime where I’ve seen such contention and divisiveness between candidates and their supporters.

Facebook is no longer a fun space because people bully and belittle each other. No surprise, I suppose, because the candidates trash the other’s supporters, too. Media consultants speak over each other and trade put-downs. In truth, no one has really shown anyone with a different opinion any respect. In that way, everyone has been “deplorable.”47229718_s

The funny thing is that, the great majority of us are probably in the same boat: neither candidate represents our agenda or interests. Maybe you’re a moderate Republican (like me), who believes in small government, lower taxes, but also supports gay rights, is pro-choice, and wants tighter gun control. Or maybe you’re a moderate Democrat, who thinks taxes should go up for some, but spending should be cut, too. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, because we are each entitled to our opinions (and hopefully those opinions are based on something more than mere media soundbites).

What we aren’t entitled to is being so hateful toward each other. First of all, it’s just rude. Why does anyone think its okay to demean another person’s opinion or vote? Does a person who disparages another person actually feel better about himself? Picking on someone else as being “stupid” for his or her differing opinion does not persuade anyone that your opinion is correct, does it? It just makes you a bully. Don’t be a bully. Don’t make people feel stupid just because they like something about a candidate that you don’t like or understand.

Secondly, this belittling is dangerous and bad for the country. We are 300 million people and growing. There will never be a time when we are 100% unified on any topic, but we still have to live with and work together. We have to try to find the middle ground so progress can happen. To find middle ground, we have to be able to actually listen to and understand that other side’s grievances. The failure of the parties to work together this past decade has led us to this terrible place (in my opinion). I hope this election is a wake-up call to BOTH sides of the aisle. We need leadership to step toward each other or this democracy will collapse.

Our forefathers gave us power but, by and large, the vast majority (myself included) doesn’t exercise it enough. The bottom line is that, if we the people are unhappy with our choices, it is because most of us have failed to stay informed and involved all along. It is not fair to spew hate and anger if we’ve never read a paper, called a representative, or otherwise participated in the process on a more regular basis.

My biggest wish for tomorrow is that—no matter who wins, or how disappointed we may be—we take a deep breath, we get more involved in politics by staying informed, writing to our representatives, and taking advantage of the right to be proactive in the process, and we refrain from making ugly statements about the winner and his or her supporters.

In other words, it starts with your vote, but it doesn’t end there.

XO-Jamie

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