The issue is confirmation bias, not anonymous sources
spotlight woman 052217 matjaz slanic

The issue is confirmation bias, not anonymous sources

Posted May 22, 2017 09:24 AM by Steve Deace spotlight woman 052217 matjaz slanic
Matjaz Slanic | Getty Images
    • Font Size
    • A
    • A
    • A


I’d like to begin with some hypothetical questions.

Suppose Seth Rich were still alive and not a former staffer for the Democratic National Committee whose tragic murder remains unsolved.

Then suppose he were actively online, sharing his liberal views on the issues and criticizing President Trump and obsessing about his alleged Russian ties — like just about every other Democrat is nowadays.

How many of you who are convinced he was murdered because he supposedly leaked disparaging stuff to WikiLeaks, and “everyone surrounding the Clintons dies,” would care about him? Would you disparage him in your tweets and Facebook posts because of those views? Would he be a “partisan hack”? Would you tell him “you lost, so get over it, millennial snowflake”? Would he be just another “hate America globalist liberal”?

Furthermore, suppose everything about the circumstances surrounding Rich’s murder were still there, but he was a murdered former Republican Party staffer instead. How many of you now behaving as if you care about Rich even more than his own family does would give a damn?

How many of you would be demanding the Democrats now making conspiratorial claims about his murder (which they undoubtedly would), move on and respect a grieving family’s wishes to do so? Would whole shows on Fox News be devoted to “getting to the truth” of his murder? Would whole shows on CNN/MSNBC now be devoted to doing so instead?

How many of those who believe all the anonymous sources leaking President Trump to death can’t be trusted also believe the anonymous sources claiming Rich was murdered for leaking Hillary/Podesta/DNC to death can be trusted?

How many of those who tried to make the president a woman who turned her foundation into a pay-for-play scheme for foreign nationals, and may have exposed our secrets to our enemies via her unsecured private email server, are now breathless in their hysteria that President Trump is a Russian mole to help them infiltrate America?

See, the issue here isn’t anonymous sources. Anonymous sources broke Watergate wide open, exposed the Monica Lewinsky affair, and first told us about the IRS bullying and Associated Press surveillance scandals of the Obama years. Thus, if you think anonymous sources are a corruption unto themselves, please understand our politics would be far more corrupt without them.

Are all anonymous sources correct? Of course not. For example, Jayson Blair, anyone? But when the use of anonymous sources has been abused, it’s not because someone afraid of coming forward for fear of retribution can’t be trusted; it’s because the journalistic vehicle using them is broken and therefore can’t be trusted. That often occurs when we make up or abuse anonymous sources, because they tell us what we want to hear.

This is called confirmation bias. And this is our problem at the moment — not anonymous sources.

As a culture, we have our lost our anchor. Truth is no longer king, so everyone thinks and says what is wise in their own eyes.

The Democrats don’t want to believe they blew an election they never should’ve lost to a bloviating narcissist. Or because they nominated a woman who should probably be in prison. So “the Russians did it!”

Because Vladimir Putin is so effective he literally had spray-on toilets and to rubber-band the beds together in his hotels when he hosted the Sochi Olympics a few years ago. Not to mention the average Russian makes less than the average Romanian. Putin can’t even run his own country, let alone also running ours. Russia is basically North Korea for white people, but with mafias that make the trains run on time.

However, rejection of personal accountability is inherent to progressivism, which exalts victimology instead. Therefore, this is an easy leap for the average leftist, who doesn’t believe in taking responsibility for one’s own failures as it is.

Meanwhile, since conservatism has become clickservatism, and nothing baits more clicks than reminders that too much of the media carry water for Democrats, we retreat behind the "media bias" Maginot Line no matter what the charge or evidence for it. Even when Trump himself stupidly admits on camera, in an interview he requested, that he fired the former FBI director specifically because he was tired of hearing about alleged Russian collusion.

All the while, many claiming to be on the side which supposedly favors personal responsibility and accountability consistently seek to absolve Trump from it. And if you criticize the president as a means of urging him to do better rather than blow this opportunity, you’re “not supporting our duly elected president,” I was just told on Facebook recently (by a person who would never think to say such a thing to me if Trump were a Democrat, I’m guessing).

The masochistic irony of all this partisan idolatry, manifesting itself as confirmation bias, is that it comes at a time when we know these two parties have failed us.

A whopping 67 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party “is out of touch.” That means only 33 percent percent say Democrats are in touch with their needs/views, which isn’t that far off from Trump’s paltry 39 percent approval rating at Real Clear Politics. Congress’ approval rating is even worse, at just 18 percent.

So why do we shame ourselves for those we readily acknowledge at the same time are systemically failing us?

Here’s my theory on that:

We are a culture founded on the laws of nature and nature’s God. We have turned away from that founding. And rather than admitting that each of us are like sheep, and have gone astray, it is easier for us to seek out scapegoats instead of the Lamb of God.

Hence, we’d rather believe the other guy is the reason the country is going to hell in a hand basket, rather than remembering the words G.K. Chesterton once wrote in response to what’s wrong with the world: “I am.”

Steve Deace is broadcast nationally each weeknight on CRTV. He is the author of the book “A Nefarious Plot.”