Here on this island off the coast of Rhode Island, the weather is highly changeable. The winds and currents bring different climates daily. While storms surge in the South, we feel the movement in the water and wind here as the knock-on effect in full force.

This morning I awoke at my usual 6:30 and went to sit and watch the fishing boats go out, probably hunting stripers off the southeast point. However, this morning was a wall of fog, so I could not see the next house let alone the ocean. The world was a gauze curtain of soft gray. It morphed and moved a bit and peeks of sky came and went until, around 8:45, it began to blow northwest and away.

As I sat and looked at that fog, it made me think of this election season, not only what has been happening but what is coming hard and fast: the fog of disinformation that has become part of our political landscape. And it is every bit as illuminating as this fog, which is to say it is not illuminating or informative at all. It obscures, tricks the eye and mind and puts our little boats, ourselves, and our votes, at risk.

I say this on behalf of both candidates. I am not talking about which person to vote for. I am talking about the worry that has been growing around our process and the terrible influence of foreign agents and provocateurs. It should be of greater concern than I think it is.

Social media is a tricky thing and it is addictive for many of us. It is largely open for anyone to say and claim anything, to edit video and present it as truth, to say both what is true and what is blatantly false with little or no verification or pushback for lies. We should all be concerned.

As social media replaces fact-based, fact-checked media, it is gaining traction as a well of knowledge. It is certainly not that.

No matter which party or PAC or provocateur, it seems to me that we are being bombarded with information that has no basis — or little basis — in the real world but resembles more “reality based” shows on TV where we are meant to believe that what is said and done is not scripted (when it is), spontaneous (when it is not) and paid for by interested parties, which reality TV surely is.

We will never go back to the “good old days” of Walter Cronkite, and though I miss Huntley-Brinkley and their ilk where fact and good interviewing set up our dinner discussions, those days are over. We must now insist on more watchdogs at our news gates. I don’t mean censorship, but I do mean that we should know who is writing the script, who is paying for the show, where the “facts” come from and have fact checking as a part of all news.

Editorials belong on a separate “page,” if you will. Facts are facts albeit with ways of interpretation, but the sky is either blue or it is not. Storms are hurricanes or they are tornadoes or they are showers — one should not be confused with the other. The further we get from proper definitions of what words mean, what a fact is, the further we get from controlling our own choices. A choice based on falsehoods is a con game and not a good way to pick a car or a candidate.

I am hopeful that whoever wins our Senate, House or White House that we as citizens will start insisting that bloviation, obfuscation and fog get lifted and people are held to account. It does mean that “we the people” have to do our due diligence and homework a bit more but so be it.

Outside powers or inside powers who choose to lie and obfuscate should be banished in the best of all possible worlds, but barring that I will take a strong law that helps us keep everyone in the land of less fog and more clarity of fact.

Now as I gaze out the window I see the houses, the ocean and the sky as they are — it is now up to me to decide what my choices are with this day. Before, it was the fog that made all the choices.

We are smart enough, good enough, wise enough to bear the facts and decide. No fog please.

Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.

(12) comments

Sally Larson

I do look forward to the cancelation of the "American Reality Show" and see our country get down to the business of being a world leader again. The drama created by misinformation is doing all of us more harm than good and is unnecessary. The fear of what the other side is going to do is destroying people and causing such anger and spite, it's just wrong. There's so much more to our country than just two parties.

Mark Hayes

Sally, you must be very gifted, you speak out of both sides of your mouth. You speak of your contempt for Trump and those who support him, while seeking common ground, peace and tranquility. You have expressed adulation for Biden and Democrats, how can you justify supporting those such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, IIhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida TLiab ? They are the new face of your Democratic party.

Sally Larson

Mark, I'm just so sick of it all. The fears and anxieties both sides feel need to stop. Listen to your fears, I have them too. Do any of us really know what will happen if Biden wins? No, it's all just conjecture based on opinions that don't amount to anything. I know I will never change your mind and you won't change mine. All I can say to you is if I ever met a Donald Trump character my gut instincts would tell me to never trust him and not allow him near my home and family. I've known people like him and they are unstable liars and manipulators and care about no one or anything but themselves. I don't think that's the character we need as President of the United States. If it weren't for Trump, and there was a good person in the White House I would vote for them. I am an independent and vote for the person, not the party. I don't even recognize the Republican party from my younger years when I was one of them. Everything has changed and the platforms each party stands on aren't the be-all and end-all. I don't agree with only one.

As I said in the beginning, I'm just so sick of it all.

Conrad Meyer

"I'm so sick of it all, I'm so sick of it all, yadda yadda yadda"

Yet you keep coming back here every day and posting. Shaking my head......

Keith Miller

Ms Larson...you may say you are an Independent and in your mind you may believe that...but all you have ever posted on here screams socialist democrat !!

Mark Hayes

Sally, you are not an Independent , you are a registered Democrat and have been for years. You are a supporter of those mentioned, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, IIhan Omar, Rashida TLaib. I don't fear them, I hold a deep loathing for them, and those that support them. When you have a Presidential candidate that makes comments such as the one Biden made, " If you are African-American and struggle with voting for Trump or me, then you ain't Black," well that is pretty revealing as to how White Democrats think. There are many Black Americans in the entertainment business that have abandoned the Democratic party, they have recognized that they have been used, and that White Democrats for decades have had an expectation of that Black vote, almost demanding it, or else. Enough said on this subject, mules in separate tracks remain unmoved. Enjoy the day.

Ed Pieczynski

Sally....oh but we do know what a Biden/Harris administration will look like. One only has to look at states like California and New York or cities like Seattle, Portland, LA, Chicago to see what a Biden/Harris future holds.

Mark Hayes

Joyce, check out the Vanity Fair interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then you will know where this country is headed.

John Vann

This is probably the least political article Joyce has ever written, but I disagree also with the canonizing of Walter Cronkite. Having seen his news program in 1969 where he reported on American forces committing atrocities, with footage to "prove" it and leave the impression that it was on a widespread scale, (when in fact, fact Joyce, it was a blatant lie), I lost all respect for "the most trusted man in America. He was a liberal from the beginning a liar in many cases to "prove" his political leaning, just as MSNBC does now. And, if you are after facts, listen to the retired Naval officer Bobinski, who just corroborated (in addition to boatloads of other corroboration of facts, not opinion). that Biden and his family are beholden to the Chinese and others, and that Joe, in addition to his son Hunter, are probably the most corrupt politicians in history. The truth about Huntergate is out there, but the "mainstream media" and SOCIAL MEDIA, are squelching it with blatant censorship. Don't talk about facts and social media without mentioning censorship and media bias to the extreme that is well known to those with open minds.

Keith Miller

Mr Vann...well said !!!

Patricia Bryan

When I read, or try to read, the daily newspaper we get (for the crossword, jumble and bridge column which they manage to mess up on occasion), I wonder if there are any people who can write a news report that should be on the opinion page, not straight news reporting. My old journalism teacher would roll her eyes at what there is to read today and I think Al Neuharth who founded USA Today, is heartsick from his grave to see what has become of his paper. It's not USA Today, it's USAYesterday, with no decent editing either. Walter Cronkite was better than any of the talking heads on main stream media today - I never knew until after he retired what his political leaning was. Today no two words can come out of their mouths that aren't slanted in one direction or another.

Good old days of Walter Cronkite? A liar and a narcissist. “This war is lost” was perhaps his biggest lie, referring to the Tet offensive in Vietnam that was actually a decisive American victory. The consequences of Cronkite’s biggest lie were countless deaths in Southeast Asia, violence and unrest here at home. What the author is probably referring to is the monopoly that the few news channels had on information in the past, which lasted until the new media broke this. Thank goodness it did. The fog still remains among the left that refuses to listen or read anything not emanating from the rapidly shrinking world of mainstream media.

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