People have the right to lie. And other people have the right to listen to them, and believe the lies if they choose. Improved media literacy might reduce the latter group by instilling critical-thinking skills more widely. But journalists can at the very least make an effort not to make things worse, as so many are doing today.
Whatever they try, media people have to do something to regain some control over their integrity. Right now they’re being played for suckers by manipulators whose propaganda skills are vastly better than journalists’ apparent ability to do their jobs.
As it happens, I favor Hillary Clinton in this race. But this isn’t about advancing the interests of a particular candidate. When she lies, she should be held to the same standard. It's about changing the structural incentives for all candidates—and for journalists.
Debates are only one part of the problem. There’s absolutely no excuse for TV news channels to let campaign surrogates lie on air. A simple policy change would fix that: Lie once, and you never appear on our programs again. Period. Maybe there’s an endless supply of dishonest surrogates, but maybe not.
“For so many here, college athletics is part of their identity, so I think today, it’s more than economics,” said D. Scott Dupree, the executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, which recruits events to the area in and around the state capital. “I think people today feel disappointed, frustrated, ticked off or just plain sad, or a combination of all of the above. People take it personally.”
Officials at the universities in the state that belong to the Atlantic Coast Conference — Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest — expressed disappointment in the N.C.A.A.’s plan. Fan websites became forums for arguments about civil rights law instead of recruiting. Then there was the incredulity that North Carolina, which has hosted more N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament games (251) than any other state, would not do so next year.
“This cuts really deep for me,” said Mayor Nancy Vaughan of Greensboro, whose father was the A.C.C.’s associate commissioner for basketball operations. “We have a history of supporting people throughout our community, and we wish the N.C.A.A. would have made their decision based on the merits of the communities that these tournaments are in and not by something the legislature imposed on us.”