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Milt Hankins: 'Real' news consists of facts, not rumors

Jan. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

As a general rule, one could say those who know the facts speak the truth; those who do not know the facts extrapolate, extemporize, estimate and well, shall I say, guess? If it doesn't sound credible, it probably isn't. A host of columnists, talking heads, and editorialists speak off the top of their heads and are later found to be wrong. Do they admit or retract their mistakes? Rarely!

This means we must carefully weigh the words we hear coming from the "news" media. Fairly recently FOX News referred to Fred Phelps, the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, as a "left-wing Democrat." Coming from a principal, quasi-legitimate "news" organization, I have spent considerable time attempting to substantiate that claim.

Fred Phelps did, indeed, contribute to the Democratic Party at one point in his life, and he did support Al Gore when Gore ran for president. His support of Gore was apparently based entirely on Gore's statement at one point in his career that he "(didn't) pretend to have an understanding of homosexuality that sustains a discussion of its roots ... but (did) not believe it (was) an acceptable alternative that society should affirm."

Every other article I came across concerning Westboro Baptist Church (which incidentally is not aligned with any "traditional" Baptist organization) or Fred Phelps referred to the church (and Phelps) as "right-wing." I found this significant. As a matter of fact, I was unable to find any other reference to Phelps or Westboro Baptist Church as being "left-wing." Why, then, did FOX News make a point of referring to the organization as such? Is this the kind of "fair and balanced" news FOX purportedly telecasts?

Sometimes, without careful research, it is virtually impossible to discern whether what one hears is accurate and true.

Interestingly, sometimes a person's position on the left-wing to right-wing continuum depends on that person's personal connection to whichever side he or she espouses on any given issue. Why, for example, is former Vice President Dick Cheney, an avowed, hard right-winger, sympathetic to the same-sex marriage issue? I would say, obviously, because his daughter is a well-known lesbian and gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender activist.

Clearly, my point is that it is important that we weigh "hard" news by who is speaking about whom and that we know something about the underlying issues or facts supporting the report.

Statistics from many reliable government sources clearly show that, since the days of President Reagan, Republicans have been the "big-time" spenders -- that, in fact, much of the exorbitant national debt is the result of interest on debt from previous free-spending Republican administrations. This is fact! In spite of this fact, the general public has been lead to believe that President Obama is the "all-time, big-time" spender and that he is bankrupting the country, that he is in fact leading the country toward a socialist and/or fascist state.

It is always wise to seek the truth, and nothing can substantiate the truth more clearly than cold, hard facts. The aforementioned examples prove the point!

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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