According to FactCheck.org, both presidential candidates were playing dodgeball with the truth Wednesday during the final debate.
FactCheck found a number of statements that were outright false. Other statements had elements of truth, but were misleading. And others were slightly inaccurate.
All combined, there was enough misinformation coming from the debate stage to build Trump Tower, with or without Chinese steel. Fortunately, we live in a country with a free press where we are allowed to check information and point out inaccuracies. It's a great freedom.
But I can't help but wonder how secure this freedom would be under Donald Trump, should he be elected president. Trump continually calls the media corrupt, a label I don't applaud, and he has gone so far as to ban certain news outlets from attending his events because he doesn't agree with the coverage.
For his latest trick, Trump suggested "Saturday Night Live" should be canceled because it poked fun at him during a recent skit.
I find all this greatly concerning because the rights to free speech and a free press are guaranteed in our First Amendment. Folks seem to get ruffled any time the Second Amendment is mentioned, but Trump can threaten our free press and it receives an overwhelming shrug. When looking at other countries, this is the wrong attitude.
It was in the early 2000s when Russian President Vladimir Putin took an aggressive stance against TV stations not operated by his government. Bad things happened, the worst of which were the deaths of two journalists.
In the country of Azerbaijan just north of Iran, journalist Khadija Ismayilova spent much of the last two years in jail for being critical of her country's president. In addition to jail, she said some reporters are beaten, then forced to write about their experience, as a warning to citizens.
The press then becomes “a tool for intimidation of the population,” she said.
Whether you like the media or not -- and some people don't -- we play a crucial role in society. Go to any city meeting in McMinnville and there are a handful of people in attendance, along with the media. Go to any state meeting in Nashville and there are a handful of people in attendance, along with the media. Even go to a session of Congress and there are a handful of people in attendance, along with the media.
Unless we want government-run news agencies reporting their own actions to the general public and controlling exactly what's released, members of the media are vital to keep the general population informed. Our message might not always be happy, but it should be an accurate representation of what's taking place.
If our politicians are as loose with the truth as FactCheck claims they are, do we really want them in charge of telling us what they're doing? We should all be highly suspicious of any politician who suggests limiting the power of a free press.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.