Opinions Are Not Lies

Dear Editor,

In the court of public opinion, data shouldn’t be filtered/cleansed by third party “fact checkers” to protect the “innocent.”  “Fact checkers” inability to differentiate fact from opinion reduces credibility. Communicating different opinions is not a lie, just as communicating agreement is not truth.

A major news organization reporter recently responded to similar complaints.  They defended “fact checker” use and doubled down on claims Trump lied regarding the 2016 debates.

The author claims unnamed experts agree Trump lost the debates.  Regardless of the credentials of who holds the opinion, expert opinion remains…an opinion.  Several equally reputable experts believed Trump won.  Which expert is lying?  None, it is an opinion.

The author claimed statistically significant well-constructed polling demonstrates Trump lost the debates.  It is easy to misinterpret/misrepresent poll results.  The most well constructed polling can be wrong, or unrepresentative of the population.  Polling depends on the questions asked.  Asking respondents who appeared more intellectual, doesn’t automatically translate into whether they believe the candidate won or lost.  That is an entirely different question.  You have to look at the questions asked to evaluate polls appropriately.  Another problem with post-debate/pre-election polling, is the extreme polarization.  Supporters of the candidate labeled deplorable, either refused to answer or told the pollster what they thought they wanted to hear. In the end opinions are being polled. All you can really say is statistically, based on respondents, the poll demonstrates more people share this subjective opinion.  Others disagreed.  Are the respondents who believe Trump won lying?  No, it is an opinion.

Finally, the ultimate goal of every debate is to win the election.  The best objective measure of who wins a debate, is who wins the election. Trump accomplished what was needed in the debate to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the election.  Clinton did not.

Trump is not lying for thinking he won the debates.  Even if the majority of experts and well-constructed poll respondents believe Trump lost, this remains a subjective opinion.  The experts and respondents who believe Trump won are not lying.  They are stating a logical difference of opinion.   As an educated reader, please describe the evidence instead of using unnamed “fact checkers” to support accusations. Misclassifying difference of opinion as a lie demonstrates either a knowledge gap or bias.

Alan Burke