Trustworthy vs. Authoritative

To find writing that I knew I would trust while reasonably questioning its authority, I turned to CNN. One of the headlines on CNN’s site was an analysis on the latest moment of controversial behavior on part of our president by Chris Cillizza (Donald Trump just hit a new low in the La David Johnson fiasco). The report centers mainly on how Trump reacted to a recent widow of an American soldier’s claims that his condolences call to her went very poorly. Trump responded by claiming the widow lied, a decision that was in obvious poor taste. It was this poor taste that CNN really hammered into its report, doing what they could to make what is becoming a regular story of Trump-being-Trump into “a new low.” The articles is full of language like this, saying “it’s staggering to consider what Trump is doing here” and that “there’s simply no other way to read this” than how they are. I trust CNN. I do not believe that they are delivering inaccurate information here, but this report’s language makes me question their authority. Trump’s actions speak for themselves. I don’t need CNN to express how messed up this whole situation is, and the fact that they do just makes me doubt if their reporting on Trump is accurate since they display such a clear bias. I do trust them, but that’s more because of what I believe, not because this article demonstrates authority on the subject.

To find the inverse of this dynamic, I took a trip over to Fox news. I found an opinion piece by Ari Fleischer, who, based on Fox’s profile of him at least, seems like a writer whose experience grants some immediate authority. The piece, which was on tax reform, read with authority as well, citing numbers to make the point that the rich shouldn’t be as so disproportionately taxed as liberals suggest (Taxes and the rich — yes, they pay their fair share, and they will after tax reform, too). Of course, there was no direct accounting for the numbers Fleischer cites. His links mostly all lead to the same IRS page packed with different documents, never taking the reader directly to the source of his statistics. Then there is the fact of my own liberal bias. I walked into this article with a grain of salt ready to go, and that remained my attitude throughout the piece. Fleischer’s confident voice gives him the appearance of authority, but I cannot help but not trust him.

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