My grandfather is a source of many of many of my sayings and anecdotes. I always thought he had originated them until I started finding them attributed to other people. He was a stickler for me telling the truth. But one day caught in the reality that his story did not match history he quipped “You never spoil a good story for the sake of the truth.” He also used the phrase from time to time about “creative use of the truth.” One is not lying but one withholds things that would give the truth used a very different spin.
In family lore and in humor these approaches may work well but it should not be so in our relationships with other people, in our community life or in the news media. The recent Sherrod story that made its way onto the front page and news programs is a case in point.
The news media has an obligation to seek and disseminate the truth and not some sort of creative use of a few facts to make a partisan point. We as consumers of the media and as citizens must demand the truth and not simply seek outlets that support our biases. Our local, state and federal legislative processes are in disarray because of the extreme partisanship fueled by the creative license in the use of truth and the inability to seek a middle ground for the common good. It is always about the next election and hardly ever about providing for good governance. Individually and corporately we need to demand the full truth and avoid those sources that are highly partisan.
Jesus told us “the truth will set you free.” But half truth and creative truth merely continues our captivity to untruth and bias.