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Perhaps the most crucial intangible component to an individual’s makeup is honesty. From the time most of us were still being bounced on our parent’s knee we were told how important it is to be truthful in our lives. “Your word is your bond,” is an expression many of us undoubtedly heard throughout our formative years.

There are very few factors on which we human beings can find common ground and readily admit that we are the same. Thoughts, feelings and opinions can vary greatly within a particular household not to mention across ethnicities, cultures, state lines and international boundaries.

Despite the assorted array of differences that exist within our species, we all have one thing in common. No matter the situation or occupation we all want to be told the truth, and we are all expected by those we come in contact with to respond in kind. The man from Calcutta, India, expects nothing less than forthright honesty, just the same as the man from Des Moines, Iowa. It is one of very few things all of mankind truly has in common.

I don’t think the brief observation I just made is going to catch anyone by surprise. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Yeah, so what’s the point?”

The point is that if you’re a member of the human race you expect the truth, yet we are all lied to and deceived on an almost daily basis by our fellow man. Some lie for their own financial gain. Some will lie to you to protect your feelings while others will lie to protect theirs, and still others seek to deceive in order to influence.

Despite the way many of us were raised, the older we get the more aware we become that truth can be somewhat of an elusive creature. Thankfully, there are some in our societies who we don’t have to doubt when it comes to honesty and truthfulness. Our doctors, our clergy and our teachers, just to name a few, are individuals whom we all can reasonably assume will speak to us accurately and with candid honesty.

But who else do we trust, or at least who else would we like to be able to trust? I think it’s safe to assume that we would all like to trust our politicians, while we also anticipate being able to rely on the information given to us by members of the media. What we are told by these individuals can oftentimes greatly affect our lives in many ways, and we expect to be properly informed so as to best understand the world around us. It shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Unfortunately, the level of faith in our politicians and journalists is deteriorating at a steady pace. Now, the flimsy character and level of transparency (or lack thereof) with which many of our politicians behave doesn’t need much elaboration. Similarly slippery conduct by a significant number of our “trusted” media cohorts does, however.

Many of us on a consistent basis rely on media to accurately inform us regarding a host of political and social issues that can have a direct impact on our daily lives.

I have been intimately involved in many situations over the years where I had firsthand knowledge of events as well as the individuals involved only to witness media grossly misconstrue the facts as they existed, while those on the other side of the newspaper or TV program were never the wiser. In many of these instances, the reporting journalist or journalists may not have been attempting to consciously deceive, but the level at which they sought the truth was a far cry from a yeoman’s effort.

Far too many times media fall drastically short of their code of ethics and mislead the American people. And far too many times the last ones to know they have been duped are those very same people, you and me.

Sometimes misinformation is spread through hate or ignorance. Other times it is cast from a simple desire to deceive thereby influencing the reader, watcher or listener.

Here in Atlanta recently, some of my “shock jock” friends over at Rock 100.5 FM engaged in a clever ruse that completely proves my point.

“The Regular Guys” – a show I’ve been on many times – duped some of the top media outlets in not just Atlanta, not just in America, but the entire world by creating/manufacturing a fake protest against singer Justin Bieber and a supposed move to the tony Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead the somewhat delinquent entertainer was planning on making.

It was 100 percent a hoax. The protest was a hoax along with the entire notion the pop singer was planning to relocate to the area. Everything was fabricate and fabricated none the less by a “shock jock/ Howard Sternesque” morning drive time radio show. But the media in their shrewd wisdom bought it. Some 37 different news organizations, including CNN, which is based in downtown Atlanta no more than 5 miles from “The Regular Guys” studios, reported on the big piece of juicy scoop.

If shock jocks who have a two-decade-long reputation for pranks, stunts and taking very little seriously can fool “reputable” members of the mainstream media, then how hard can it really be?

Check a source; do some research before making outrageous claims in an effort to satisfy your rabid lust for sensationalism, big headlines and negative propaganda.

We all want the truth. I’ve been a direct party in a number of situations and have seen for a fact that with American mainstream media the truth is not always what you’re going to get. It happens much more than one would think and much more than any journalist will ever admit. It basically comes down to the age old cliché, “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” Don’t be a fool to the mainstream media.

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