How do we know what we know? In the wake of Donald Trump’s US election victory, journalists and pollsters around the world are asking this question.
We judge people by what they say they will do. In Trump’s case, that is a variable. We also look at data. The data tells us that Trump’s victory was not a “landslide”, so the idea that anyone who opposed him is discredited electorally or in terms of the positions they hold does not follow.
What’s more, there are still facts. If those protesting against Trump’s election are not paid to do so, then calling them “professional protesters” is a travesty. And such lies have consequences.
When the government of Myanmar treats everyone in its province of Rakhine as a separatist militant, or the Syrian regime dismisses those who oppose it as “terrorists”, the same sins of commission and omission are perpetrated.
And, it should be said, that when people are called “deplorables” that is also a travesty.
But when someone asks a tough question and is dismissed by saying “she had blood coming out of her eyes . . . out of her wherever”, then the media is also obliged to call that what it is. “Deplorable” is one word for it.
As the far right continues its march in France, the challenge will certainly be to bring the narrative of those voting for Marine Le Pen to our audiences – but also to make it clear when that narrative deviates not only from facts but also from the basic decency which every member of society is entitled to expect.
A tough task, but still a worthwhile and exciting one.
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