Here's Something: Press should shed light, not heat, on Trump's wall

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Light allows us to see things for what they are. Without light, we’re blind. And life is hard when you’re blind.

Likewise, current events would be impossible to decipher without the press shedding light on what’s happening. We rely on its members to show us the truth.

The press covers just about every facet of modern life: politics, science, art, sports, food, business, travel and so on. Some of us may have primary knowledge of current events because of our jobs or ties within the community, but we mostly discover what’s going on through what the press shows us.

We’ve long taken for granted that what they tell us is true, thorough and unbiased. That has all changed.

Coverage of President Trump has revealed most news outlets as either liberal or conservative. Fox News makes it sound as if Trump can do no wrong, while CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, NPR and major newspapers never waste an opportunity to make him look evil.

As if we needed more proof of this entrenched bias, coverage concerning Trump’s desire to extend the wall at the southern border is clear, indisputable evidence.

Whichever side of the political fence they’re on, Americans are tired of our slanted mainstream news media. We’re tired of not getting the whole story. We’re tired of hype. We’re tired of bias. We’re tired of getting nonstop heat, and we want more light.

With the border barrier issue, the press seems preoccupied with what politicians think of the proposal. That produces opinions and only opinion, which is nothing but heat. We want facts, which is light. The press should don its gumshoes and interview border patrol agents, border dwellers and wall construction experts. These folks can shed light on whether a wall is needed and what it will actually cost. (I doubt Trump’s request of $5.7 billion will cover it.)

Thankfully (and better late than never), the press last week finally gave us some primary sources regarding the wall. It occurred during Trump’s visit to the border in McAllen, Texas. What ensued during that press conference allowed facts regarding our immigration crisis to filter into the national conversation. It also cleared up any questions of whether a wall is needed.

Listen to Raul Ortiz, acting chief of the Rio Grande Valley border sector, who appeared last week with Trump:

“Just in this sector alone, 450 people were apprehended (yesterday) total. We continue to see increases. We are averaging about 620 a day in this sector,” Ortiz said. “Just yesterday I apprehended 133 people from different countries other than Central America and Mexico – from Pakistan, India, Romania, China, on and on and on.”

Ortiz also provided the cold, hard facts that 96 percent of illegal crossings occur in sectors with no fence and that Mexican drug cartels are profiting $1.7 million a week by using unaccompanied children and families as drug mules.

Yes, we have a porous border. Yes, we have an immigration problem. And yes, we need a border wall. Thanks for letting us know the extent of the problem, Chief Ortiz.

Americans questioning the need for a border barrier can be forgiven their confusion, given the state of American journalism, which prizes heat, not light. Heat creates ratings and all-important advertising revenue.

But illuminating light, such as that gained from primary sources like Chief Ortiz, reduces fear and anxiety and helps people see what’s really going on.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

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