One of the most frustrating issues is when people cannot agree on a common set of facts. A common set of facts is the starting point for a discussion of an issue. If people do not have a common set of facts, they cannot discuss current events.
Recently Elon Musk changed the rules on Twitter about sharing real-time location data about a person. He did this after he related that a man wearing a mask had followed one of his cars carrying his son X from an airport. The stalker then blocked the car and jumped on the hood. In his tweets about this attack, Elon also said that he would sue the creator of the software tracking his plane. After relating this attack, Elon Musk said that Twitter would not allow the sharing of real-time location data of a person (doxing).
The vast majority of the stories on Elon Musk banning the account of the plane tracking app or the subsequent banning of “journalists” who tweeted links to other places to find the real-time tracking information leave out a crucial part of the story. They omit why Elon Musk took this step, which was the masked stalker of the car carrying his kid. The person has since come forward with unhinged statements about how Elon is constantly tracking him.
There is no excuse for this omission by journalists. They leave out key information to change readers’ perceptions of the following events. This cherry-picking of facts could be expected of a partisan lawyer. At a grand jury, the jury only hears the facts presented by the prosecutor, and the prosecutor may leave out certain facts to present other facts in a different light. Hence, as the saying goes, a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.
The other issue with leaving out key facts is that it is nearly impossible for people to discuss the issue if they cannot agree on the key facts that led to an event. An agreement on facts leading to an event is table stakes to discussing that event. When someone reads multiple articles on the event, they are under the impression they have all the facts. But if all of those articles left out just one critical point, then the reader will be unable to have a productive discussion about that event with someone who has read that widely-omitted fact.
Journalistic malpractice by omitting key facts makes it nearly impossible to discuss issues with others. Journalists have no excuse not to report what the subject of their story said was the reason for their actions or other key facts of a story. By not fairly reporting on issues, they are creating a fissure in our society.
Rocco Maglio is a software engineer, cybersecurity expert, and co-founder/publisher of The Hernando Sun.