Journalism, Politics

The Truth Is Out There (But Not In TIME)

Perhaps the best explanation of the ideological shift of “objective” journalism is made in “The Truth Is Out There In 2016. Way Out There” from the Oct. 17, 2016 issue of TIME.

In post-birtherism America, our “truthiness” is weaker than our gluten tolerance.

In the article, Stephen Colbert himself says the reality of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is “completely divorced” from the one you and I reside in.

It seems truthiness doesn’t have enough wiggle room to allow for thousands of applauding Muslims.

The story, told mainly through experiences at Trump rallies in Eastern North Carolina, traces the Donald’s oratic adventures in “truthful hyperbole,” a handful of which I heard while covering rallies in Greenville, Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The article’s gradual assertion that the American electorate thinks with its gut and accepts only the truths that mess with their own worldview is interesting as the story itself contains a flagrant bit of “truthiness” from the 19th century.

“I never once in history have seen white people riot,” says Adam Watkins, a white Trump supporter chatting in nearby Wilmington, N.C., the day of the rally. As it happens, Wilmington was the site of one of the nation’s most famous race riots, when hundreds of whites overthrew the elected government in 1898, killed more than a dozen black residents and burned down the offices of the only local black newspaper. There is a monument in the center of town commemorating the event. “In the 1960s they had a lot of riots involving black people,” Watkins continues. “No whites.”

Death toll estimates from the Wilmington massacre, which was not a “race riot” but the only successful military coup’detat in U.S. history, range from 14 to 100, with many suggesting at least 60 blacks were slaughtered.

The insurrection in Wilmington displaced another 2,100 black citizens, many of whom hid out in nearby swamps to escape the armed mobs of white vigilantes, who eventually burned down the black-owned newspaper in town which had sparked their outrage with an editorial defending interracial relationships.


White rioters pose after burning down the Wilmington Daily Record in November 1898.

While TIME’s Charlotte Alter and Michael Scherer are on the ground in North Carolina, I hope they find time to attend a viewing of Wilmington On Fire, which will show Friday, Oct. 15 in Fayetteville. The film chronicles and explains the origins of racism in Reconstruction Eastern North Carolina which all began with a letter to the editor.

If 13th finally began in earnest the conversation about race and the justice system, then Wilmington On Fire is the late 1800s spin-off that focused on a cosmopolitan, multi-racial community in the south consumed by the inferiority complexes of white politicians from the Cape Fear to the capital.

You owe it to yourself to get informed before the Nov. 8 election. Why not watch a movie?



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