Words to live by

Jake Tapper gives a professional lesson to fellow journalists… and good advice to all of us:

I choose to make it my job to not automatically believe what the U.S. government says just because the government says it… In fact, it’s the exact opposite of my job to take what the government says at face value and say this is the truth because the government says it, and the government never lies.

This is particularly important with regard to government pronouncements these days, as they have demonstrated unfitness for the benefit of the doubt. In a larger sense, however, this skepticism is appropriate in general — merely substitute “company,” “Republicans/Democrats,” or “organization” for “U.S. government” in the statement above, and the wisdom is just as appropos.

We forget to our peril that human nature is fallen, and because of that very few institutions remain bastions of integrity over time. Yet all of us have sources of information that we tend to subject to less scrutiny due to overconfidence in its fidelity. The quote above was given in the context of discussing Edward Snowden. So perhaps the final part of The Atlantic’s article says it best:

“…some of us are inclined towards whistleblowers and others to support the official line. The skeptical approach that Tapper counsels would be good for us all.”

Indeed.  As the old saying goes, “the truth is out there,” but one has to pursue it to truly find it.  That usually means listening to more than one voice, and that the chorus isn’t just singing your personal tune.


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