The truth doesn’t seem to mat­ter any­more

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - By Randy Moll

Sad to say, truth doesn’t seem to mat­ter that much any­more, even in re­port­ing the news. Truth has be­come out­weighed by po­lit­i­cal agen­das and, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the facts of a story, many re­porters and news or­ga­ni­za­tions have fallen prey to pro­pa­ganda ma­chines which are fo­cused far more on achiev­ing a po­lit­i­cal agenda than in simply telling read­ers the facts of a story or event.

While some may dis­agree with my com­par­i­son, I pub­lished an ar­ti­cle many years ago while still work­ing as a law-en­force­ment of­fi­cer in­ves­ti­gat­ing crimes. I wrote and still be­lieve it is not the law-en­force­ment of­fi­cer’s job to ob­tain con­vic­tions. Rather, it is the law-en­force­ment of­fi­cer’s job to in­ves­ti­gate and fully re­port the facts — whether those facts sup­port a con­vic­tion or an ac­quit­tal. As a law-en­force­ment of­fi­cer, the most griev­ous of­fense I could com­mit in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was to pur­sue only ev­i­dence which I be­lieved would sup­port a con­vic­tion and to omit or, worse yet, with­hold ev­i­dence which might be used to gain a de­fen­dant an ac­quit­tal.

The same holds true in news re­port­ing. It’s easy to pick and choose which as­pects of a story are re­ported and slant the news by not telling the whole story or failing to tell all the facts. And it’s easy to be so blinded by po­lit­i­cal agen­das and views that one’s re­port­ing of the facts be­comes skewed and dis­hon­est. And it grieves me when I see a good num­ber of ma­jor news out­lets doing just that.

I could give ex­am­ple af­ter ex­am­ple, but the re­cent Valen­tine’s Day school shoot­ing in Florida is one of the best cur­rent ex­am­ples. When I turn on the tele­vi­sion or the com­puter, I hear again and again the blame for such mass shoot­ings be­ing cast upon law-abid­ing gun own­ers and upon the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion. Yet, the facts in this case and so many oth­ers in­di­cate that, if any­one but the shooter is to be blamed, it comes down to a fail­ure of gov­ern­ment agen­cies to en­force cur­rent laws and to en­ter felony and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence con­vic­tions into the data­base used for back­ground checks to de­ter­mine who is el­i­gi­ble and pro­hib­ited from pur­chas­ing and pos­sess­ing a firearm.

The NRA didn’t do any­thing to fa­cil­i­tate this shoot­ing — in fact, it has freely of­fered to schools for some time train­ing to pre­vent such hor­rific crimes. The fail­ure to en­force cur­rent law on the part of lo­cal and fed­eral agen­cies did con­trib­ute to the Florida mas­sacre. In the Novem­ber 2017 Texas church shoot­ing, a for­mer NRA in­struc­tor risked his life to stop the shoot­ing us­ing the same type weapon as the shooter. An­other branch of fed­eral gov­ern­ment failed to en­ter do­mes­tic bat­tery con­vic­tion information into the fed­eral data­base and pre­vent the shooter from pur­chas­ing his firearm. So who is to blame?

While speak­ing about the NRA, it should be noted, con­trary to the im­age por­trayed by many ma­jor news out­lets, that the or­ga­ni­za­tion is not the lobby group of gun man­u­fac­tur­ers and gun deal­ers. It is an or­ga­ni­za­tion made up of mil­lions of lawabid­ing U.S. cit­i­zens, many of whom own firearms but also many who do not. It was the NRA which pushed for a na­tional data­base and in­stant back­ground checks rather than a short wait­ing pe­riod with no manda­tory checks. It is and has been the NRA which has headed up firearms safety and provided ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams for par­ents and schools to use to pre­vent firearm ac­ci­dents. I know be­cause I used some of these pro­grams while in law-en­force­ment. And it is the NRA which is push­ing for the en­force­ment of cur­rent gun laws.

And as one who fre­quently ar­gues in sup­port of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bill of Rights, I ap­pre­ci­ate the role the NRA has played in de­fend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bill of Rights — and it’s not just the Sec­ond Amend­ment; it’s all our rights, in­clud­ing free­dom of re­li­gion, speech

and of the press, to be se­cure in our per­sons, houses, pa­pers and ef­fects, and for due process of law be­fore any per­son may be de­prived of life, lib­erty or prop­erty. Un­for­tu­nately, I don’t see very many gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials or news out­lets de­fend­ing the God-given free­doms guar­an­teed to us in the Bill of Rights. In­stead, I see many at work to take them away.

One re­cent ex­am­ple is the ef­fort of a num­ber of large me­dia out­lets to cen­sor In­ter­net searches and pre­vent the pub­lic from ac­cess­ing cer­tain information. We all knew so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies re­moved or rel­e­gated to the dark abyss posts and information they deemed not in con­form­ity with cer­tain so­cial views, but now we see ma­jor search en­gines block­ing searches for cer­tain items or information.

What I won­der — and I don’t have to won­der too long to know the an­swer — is what will come next. If groups like the NRA and all law-abid­ing gun own­ers are vil­i­fied for crimes they did not com­mit, if the news me­dia se­lec­tively re­ports the news and leaves out those facts and news sto­ries which do not match a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal view and agenda, and if those who mar­ket cer­tain prod­ucts and those who pro­mote cer­tain re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal views are cen­sored, it’s not only the Sec­ond Amend­ment which will be over­turned, the entire Bill of Rights will be stripped away.

Randy Moll is the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of the West­side Ea­gle Ob­server. He may be con­tacted by email at Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the author.

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