• Wayne Perkins

One side of the Story

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice, to deceive.

These well known and oft-used words seem very applicable given the nature of today’s global political climate which seems even more tense and unpredictable than usual.

I have just recently returned from a three-week visit to America and while there, I, purposefully and deliberately took every available opportunity to listen to, question and engage in meaningful conversations with the American people about their political leanings and of course their President.

I did this for two reasons.

1. I find political discussion and debate invigorating, enjoyable and a great way to have your own often entrenched views either questioned or strengthened, both of which are inherently valuable.

2. I had been increasingly wondering if we were actually getting the real story about American politics from many of our media sources here in New Zealand as it looked like a pre-conceived bias that had little to do with facts and much to do with opinions was now masquerading as “News”.

I, like you I’m sure, whether here at home or abroad, want leaders who are not hypocrites, liars or embellishers of truth but what I believe is even more important and absolutely crucial to “we the people” is that our news sources are not hypocrites, liars and embellishers of truth.

It was with an acute awareness of my own bias towards the slight right of centre politically, an even greater awareness of my natural tendency towards the side of the rebel, the marginalised and the underdog, a distrust of ideology and anything that smacked of authoritarianism that I approached the enigmatic question that is “Trump”.

I read as much as I could from different publications while in the US, I listened attentively whenever people spoke, I surfed the many different television channels from both side of the political spectrum and at every conceivable opportunity I asked the real Americans “What do you think of Donald?"

I had to temper some of the feedback with the knowledge that I was not in Trump supporters territory and it was a little like going to Gore (Bill Engish territory) and asking what people thought of Jacinda.

I finished my research in Washington outside the White House by asking the protestors from all political leanings their thoughts and opinions and taking the time to try and understand their views.

I have come to the following conclusions.

1. If you don’t like Trump then nothing will convince you that he has done anything good at all (despite some pretty conclusive evidence to the contrary) and you will not accept or believe that he is anything other than a despotic dictator.

2. If you do like Trump then nothing will convince you that he has not been great for America and its people (once again despite some pretty clear evidence to the contrary) and you will dismiss most of what is said about him as “Fake News”

3. The News sources in New Zealand show what’s very nearly an exclusively “Anti-Trump” perspective and message with very little evidence that I can see of anything remotely objective. The bias is so evident and the rhetoric so skewed that it should be embarrassing to all fact-based, reasonable thinking people. I would suggest that if you currently rely on the News media for forming your opinions than you are possibly very poorly informed.

4. Both political groups in America, like the many political groups in New Zealand, are made up of good decent hard-working people just trying to navigate life as best they can.

To tar one group as “despicable” because they don’t think the way you think they should is stupid enough when it’s in your own country but at least you have some degree of knowledge and hopefully at least a semi-informed opinion.

But to make that claim on a group in another country is not just stupid but arrogant in the extreme and does no favors to our so-called claims of intelligence.

Now I don’t warm to President Trump. I don’t like his reactive manner, his lack of humility, his reluctance to say “I think I got that wrong”, his arrogance and what seems like an inability to speak the truth clearly, unbiasedly and unemotionally.

Believe me, I am not a fan but it is up to history and his people to judge him, not me.

The jury is still out on Donald Trump in my considered opinion and I will wait for its verdict. It seems obvious that he has done some very good things for his country and most reasonable Americans accept that. He has also done some very foolish things.

But it is one thing to point out Trump's negative traits that I mentioned above and feel a bit holier than thou.

It quite another to look at our New Zealand media and recognise those same negative traits.

If our media wish to sit in judgment and support a certain worldview then, by all means, do so, the news is after all just another business, but don’t pretend to be objectively neutral while uttering hypocritical nonsense and passing off opinions as facts.

Like any parent of children knows, one side of the story, regardless of its depth, complexity or sincerity, is still just one side of the story.

Give us both sides and credit us with the intelligence to form our own opinions.

Surely, we deserve that!

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