Post-truth is a symptom not the disease



Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.

On December 20, in a piece both depressingly necessary and emblematic of the year, Britain’s Channel 4 news released a fact-check. It assessed claims by a writer for the Russian state media channel Russia Today.

As terrible reports of injured and dead civilians, many of them children, poured out of besieged and bombarded Aleppo, this writer suggested in a speech to the United Nations that western journalists were “compromised” and that the same bleeding children were being recycled in different reports.

Channel 4 ran through factors explaining why it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that the pictures in dispute were in fact credible, adding: “… the simpler explanation is the more likely one: children really are being orphaned in Syria, or left wounded and distressed …”

This is the bit that highlights the trouble we’re in: that the truth of journalists not being able to verify all information coming out of Syria leads some to believe that everything reported by otherwise credible news outlets must therefore be fake – including attacks on children.

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