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Benghazi report: can you trust the media?

Credit: Tom Williams via AP ImagesThe House Select Committee on Benghazi released its 800-page final report on the 2012 attacks this week. However, Democrats on the committee released their own version the day before. And conservatives on the committee, claiming that the report does not go far enough in blaming then-Secretary of State Clinton, released their own addendum.

So, which version of the tragedy is correct?

Reading about the report in various news outlets is not likely to clear up our confusion. The New York Times, famous for its liberal leanings, headlined: "2-Year Panel on Benghazi Ends, Finding No New Fault by Clinton." However, conservative Fox News disagreed: "House Benghazi report slams administration response to attacks." Other outlets reported the news according to their own biases.

The same has happened with Crisis of Character, a book on the Clintons written by one of their former Secret Service agents. Most liberal outlets have ignored the book or published Clinton campaign statements refuting it. However, conservative outlet Breitbart headlined, "Secret Service Expert Confirms Exclusive Report of Raging Clinton Details from Byrne's Upcoming 'Crisis of Character.'"

Nick Pitts recently wrote Is the Media Biased? Does It Matter? for our website. He cites a Pew Research Center report in which seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said the media "tend to favor one side" when reporting the news. Thirty years ago, fifty-three percent believed this to be true. According to another survey, only fifty-two percent of adults have even "some confidence" in the press.

Historians tell us that we have moved from the agricultural age to the industrial age to the information age. Now we seem to be in the entertainment age.

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman theorizes that rational argument is best conveyed through print. Television, since it evokes feelings better than it conveys information, is better suited to entertainment.

Since television and other video-driven media now dominate our culture (check the dwindling subscription rates of nearly any newspaper in the country), we get our information packaged as entertainment. And we are far more entertained by subjective opinion and arguments than by objective data. So the concept of an objective media is as outdated as last week's newspaper.

However, the biased media is a symptom more than the cause of our confusion. The real problem is that we live in a world dominated by the devil. He loves to promote false doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2–4), lust (1 Corinthians 7:5), pride (1 Timothy 3:6–7), and deception (Acts 5:1–5). This is because he is "the father of lies" (John 8:44). Wherever lies are told, he is at work.

The good news is that "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). So go to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Pray every day: "Lead me in your truth and teach me" (Psalm 25:5). Then choose to speak the truth in love to all people at all times (Ephesians 4:15).

In a culture that does not know what or whom to believe, your integrity will draw others to the One whose character you reflect. If you abide in Jesus' word, you are truly his disciple (John 8:31). Then "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (v. 32). Guaranteed.

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