Unbiased vs. The Truth

Being a Mormon, as I am, there has been a lot of discussion lately among my family and friends about the PBS special entitled The Mormons. Personally, I did not like the overall tone of the piece, but you can click here to see the Mormon Church’s official response. Some say it did good at showing both sides, but unfortunately, one side was frequently an attack by Mormon detractors and the other side was Mormons on the defensive.

This documentary was touted as “balanced” and praised for its “unbiased” approach. While that may be true, this approach made no effort to uncover the truth and, in fact, it led the documentary to propagate many lies. For example, in its discussion of the Mountain Meadows massacre, the Mormon Church’s side was presented by stating that there is no evidence that Brigham Young had anything to do with that event. Then the documentary presents the other side with a detractor of the church saying that he thinks Brigham Young ordered the massacre. The truth was told, the fact that there is no evidence that Brigham Young was involved in the event, so giving the baseless opinion concerning Brigham Young’s involvement does nothing more than muddy the water and further propagate a lie.

To provide so-called journalistic integrity, news media personnel frequently think they are on the high road by not taking sides and presenting an unbiased or balance view. (Take CNN journalist Bernard Shaw’s refusal to be debriefed as a prime example. After returning from Iraq, he refused to be debriefed by the US military because he didn’t want to take sides in 1991 Gulf War conflict.) The truth has no side, though. But, if you really want to consider the truth as a side, then the other side must be a lie. So you see how this kind of journalistic integrity should never be confused with the truth.

Sometimes, I fear, we stop short of arriving at the truth and become satisfied with that “unbiased” presentation of both sides. Obviously, the reason some news media present that balanced approach is so that consumers of their medium can arrive at their own conclusion of the truth. But when they intentionally counter the truth with lies, this destroys any pretense of objectivity. When they knowingly present a lie just to balance the truth, this kind of “objectivity” actually reveals their intention to hide the truth. And that kind of unbiased objectivity should never be confused with the actual truth.

2 replies
  1. Amy D.
    Amy D. says:

    We just had a discussion today about opinions being touted as facts. It was interesting to see Trevor (age 12) and Mae (age 11) process that. The light came on as they realized what misrepresentations can be spread. It is good to be aware and even wary about sources of truth. Good commentary on this documentary (that I am having a hard time getting through, actually, because of the tone/music/edge of it all…).


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