Is being fair old-fashioned?
It is a common affliction among the elderly: the older we get, the less we know.
Once upon a time, society took a kindly view of this and labelled it wisdom.
Today, the world is not as charitable.
If you are not completely certain about everything, you find yourself in the middle of many arguments, increasingly a no-win situation.
Once, that was called being reasonable and open-minded. Many newspaper editors have traditionally been comfortable in this place, despite some appearances.
Today, especially on social media, where there is more writing than reading, more venting than reflecting, more talking than listening, it’s not so easy.
Some will i mmediately co-opt you — unwillingly — to their side. Others will accuse you of aligning with the enemy, even if you are not.
The majority on both sides will charge you with ignorance, and worse, having an agenda, because you don’t vociferously agree with everything they have to say.
It matters not if the debate is about Hamilton LRT, Canadian parliamentary politics, European unity, international trade or planetary climate change. We live in an increasingly polarized world.
Let’s take, for example, the matter of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia, a worldwide debate that reached another new crescendo this week.
Despite what may be indications to the contrary, I like to think most journalists are undecided on Trump’s involvement.
To be sure, there is a lot of smoke — but no fire.
And true, each day the billow gets a little higher, much of it fanned by Trump himself. But good journalists are skeptical of everything, and this should be no different.
“Oh come on,” say critics, “it’s obvious there’s a coverup.”
Others dismiss such claims. “You’re just mad Hillary lost.” Me? I simply don’t know. Trump is a liar and a lout, and he appears to be using the presidency to enrich his family, but he looks too stupid for a coverup.
He doesn’t seem adult enough for collusion.
And the administration seems so inept — and so leaky — it’s hard to believe they could keep anything under wraps, especially something as explosive as this.
Trump is clearly unwell, but that could be said about any of us.
He is, of course, unfit for the presidency, but again, he wouldn’t be the first.
Beyond this ugly Russia business, being squarely on one side (or the other) of the entire Trump debate can also pay dividends, whereas being in the muddy middle can be costly.
“We live in an era now where if you don’t take sides, both sides hate you,” said Jay Leno in a recent interview with the New York Times, in a story about the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”
Fallon, who tries to appeal to everyone, has seen his ratings drop in recent months, just as Stephen Colbert, who hosts the “Late Show” and hammers Trump mercilessly, has seen his go up.
People, not the least of them media executives, are watching.