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Democracy dies in the dark; truth and facts matter – Courier-Gazette & Camden Herald

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Reade Brower is the owner of these newspapers.
On Sunday, April 28, 2019, the weather in Detroit was partly sunny with a high of 53 degrees. That was the morning Damon Keith died at age 96.
Keith fought in World War II, earning his master’s degree in 1956. Eleven years later he was tapped for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Michigan by President Lyndon Johnson.
It was after the 9/11 attack in 2001 that the Justice Department started deporting Arab and Muslim immigrants, in secret, when the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press joined the ACLU to challenge them, saying it violated the First Amendment to deny public access to the hearings.
In his ruling, Judge Keith defended the public’s right to know, writing in his decision: “Democracy dies in the dark” — a phrase later adapted into The Washington Post’s slogan, introduced in 2017, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.
Two brothers, two sisters, two teammates — a road not taken 
Have you ever wondered how two brothers, two sisters, two classmates, two teammates, could become so diametrically opposed to each other in what is now our current political climate, a climate best described as venomous? It isn’t that one person is good, and one person is bad. It isn’t that one person is kind and the other mean.  It isn’t that one is smart, the other dumb.
The difference is one believes in “Facts” and the other believes there can be “Alternative Facts.”
That is why I am reaching out. I want to tell you facts matter. Facts are the lifeblood to informed decision making.
Yes, the truth matters
But does it?
The above narrative is the lead-in to a subscription promo under consideration. It speaks to the challenge that todays’ norm is the truth doesn’t matter if the facts don’t play to your narrative.
The last presidential election was not rigged or stolen. Yet, a recent poll from August revealed two-thirds of Republicans don’t accept the facts.
Not after 70-plus failed lawsuits and three times the Supreme Court found no credible evidence of widespread fraud, a majority of Republicans still believe pillow man Mike Lindell. Trump, relentless in his claim to his loyalists, continues to perpetuate fiction because facts do not fit his objectives.
When conspiracy theories clash with reality, mistrust, purposely sewn over the years, trumps the facts. Trump telling us mainstream media is “fake” over and over erodes trust — yet nobody seems concerned his agenda is illusion for the sake of deception and deflection.
Last week, after five months and $5.7 million spent to look at two million ballots cast in Arizona, Trump claimed “The Fake News is lying about the Arizona audit report!” adding, “The leaked report conclusively shows there were enough fraudulent votes, mystery votes, and fake votes to change the outcome of the election four or five times over.”
That wasn’t true. The report conclusively confirmed Biden won Arizona and there was no widespread fraud, bamboo in the ballots, or faulty machines. The audit even found a few more votes for Biden, widening his spread of victory. This report came from “Cyber Ninjas” where their CEO, Doug Logan, spread conspiracy theories before the audit began.
Like the Mueller Report, it did leave some process related questions dangling, enough for Trump supporters to say “See, I told you so,” but the fact is — no widespread fraud in Arizona (or anywhere else — Biden beat Trump by five million votes).
Conspiracy theories are dangerous, setting tones that create a strategy of divide and conquer. If we don’t use facts as our backbone, we have nothing but divisiveness.
It was conspiracy nonsense of a stolen election that led to the Jan. 6 attack on our Capitol in an attempt to stop legal certification. These conspiracy theories propelled states to restrict voting rules in an effort to make it harder for people to vote in the future, helping those candidates pushing for the changes.
The hope is the Arizona audit will move the needle, leaving behind the false narrative of rigged and stolen — we will see what the next false narrative brings and if it again takes us away from fixing immigration, saving our planet, and allowing science to dictate COVID response.
Journalism — 86,400 seconds a day!
The mainstream media is far from perfect but we remain accountable to readers and communities we serve.
***
“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” — William Kingdon Clifford, philosopher and mathematician (1845-1879)
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