On News and Fakeness

It was a nightly ritual for the family in which I grew up. My father would watch the news, first with Walter Cronkite on CBS, then Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC. The the network news teams would bring their view to the small screen, with such as Irving R. Levine, Sander Vanocur, Roger Mudd, Edwin Newman, Richard Throellkell, and other luminaries of 1960’s and 1970’s broadcast journalism. It seemed as if these men (and a few women, too, although I do not remember their names) were the pulse, the heartbeat of information in America, and if they reported it, it was important to every citizen. Well I remember the night when Neil Armstrong stepped out of the moon lander onto the surface of the moon, and Walter Cronkite sat in almost speechless wonder any what was transpiring at that moment.

But times have changed. Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley, Mudd … they have all faded from the scene. Perhaps I am off the mark here, but no one in the industry has really arisen to take their places. Some may offer Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw, but given the situation with information dissemination these days, it seems that the “news” is less about the integrity of the story and more about the political spin to achieve specific agenda-driven talking points, which is not true journalism but political correctness typed into the teleprompter or the fodder of another one of those news-talk-panelist things purporting to bring some kind of clarity to what is happening in the country.

The uproar over “fake news” has become a national headline, whether intentional or not. Someone is accused of doing something apparently illegal or unethical, but tomorrow the push-back is the whole thing is just “fake news”. It sounds, often, like a perpetuation of Chicken Little crying today “the sky is falling” and the next day saying it was only an acorn that fell — and it fell because global warming is tearing up the planet. More news sources spring up regularly, some advocating for conservative views, others for liberal positions, all saying they are not doing fake news at all, until the battle starts and the accusations fly of what was reported was fake, the rejoinder of denial, and the second volley of fake followed by more, carefully worded denials often thinly disguised spin to cover up the fact that, yes, indeed, it was fake.

Lately, my news reading has diminished to headline scanning, the “photos of the day” and a quick look at how the Los Angeles Dodgers fared the night before. Maybe I am shorting myself by not reading more on the national and international situations, but my trust level in the main stream media, and in the self-presenting conservative outlets, is thin and wispy. When the headline claims the Senator Conservative said this one thing and the liberals are devastated, and the story is that one liberal got upset over what was said, it makes one wonder if news has deteriorated into sensationalism for the sake of “made you look”. The last news item I read in any deep detail was on a recall of pick-up trucks for a sensor failure. It is not that I am blind and deaf to the political climate in the world today, nor that I am apathetic to what happens around me; it has come to my skepticism as to who is telling me the truth and who is trying to propagandize me in order to sway my thinking. Some might say I can’t preach to the people if I am not aware of the world’s happenings. I’ve come to the conclusions the headlines say it all, and if deeper information is needed, somewhere on the internet, with or without the help of Siri, I can find out what I need.

It ought to come as no surprise this world is spiraling out of control, despite peace accords, treaties, trade agreements, United Nations peacekeeping forces and military alliances. God’s Word made it clear what things would be like in the latter days, and yes, the Bible was spot-on. People have become lovers of themselves; has there ever been the depth of hedonism paraded across the public eye as it is today. People are even more lovers of money, which includes welfare fraud and rip-off scams. Go through the list in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 and it is as if the apostle Paul had a prescience about what is printed in the news and playing out in the communities across America.

Th truth is, Paul had more than a “prescience”; he was prophesying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He was moved upon by the Spirit to sound a warning about how humanity would be the closer to the end of time we spun. While I am not a doomsday prophet nor a sensationalist teacher on things prophetic, I am persuaded the prophetic clock is signaling imminence and things ominous. The decline of the institutional church in this country, so awash in everything “Christian” is offset by the rise of the faith in third-world nations often beset by intense persecution and ideological controls. It may well be that my American hermeneutical positioning gives me a much different slant than the views of a pastor in some remote, under-developed area where no vehicle exists for spreading the thoughts of world politics and its demanded correctness. Nevertheless, one thing does remain in play here — the world is not going to get any better, and Jesus Christ will return for His true Church, the ones who have pursued holiness, knowing that without it they will not see God (Hebrews 12:14).

Fake news or accurate reporting — when it comes to the stuff coming through the secular outlets, one has to shrug and wonder which is real and which is spin. My hope and my trust is not in the nightly news, the various news magazines, or in any of the newspapers, and I have no thoughts of messianism for any of those reading the news copy off the teleprompter or writing their op-ed rants in a sympathetic venue. The only hope for this planet is Jesus Christ. Increasingly, He is rejected and marginalized as irrelevant. Imagine the headlines when what the skeptics doubted proves to be undeniably true.