The Journal Gazette
Saturday, April 03, 2021 1:00 am

Holt: Truth has no counterargument

It's raining, and a journalist goes outside. She gets wet.

She tells you that water is, in fact, falling from the sky. The man screaming breathlessly nearby that the drops are figments of our collective imaginations is ignored.

Lester Holt approves.

The NBC Nightly News anchor this week accepted the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism at Washington State University.

As Dominick Mastrangelo of The Hill put it, Holt “argued ... that news organizations and the journalists they employ should do everything they can to call out misinformation permeating the political media ecosystem and separate facts from falsehoods forcefully to combat that trend.”

“The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in,” said Holt, referencing a hyperpartisan political climate in which misinformation and conspiracy theories can overtake facts surrounding news about COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. “That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”

Holt, the host of “NBC Nightly News” since 2015, appropriately pushed back against giving unsupported arguments equal time.

“Providing an open platform for misinformation for anyone to come and say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous,” he said. “Our duty is to be fair to the truth ... we need to hear our leaders' views, their policies and reasoning. It's really important. But we have to stand ready to push back and call out falsehoods.”

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