Can Reality Survive?

Headline: “The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it.”

A lot has changed since I was college-age, about seventy years ago. In those days I had never heard of “a wild fish.” Nor had I heard of “reality-based journalists.” Is there now a special course on reality in journalism schools? Is it possible to concentrate in this branch of journalism?

In college I read John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty.” I was convinced by Mill’s belief that free speech was desirable because, in the clash of discourse, truth will shine forth. I remember the quote from Voltaire, “I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.”

This sort of sentiment became my creed, but, weirdly, it’s beginning to seem quaint. A great swath of media outlets and malevolent provocateurs constantly spew forth lies and conspiracy theories with no factual basis. Large segments of the population live in disinformation bubbles. If Orwell were alive, he’d have all the material he needs to write a sequel to 1984.

Reality-based journalists have their work cut out for them.