Page 4A OPINION East Oregonian Thursday, March 2, 2017 Founded October 16, 1875 KATHRYN B. BROWN Publisher DANIEL WATTENBURGER Managing Editor TIM TRAINOR Opinion Page Editor MARISSA WILLIAMS Regional Advertising Director MARCY ROSENBERG Circulation Manager JANNA HEIMGARTNER Business Office Manager MIKE JENSEN Production Manager OUR VIEW Media — and its consumers — must improve American media has never been or read an article online and come away from it incensed, furious and more in the crosshairs than today. apoplectic, it is important to step Like Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and Vladimir Putin in back and ask yourself if you are Russia, U.S. President Donald being manipulated — and to what Trump has made hay while end. hammering on a press that Trump That doesn’t mean the describes as “fake” and the “enemy best journalism doesn’t cause of the people.” intense reactions. We cover fatal And he has found a receptive accidents and fires and suicides audience. Trust in the media is at an and bankruptcies that can incense all-time low. readers. But those powerful stories It is worth defining “media,” are buffeted by the daily grind of many others that move the narrative as the vague and often pejorative forward, give the reader context, term means lots of things to include relevant facts and help different people. Disappointingly, round out the entire story. It’s not to a growing number it means cable always life-changing television news. more often In January, about It may be good stuff, it’s the day-to-day 2.8 million people of the watched Fox News TV, but it’s not machinations world we live in and each night during always good the government we primetime, 1.2 pay for. million watched CNN journalism. Perhaps you and MSNBC had 1.1 are willing to trust million viewers. You your government and its president can bet that can’t-take-your-eyes- implicitly, to take one person’s word off-him Donald Trump was one reason for that increase, and likely a for what is fake and what is true. We believe that’s dangerous and that reason why those numbers will stay good journalism is more important sky high. when it’s under attack. At the same time, about 38 Our education system does too. In percent of Americans (120 million) schools across the country, facts are claimed to read a newspaper on a paramount. Right answers get you regular basis according to a 2013 credit and wrong answers get you Pew Research study, down from 54 bupkis. Learning how to research, percent in 2004. how to think critically and how to We are a newspaper, so we come reach the correct conclusion has long from that journalistic perspective. been the basis of learning. We go to meetings, go to schools, That’s why teachers are go to businesses, tag along, talk to instructing students on how to be people, ask blunt and sometimes good consumers of news — to annoying questions, read budgets, find secondary sources, look for go to wrecks, go to fires, write bylines and contact information, down what we see, write down research a publication’s history and what authorities tell us, ask more range of output and how to tell the questions, then report. difference between spin and fact. We hope to do it with a mix of They are important reminders for all entertainment, humor and local Americans now more than ever, as flavor — but information is always information designed to mislead is at the core. being pushed out in high number. Cable news does television You should be suspicious of what remarkably well. But the you read, as journalists are trained line between journalism and to be whether looking at a press entertainment is often blurred there. Many news shows consist of pundits release, a government document or propping up, then attacking what are a note from an anonymous source. But you should be more trusting of often straw man arguments from an outlets and journalists who show opposition figure. Talking heads are invited to voice their work, who have a long history of revealing truths, who admit a side of the issue, not to help the readily to errors, who don’t play audience understand the issue. It’s with your emotions and favor cold, great television — especially if you hard (sometimes boring) fact. Some have a dog in the fight — but often do that better than others, though it’s not journalism. It’s borderline none are perfect all the time. But debate, it’s definitely entertainment, you should be a wise consumer, not and it’s designed to keep you reading outlets based on whether hooked. Like Doritos, it offers you agree with their conclusions but enough flavor to keep you coming back but not enough sustenance that those who make you smarter and you can put down your bag of chips. more informed. The media is going through the One other way you can become wringer right now, but it will outlive “hooked” on empty calories is by this era and — with your help — be emotional manipulation. If you better than before. watch a segment on cable news OTHER VIEWS Today’s age of reason B eing around a college classroom What’s interesting, Hill noted, is that can really expand your the anti-Enlightenment traditions are perspective. For example, somehow back. Nietzschean thinking last week we were finishing off a is back in the form of Vladimir Putin. seminar in grand strategy when one Marxian thinking is back in the form of of my Yale colleagues, Charles Hill, an aggressive China. Both Russia and drew a diagram on the board that put China are trying to harvest the benefits today’s events in a sweeping historical of the Enlightenment order, but they perspective. also want to break the rules when they David Running through the center Brooks feel like it. They incorporate deep of the diagram was the long line strains of anti-Enlightenment thinking Comment of Enlightenment thought. The and undermine the post-Enlightenment Enlightenment included thinkers like world order. John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued Hill didn’t say it, but I’d add that anti- that people should stop deferring blindly to Enlightenment thinking is also back in the authority for how to live. Instead, they should form of Donald Trump, racial separatists and think things through from the ground up, the world’s other populist ethnic nationalist respect facts and skeptically re-examine their movements. own assumptions and convictions. Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements Enlightenment thinkers turned their don’t think truth is to be found through skeptical ideas into skeptical institutions, skeptical inquiry and debate. They think notably the U.S. wisdom and virtue are Constitution. America’s found in the instincts of founders didn’t trust the the plain people, deep in people or themselves, the mystical core of the so they built a system of nation’s or race’s group rules, providing checks consciousness. and balances to pit interest Today’s anti- against interest. Enlightenment movements De Tocqueville came believe less in calm along and said that if a persuasion and evidence- rules-based democratic based inquiry than in government was going purity of will. They try to to work anywhere it was going to be the win debates through blunt force and silencing United States. America became the test case unacceptable speech. for the entire Enlightenment project. With his They don’t see history as a gradual march distrust of mob rule and his reverence for law, toward cooperation. They see history as Abraham Lincoln was a classic Enlightenment cataclysmic cycles — a zero-sum endeavor man. His success in the Civil War seemed to marked by conflict. Nations trying to screw vindicate faith in democracy and the entire other nations, races inherently trying to Enlightenment cause. oppress other races. In the 20th century, Enlightenment leaders These movements are hostile to rules-based extended the project globally, building systems, multilateral organizations, the messy rules-based multilateral institutions like compromises of democratic politics and what the European Union and NATO to restrain Steve Bannon calls the “administrative state.” threatening powers and preserve a balance of They prefer the direct rule by one strongman power. who is the embodiment of the will of the The Enlightenment project gave us people. the modern world, but it has always had When Trump calls the media the “enemy weaknesses. First, Enlightenment figures of the people” he is going after the system perpetually tell themselves that religion is of conversation, debate and inquiry that is dead (it isn’t) and that race is dead (it isn’t), the foundation for the entire Enlightenment and so they are always surprised by events. project. Second, it is thin on meaning. It treats people When anti-Enlightenment movements as bland rational egoists and tends to produce arose in the past, Enlightenment heroes rose governments run by soulless technocrats. to combat them. Lincoln was no soulless Third, Enlightenment governance fails from technocrat. He fought fanaticism by doubling time to time. down on Enlightenment methods, with charity, At these moments anti-Enlightenment reason and patience. He worked tirelessly movements gain power. Amid the collapse for unity over division. He was a hopeful of the old regimes during World War I, pessimist who knew the struggle would the Marxists attacked the notion of private be long but he had faith in providence and property. That brought us Lenin, Stalin and ultimate justice. Mao. After the failures of Versailles, the We live in a time when many people have Nietzscheans attacked the separation of lost faith in the Enlightenment habits and powers and argued that power should be institutions. I wonder if there is a group of centralized in the hands of society’s winners, leaders who will rise up and unabashedly the master race. This brought us Hitler and the defend this project, or even realize that it Nazis. is this fundamental thing that is now under Hill pointed out that the forces of the attack. Enlightenment have always defeated the ■ anti-Enlightenment threats. When the Cold David Brooks became a New York Times War ended, the Enlightenment project seemed Op-Ed columnist in September 2003. He utterly triumphant. has been a senior editor at The Weekly But now we’re living in the wake of Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek another set of failures: the financial crisis, the and the Atlantic Monthly, and is currently a slow collapse of the European project, Iraq. commentator on PBS. The Enlightenment gave us the modern world, but it always had weaknesses. Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board of publisher Kathryn Brown, managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, and opinion page editor Tim Trainor. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of the East Oregonian. YOUR VIEWS Walden has not met with local group of concerned citizens A group of concerned Democrats and Republicans from Pine Valley tried unsuccessfully to arrange a meeting last week with Representative Walden’s office in La Grande, to discuss the Congressman’s legislative agenda for this year. Our repeated attempts to connect with his staff there failed. We are now writing to express our serious concern regarding this failure to allow citizen input to our representative in Congress. We called and left messages at the La Grande field office on Feb. 17, 21, 23 and 24. We also spoke with someone in Rep. Walden’s Washington, D.C., office on Feb. 21 and 23, both times being assured that they would communicate our interest in meeting with his staff. Still, we have heard nothing from the La Grande office. Additionally, Rep. Walden’s website showed no town hall meetings scheduled in Eastern Oregon last week. However, we did learn during the call to his Washington, D.C., office on the 21st of a town hall meeting in Ontario, only an hour before it was to begin. We were unable to attend on such short notice. We’ve read in local newspapers that the congressman met with a few individuals and a Rotary group in our area this past week. In conclusion, it appears that Representative Walden and/or his staff may not want to hear from a broader range of his constituency. This is very disappointing and reflects poorly on our representative’s commitment to democracy. For a stronger democracy, for our country to heal, to build a better more compassionate world, we all need to be heard. We all need to listen. Patrick Barrett, Patti Walker, Mike Higgins, Donna Higgins, Judith Fisher, Tom Nash, Maureen McMahon, Spring Bartlett, June McKenzie, MaryJo St. Clair, Coco Forte, Wix Covey, Alice Covey Pine Valley LETTERS POLICY The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper re- serves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual services and products or letters that infringe on the rights of private citizens. Submitted letters must be signed by the author and include the city of residence and phone number. Send letters to 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.