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Committing to the truth, calling out lies

“Why have we used all types of Orwellian newspeak to describe what’s happening when a three-letter word defines it best?”

Our country is in peril. The man sitting in the highest office in the land has a very distant relationship with the truth, and he is not above the wildest exaggerations. He makes bold pronouncements without any evidence to back them up.

In short, he lies.

In the nearly two years since he took office, he has moved slowly past “alternate facts” and dangerously into propaganda territory, and it doesn’t appear that this will change anytime soon. He has his own spin doctors in the form of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and alt-right media outlets that report his statements as fact with no pushback. His attacks on individual journalists and media as a whole have created an atmosphere where people seem almost afraid to call what he’s doing what it is — lying.

And so we stand at the crossroads of truth and propaganda, and if we don’t hitch up our britches and start speaking truth to power, we’ll become one of those countries we so haughtily think we’re better than.

In my very first journalism class, my professor told us that journalists are the watchdogs of society. It’s our job to keep an eye on government and report exactly what’s going on when it happens. Why is it, then, that so many people are afraid to use the word “lie” when reporting on the president’s tweets and speeches? Why have we used all types of Orwellian newspeak to describe what’s happening when a three-letter word defines it best?

As journalists, our job is to inform and to keep the people on top of what’s happening. The news is not always pleasant. It’s not always polite. It’s not always comfortable. But it always needs to be accurate.

If accuracy is one of the primary tenets of journalism, then calling out the propaganda and the lies should be first and foremost on our list. We should not allow ourselves to be bullied by a president and an administration that would rather lie to the American people and misrepresent the damage being done to our citizens, our country, our environment, and those who seek refuge here because the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty told them this would be a safe haven.

We have an obligation to tell it exactly as it is, and we need to take that obligation seriously — otherwise, we’re no better than they are.

Let 2019 be the year journalists recommit to telling the truth, calling out lies, and dispelling propaganda. The future of our country depends on it.

is a columnist for The Root.

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