In his recent commentary, Leonard Pitts suggests that Fox News should not be taken seriously as journalism. To support that premise, he cites repeated instances of the network’s reporting of false information.
What Pitts does not say is why this habit of misrepresenting reality disqualifies Fox News as journalism. The old model insists that reporting be fact-based, complete and objective. What Pitts fails to recognize is that this is the 21st century, and such old-fashioned criteria do not apply.
In today’s world, the standard is “truthiness,” the concept introduced by Charleston’s own Stephen Colbert and defined as “truth that comes from the gut, not books.” It is a term perfectly suited to the age. Wikipedia explains “Truthiness” as information presented “without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.” The American Dialect Society calls it “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”
Truthiness is what we want in today’s world, and Fox News is its leading exponent. The network’s motto, “We Report, You Decide,” fits the model perfectly. In practice, it becomes, “We Report What You Should Decide.” And since network and viewers agree at the outset, the operation succeeds brilliantly.
In today’s fast-paced world of information overload, we no longer have time for or interest in facts and ideas that we do not need and certainly do not want. Fox News tells us what we want to hear.
So, Mr. Pitts, what’s wrong with that?