90.3 F
Fort Worth
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Washington Post editor to Harvard grads: Truth is ‘life & death’ issue

Other News

Trump, McConnell huddle with virus talks at risk of collapse

By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and the Senate's top Republican huddled Thursday over...

Trump blasts Biden in Ohio: ‘He’s against God’

By JONATHAN LEMIRE Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — President Donald Trump billed his trip to...

‘Sobering’ report shows hardening attitudes against media

By DAVID BAUDER AP Media Writer NEW YORK (AP) — The distrust many Americans feel toward the news media,...

Trump, GOP soften on opposition to $600 jobless benefit

By ANDREW TAYLOR and LISA MASCARO Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and its GOP allies appear...

By COLLIN BINKLEY AP Education Writer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — The Washington Post’s top editor told Harvard University graduates Thursday that facts and truth have become “matters of life and death,” yet he warned that some leaders continue to “undermine the very idea of objective fact, all in pursuit of political gain.”

Executive editor Martin Baron never mentioned President Donald Trump by name during his virtual commencement address, but he took veiled swipes at the president’s attacks on the press and his clashes with the science community.

Baron warned of growing threats to the press and free expression, but also to science, medicine and the idea of fact itself. He said the stakes have been laid bare amid the coronavirus pandemic, as misinformation puts people’s lives at risk.

“The public’s safety requires the honest truth,” Baron told Harvard’s graduating class. “Yet education, expertise, experience and evidence are being devalued, dismissed and denied. The goal is clear: to undermine the very idea of objective fact, all in pursuit of political gain.”

The Post is a frequent target for Trump, who routinely dismisses coverage he doesn’t like as “fake news.” He often takes to Twitter to voice his frustration and has repeatedly called the Post and other outlets “the enemy of the people.”

Yet Trump himself has faced mounting scrutiny over the truth of his claims. Twitter added fact checks to two of his tweets this week, the first time the platform had taken such action, prompting Trump to accuse the company of “stifling free speech.”

During his speech, Baron decried efforts to demonize the press in the United States, saying they embolden other governments to do the same, including in China, Turkey and Mexico.

He cited an increase in journalists being imprisoned around the world, in some cases facing accusations of “false news.” He also cited the 2018 slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

“He was murdered there at the hands of a team sent by highest level Saudi officials,” he said. “His offense? He had sharply criticized the Saudi government.”

Baron warned that “leaders who crave more power for themselves always move quickly to crush an independent press.” But he said they also target historians, scientists, courts, medical professionals and subject matter experts of every type.

“Today the government’s leading scientists find their motives questioned, their qualifications mocked — despite a lifetime of dedication and achievement that has made us all safer,” Baron said.

Trump has often put himself at odds with scientists on topics ranging from climate change to COVID-19. He recently rebuked the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after Fauci cautioned against reopening the nation’s schools too soon.

Baron, a graduate of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, called for a renewed commitment to facts and evidence. He said it’s acutely important now, “when people’s health can be jeopardized by false claims, wishful thinking and invented realities.”

Baron gave his address from his home, while graduates and their families watched online. Harvard is among dozens of universities across the U.S. that canceled campus graduation ceremonies and moved them online amid the pandemic.

A former editor of The Boston Globe, Baron drew on his time in Boston and recounted the newspaper’s work in uncovering years of sex abuse by priests in the city’s archdiocese. The story was later depicted in the 2015 film “Spotlight.”

He also drew on Harvard’s motto, Veritas — the Latin word for truth — telling students they have a duty to continue their pursuit of truth.

“Facts and truth are matters of life and death,” he said. “Misinformation, disinformation, delusions and deceit can kill. Here is what can move us forward: Science and medicine. Study and knowledge. Expertise and reason. In other words, fact and truth.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Postal Service loses $2.2B in 3 months as virus woes persist

By MATTHEW DALY Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it lost $2.2 billion in the...

Loan program ends, hard-hit businesses hope for 2nd chance

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses are in limbo again as the...

US hiring slows in July as signs of lasting damage emerge

By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. hiring slowed in July as the coronavirus outbreak worsened,...

Virus talks on brink of collapse, sides still ‘far apart’

By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — Washington talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money are teetering on the brink of collapse after...

Trump bans dealings with Chinese owners of TikTok, WeChat

By TALI ARBEL AP Technology WriterNEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered a sweeping but unspecified ban on dealings...