是的，真相依然重要 | 观点
（本文发表于纽约时报观点与评论版面，作者是David M. Shribman。）
Of all the questions that the ascendancy of Donald Trump has raised — on the value of political experience in governing, on the fitness of business executives as government executives or the profile of the Republicans as defenders of the rich and the Democrats as the sentinels of the poor — none is as perplexing as perhaps the central question of the age:
Does the truth still matter?
It emerged again recently when reports surfaced that the president, who had previously acknowledged his presence on the “Access Hollywood” videotape, has suggested that he did not make the comments on the tape. He also resumed questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States — despite having said he accepted it as true last year. In a speech, Mr. Trump, contradicting almost every analysis of the tax bill, said the measure would hurt wealthy people, including himself.
For nearly a half-century in journalism, from hometown cub reporter to national political correspondent to metro daily executive editor, I’ve navigated with the aid of a newspaperman’s North Star: the conviction that there is such a thing as objective truth that can be discovered and delivered through dispassionate hard work and passionate good faith, and that the product of that effort, if thoroughly documented, would be accepted as the truth.
Mr. Trump has turned that accepted truth on its head, sowing doubts about the veracity of news reporting by promoting the notion that the mainstream media spews “fake news.” Employing an evocative, sinister phrase dating to the French Revolution and embraced by Lenin and his Soviet successors, he has declared that great portions of the press are the “enemy of the people.”
Much of the Trump rhetoric on the press, to be sure, is less statecraft than stagecraft, designed to dismiss negative stories — as if the media had been never critical of past presidents instead of the equal-opportunity pugilists who bedeviled Bill Clinton (in the Monica Lewinsky episode) and George W. Bush (in the aftermath of the Iraq war).
可以肯定的是，特朗普的雄辩才能更多的是舞台表演才能，而非治国才能，旨在驳斥负面报道——好像媒体从来没有批评过之前的那些总统似的，而实际上，媒体是秉持机会均等主义的拳击手，曾经让比尔·克林顿（Bill Clinton，在莫妮卡·莱温斯基[Monica Lewinsky]事件中）和乔治·W·布什（George W. Bush，关于伊拉克战争的后果）头疼不已。
Even so, Mr. Trump can be credited with prompting, however inadvertently, the most profound period of press self-assessment in decades — and it comes at a period of unusual financial peril for the mainstream media. All around are sad affirmations of the diminishing credibility of the press, disheartening reminders that at least a third of the country, and perhaps more, regards our work as meaningless, biased or untruthful. In newsrooms, as at newsstands across the country, difficult but vital questions about the methods and motives of the press are being raised, forcing newsmongers and consumers of news to question long-held assumptions.
Earlier this year, Representative Tim Murphy, a Republican whose district includes the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh, told a closed-door fund-raiser in the tony Duquesne Club that our newspaper, the Post-Gazette, specialized in “fake news.” One of my sources called me while the session was underway, and when it ended, I telephoned the astonished Mr. Murphy and demanded an apology, which he granted only reluctantly. Eight months later our paper reported that the congressman, ardently anti-abortion, had sought to persuade his mistress to undergo the procedure. He later resigned under pressure.
今年早些时候，共和党众议员蒂姆·墨菲(Tim Murphy)在高档会所迪凯纳俱乐部(Duquesne Club)的一场闭门筹款会上表示，我们的报纸《消息邮报》(Post-Gazette)专门报道“假新闻”。墨菲的选区包括匹兹堡的南部郊区。在筹款会进行过程中，我的一名消息人士致电告诉我这个消息，筹款会结束后，我给深感意外的墨菲致电，要求他道歉，他不情愿地答应了。八个月后，我们的报纸报道称，这位强烈反对堕胎的国会议员曾努力说服他的情妇去做堕胎手术。他后来迫于压力辞职了。
This has become routine. The most prominent public-relations officer in Pittsburgh told us that a perfectly benign, and completely accurate, report on his institution’s activities was another example of fake news. Our police reporter repeatedly gets emails accusing her of producing fake news. Readers have called our high-tech writer charging she had produced fake news. I speak in the community all the time, and in the past year the question of whether The Post-Gazette is a purveyor of fake news never fails to come up. It’s almost always the first question.
My answer: In the 15 years I have been executive editor, we have not knowingly published one story, or one paragraph, or one sentence, or one syllable that was not true.
It’s not that these questions never emerged before. It was possible to assemble established facts to argue, for example, that the 906 bills passed by Congress from 1947 to 1949 — including the Taft-Hartley Act and the major reorganization of the armed services and the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency — meant that Congress was productive in that period. But it also was possible to arrange the same facts, or to pick some facts and to omit others, to argue quite the opposite, as Harry Truman did in the 1948 presidential election when, in politically potent rhetoric, he spoke of the “do-nothing 80th Congress.”
此类问题并非从未出现过。比如，你可以根据既有的事实认为，美国国会在1947至1949年间通过的906个法案表明，那个时期的国会是富有成效的，包括《塔夫脱-哈特莱法案》(Taft-Hartley Act)、武装部队的重大重组，以及中央情报局(Central Intelligence Agency)的创立。但你也可以根据同样的事实，或者选择一些事实、忽略其他事实，做出相反的论述，正如哈里·杜鲁门(Harry Truman)在1948年的总统选举中所做的那样：他在政治演讲中，振振有词地提到“无所作为的第80届国会”。
During Watergate, Vice President Spiro Agnew spoke of “nattering nabobs of negativism” to attack the press that bit by bit was uncovering the truth of President Richard Nixon’s lies. This year we had Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, introducing the notion of “alternative facts.”
在水门事件期间，副总统斯皮罗·阿格纽(Spiro Agnew)指责媒体是“喋喋不休的否定主义巨头”，当时媒体正在一点一点地揭露理查德·尼克松总统的谎言。今年，总统的顾问凯莉安·康维(Kellyanne Conway)提出了“另类事实”(alternative facts)的说法。
Her phrase became an instant flash point, for almost no one seriously believed that provable facts had contradictory alternatives. There is no alternative to the fact that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth, nor to the fact that the earth’s atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen, nor even to the fact that Mr. Trump’s Inauguration Day crowd was smaller than Mr. Obama’s.
Though political figures often tell whoppers, it is incontrovertible that there is such a thing as the truth. The larger question remains: Do people still care?
They should, and need to. The human story is replete with examples of moments when the truth was traduced or when the truth was obscured: the disputed reports about how the battleship Maine was sunk in 1898; the trumped-up conspiracy surrounding the 1933 burning of the Reichstag that led to a brutal suspension of civil liberties shortly after the Nazis took power in Germany; the false contention that the U-2 reconnaissance plane flown by Francis Gary Powers in 1960 wasn’t engaged in espionage over the Soviet Union; the misleading claims about the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin episode that drew the United States deeper into Vietnam; the repeated obfuscations of the 1970s Watergate scandal; Bill Clinton’s 1998 denials of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky; and the false belief that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
他们应该在乎，也需要在乎。人类的故事充满真相被诋毁或掩盖的时刻：关于1898年“缅因号”战舰(Maine)如何沉没的有争议报道；纳粹在德国掌权后不久，围绕1933年德意志帝国国会大厦被焚事件捏造出来的阴谋，该事件导致德国粗暴地取消了公民自由；关于1960年弗朗西斯·加里·鲍尔斯(Francis Gary Powers)驾驶的U-2侦察机没有在苏联上空从事间谍活动的错误论点；关于1964年北部湾事件的误导性陈述，它导致美国进一步深陷越南；关于70年代水门丑闻的层层迷雾；1998年比尔·克林顿对与莫妮卡·莱温斯基关系的否认；以及2003年关于萨达姆·侯赛因(Saddam Hussein)拥有大规模杀伤性武器的错误观念。
The president’s taunts have prompted long-overdue if uncomfortable and unwelcome reflection in our newsroom and others. But it has also prompted all of us to be more humble, more careful and more dedicated than ever to the basic elements of our craft: to marshal facts, produce stories and pay little mind to criticism, whether from left or right.
To show, by our work, that the truth still matters.
本文作者David M. Shribman是《匹兹堡消息邮报》(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)的执行主编，目前正在撰写一本题为《真相简史》(A Short History of the Truth)的书。