Ripon College President Zach Messitte, left, grins as he hands a diploma to Cordell Walker of Ripon.
Ripon College President Zach Messitte, left, grins as he hands a diploma to Cordell Walker of Ripon.

   The theme of Ripon College’s 2018 commencement was “civil discourse.”

   But the heart of Judy Woodruff’s commencement speech Sunday went deeper to the root underlying the tree of public dialogue:

   Truth.

   “Civil discourse is only possible with a commitment to truth and transparency,” the longtime journalist told the Ripon grads. “These are the lifeblood of a free society.”

   Woodruff, the anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” recalled instances in her own career of covering national politics when false claims were made by politicians, up to and including U.S. presidents.While exaggerations, prevarications and selective memories may be expected in the realm of politics,

   Woodruff warned the audience that assaults on truth and facts are eating away at the root of society.

   “When lies become pervasive, a way of life, whatever the short-term gains, they erode and imperil our democratic society,” she said. “Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, this is something we should all focus on and worry about today.”

Read the full story in the May 17, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.