I don’t usually think much about things I have already published, but I have continued to meditate on the subject I wrote about here — and there’s good reason for that, I believe. You read a story like this one and you realize how pervasively the people who profit from minors who (supposedly) suffer from gender dysphoria lie. They lie about the conditions of the children who come to them, they lie about the likely effects of their interventions, they lie about what they do and don’t do — they lie about everything and it seems that they never stop lying. But then, we in this country also spent four years with a President and a White House staff who lied virtually every time they opened their mouths — lied even when there was no clear advantage to lying, evermore pursuing the preferential option for bullshit.  

I could provide ten thousand examples, but I don’t think it’s necessary: we all know that this is the situation we’re in. There’s a lot of talk right now — thanks to this op-ed by Leonard Downie — about “objectivity” in journalism, which term I think is a red herring: nobody has any clear idea what it means. I have never asked whether a journalist is objective; I have often asked whether a journalist is telling me the truth. And when Downie says that renouncing objectivity is a newspaper’s path to “building trust” with readers, what he clearly means is that you gain your readers’ trust by sending a strong message: We will never tell you truths you don’t want to hear; we will always tell you consoling lies; and that’s how we’ll get you to give us your money. He means nothing more or less or other than that. 

So I think there is no more important question for us to ask than this: Given that almost everyone in the media is lying to us constantly, how can we discover what is true — especially when the truth hurts?  

Many years ago there was a huge investigation in Chicago into systemic corruption in the judiciary. It was called Operation Greylord, and it had several offshoots, because more and more corruption was uncovered. My wife ended up on one of the grand juries — for eighteen months she took the train into Chicago every Wednesday to hear testimony — and one of the occasional topics of discussion was what the prosecutors should call their inquiry. They ended up calling it Operation Lantern, because someone thought the original suggestion too fancypants: Operation Diogenes. The prosecutors felt that, like Diogenes with his lantern, they were looking for, but apparently failing to find, one honest man.

That’s what we need for journalism in America: our very own Operation Diogenes. And if we can’t find anyone willing to tell us the truth, then how can we discover it on our own? That’s the question we ought to be asking.