James: Gotta Trust Somebody

Samuel James made a couple excellent points yesterday about our intake of the newsmedia over at Mere Orthodoxy.

The problem for all of us is simple: You gotta trust somebody. No human being can function as their own all self-sufficient filter… To make suspicion and distrust toward established, respected, and accountable sources of information your default orientation is to either put yourself at the mercy of other sources of information–which are probably just as biased and ideological as the sources you eschew, but biased in a direction you’re more OK with–or, even worse, it’s to make intuition and assumption your primary means of knowledge.

Right enough so far, yeah? Then he goes here, which may be a more squirmy point for a lot of evangelical Republicans:

So what? Let’s assume you’re right that every CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, etc etc, news feature is commissioned, written, edited, and disseminated by progressives who sincerely hope I will inch further to the left after reading their coverage. So what? Do their eschatological hopes for people like me actually determine whether the information they present is valid or not?

Here’s where it gets interesting. If the answer to that last question is, “Yes,” then it seems to me that conservatives have adopted a kind of philosophical identity politics. Liberals make liberal news, because they’re liberals. I don’t know for sure, but I could have sworn conservatives were suspicious of worldviews that reduced individuals to the sum total of their sociological groupings.

Yes, this. While we as evangelicals have been told for decades that we can’t trust anything from “the liberal news media”, we need to exercise better discernment than that.

This past year I’ve ponied up for online subscriptions to both the New York Times and the Washington Post. While they’re clearly never without an angle (and no source is), they’ve provided very good and worthwhile reporting on current events. While not perfect, their expertise in reporting provides a good baseline of facts from which to start to understand world events. I’m planning on maintaining my subscriptions to both.

Read widely, think critically, don’t discount the concept of experts… a good word for today.

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