CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR CHARLIE Sykes, right, visits after his talk at Ripon College with a man bearing a Kennedy campaign button on his cap. 		         Tim Lyke photo
CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR CHARLIE Sykes, right, visits after his talk at Ripon College with a man bearing a Kennedy campaign button on his cap. Tim Lyke photo

     If the linchpin to a successful republic is a citizenry sufficiently informed to make thoughtful choices at the ballot box, what becomes of the nation when its people disagree on how to interpret a common set of facts?

     On the same day — Nov. 14 — former WTMJ-Radio conservative talk-show host Charlie Sykes posed a version of this question during a visit to Ripon College, the Associated Press released a poll showing that Americans have trouble separating truth from lies.  

     During his talk in a Todd Wehr Hall classroom, the MSNBC political commentator and self-described “never Trumper” assumed some blame for his rhetoric helping perpetuate cynicism of media during his years on Milwaukee radio as one of Wisconsin’s leading conservative analysts from 1992 to 2016.

     “Oh my God,” Sykes told the 65 Ripon-area residents of varying ages and political persuasions. “We have gone so far, that we have de-legitimized all fact-based journalists — that if it was outside of the bubble, they weren’t going to listen to it, and that we were creating these alternative-reality silos.”

     Sykes took personal responsibility for aiding the transformation of his allegation of media bias — a fair and necessary criticism for a country with a free press — into the complete destruction of media credibility, which he described as the nation’s “immune system” protecting it from propaganda and partisan spin.

     The dilution of the nation’s antibiotic against the infection of packaged “truth” and even outright lies is accelerating, Sykes lamented.  “So I am deeply concerned that we are going to become two nations; that plays out in very consequential ways.” ...
 
                                                     — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Nov. 28, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.