Tree Frog Forestry News

Seeking Truth Reading News – Telling Truth Writing News

By Roger Whittaker
Submitted Editorial
November 12, 2019
Category: Opinion / Editorial
Region: Canada, Canada West

Roger Whittaker

When I open a story on my computer or spread the inky pages out before me, I have a certain level of expectations. I suppose the writer of the news story is going to seek to edify a reader, telling me things I did not know and lifting me from the depth of ignorance by enlightenment using unassailable facts. The writer’s research will impart information to embolden my journey from oblivion to sensibility. I do not expect to be walloped into stupidity by semantic sleight of hand and stealthy word placement the way I was when began to read the dreadful piece recently included in Tree Frog News daily email news aggregator, “Your hardwood floor was probably harvested illegally” subtitled “U.S. Forest Service test shows as much as 62% of U.S. wood products are mislabelled” by Rachel Koning Beals of MarketWatch. That headline and subtext are designed to mislead me to think that US Forest Service tested all the wood products of USA and found 62% were mislabelled and harvested illegally.

Indeed, further research reveals the US Forest Service partially funded a study done by one person—the only employee of a research firm owned by a nonprofit out to prove their agenda regarding South American timber harvest practices and imply to the reader all wood for sale in the USA is suspect.

Actually, the results only applied to the test group selected from imported-from-Brazil wood. Anyone who has been following the world’s news stories knows Brazil has been a disaster since the Rio Conference—corruption, mismanagement and unstable government have taken the once-shining example of stability and prosperity of South America to a shambles. Any wood harvested with any sort of traceability is a wonder.

Yet this piece you are now reading is not so much to call out Ms. Koning Beals about her twisty relativistic attempt to circumvent the truth. The commenters were on her like a swarm of South American Bees. This piece is to ask you, as a reader, if you also seek truth or if you are living in an echo chamber, reading and hearing from what you read agreements with your own view of the world. Essentially “I want to know that I am right when I make a choice to choose ethically sourced products because the one I choose came from the sustainable product harvest, all other products are bad and those who use them are bad people. I am not one of those Bad People.”

To reinforce this mantra, the self-appointed moral authority MarketWatch is all-knowing of who is good and who is bad and Ms. Koning Beals draws on another story, the demise and destruction of Gibson Guitar for having illegally sourced wood in contravention of the Lacey Act—which was later proven to be a politically motivated attack on Gibson Guitar because Gibson Guitar funded the bad guys (Republicans).

Truth in the press, or more pointedly, lack of truth by sneaky writing is not something new; there is a 1965 San Francisco Press conference with Bob Dylan with a whole room of newshounds asking questions – the whole 30 minutes is recorded and available on several internet-based video share sites. Throughout the entirety of the Q&A, Dylan appears to be aloof and a difficult interviewee. Partway through he takes the questioners to task and asks them what difference is it if he responds or not, as they will write whatever they want anyway. At 13:05 minutes in, he is asked to comment on a piece written by someone who called Dylan a “disconnected person,” and he responds by saying he did not say that the writer “drove those words into my mouth,” Dylan goes on to say that often the writer will distort or put a different question to the answer than was originally asked to gain the quote.

What writers who practice this deception are hoping is readers will simply refer to headlines in their memory and when they read the reference, such as an attack on a company by an arm of the US government, a reader will assume the government enforcement agency was acting with due diligence because one expects that from a government agency. These deceptive writers hope readers will never have read the follow-up stories about vindication and how the offending company offered an out-of-court settlement rather than go to trial, which would cost millions.

A second example of contrived reader confusion would come from demonizing a group of people who used to be the heroes of our past, in this case, the Paul Bunyan types. “Loggers,” she writes, a catch-all phrase deriding all who practice the trade. Her morally superior high road is to not choose to use wood on your floor because you cannot be sure it wasn’t cut under nefarious circumstances, thus setting about to call into disrepute all who call the forest their office, the same way the No Fur folks destroyed the ingenuity and income of those who live in Canada’s North.

And again let me emphasize: this piece you are reading now is not to correct the false narrative expounded by Ms. Koning Beals; the point of this piece is to ask you, as a reader, to look at the use of linguistic sleight of hand as you read.  

For information contact
Roger Whittaker
604.414.6266
5664 Nelson Ave
Powell River, BC
V8A 4E2