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The Post-Fact Society

Timothy Egan’s recent piece  in The New York Times asserts that “forty-six percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim,” while “twenty-seven percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen.” And those who think the president is Muslim, according to a recent Pew survey, think that they got this information from the media.

What media? Egan singles out right-wing radio demagogue Rush Limbaugh as one who effectively and underhandedly raises doubts whenever it suits him, eliding the facts, and Fox News, whose parent company recently gave $1 million to the Republican Party - hardly a separation of journalism and politics. And he also blames the more reputable media for not forcefully responding to these innuendos.

Egan’s concerns resonate with the hundreds of posts in photography circles criticizing various kinds of photographic manipulations, whether via Photoshop or by staging events for the camera. But in a society where consumerism and the myth of choice is dominant, why should there be facts to get in the way of our opinions? Aren’t we entitled to a world made in our own image, whether by changing someone’s religion to justify our anxieties and enmities, or by changing what we saw in the camera? The consumer, we have been repeatedly told, is king.

What kind of world are we now in the process of creating? Which kingdom are we to inherit? It’s certainly not just a question for the Republicans, but for all of us who need to live together in this society.


“A full 14 percent of Republicans said that it was “definitely true” that Obama sympathized with the fundamentalists and wanted to impose Islamic law across the globe. An additional 38 percent said that it was probably true — bringing the total percentage of believers to 52 percent.”

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