Left laments loss of the one set of ‘facts’ that wasn’t

June 22, 2023

By Tim Worstall

Former President Barack Obama is concerned that we used to have just one set of facts we discussed. Social media has changed this; we now all have facts that we disagree about. Yep, it’s great.

“Everybody sharing the same basic set of facts and then drawing conclusions from it. You did not have big chunks of the population receiving and entirely different reality. That started before social media, social media turned it into a science. “

Well, yes, back in the day of the Fairness Doctrine, three networks and liberals and progressives firmly in control of the newspaper pages, there was indeed just one set of “facts.” What social media has done – and what has the woke really spit nails in their anger – is that social media has shown that these are not facts but opinions. Devoutly held opinions, no doubt, possibly beneficial ones, but they are opinions, not facts.

Is child trans surgery “life-saving medical care” or something we should never do to a child? Does the minimum wage increase employment or decrease it? Is climate change an immediate and catastrophic problem or a chronic one we can work through? 7-year-olds need to be taught the mechanics of gay sex – any form of sex? Or even that 1619 Project idea that the country is structurally racist and built upon slavery?

It is indeed possible to take either side of those points – so, for people, do take each and either side. If people are doing something, then it must be possible to do that thing. But none of those are facts in the same sense that apples fall out of trees because of gravity. That it’s just that the Earth sucks is not an alternative opinion, nor an alternative fact on gravity in the same sense. 

Social media has indeed led to division. Because it’s enabled us all to see that what we were being fed by the progressive monopoly over the old media was not a series of facts, it was a series of opinions, which is why those progressives are so bitter about social media. They’re losing their power over the national conversation, and wouldn’t that make anyone mad – especially after all those years they thought they’d got it covered?

 It is true that not all of the things claimed as truths on social media stand up to examination – they are not, that is, facts. But then, that was always true of that old media; we didn’t know that or have a way to challenge it.

This is, after all, why we have that First Amendment. No one – not the government, not those who would govern us – has a monopoly on the truth, whatever they claim. Social media allows us to act that out.


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