A long time ago (seems like another lifetime), I worked for the White House’s communications contractor to develop a proposal to change the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) from pure text to multimedia. (I was CEO and Chief Analyst of Multimedia Computing Corp. at the time.) We developed a plan in which the PDB would begin to include photos, videos, and the vendor even proposed a live video-conference link to Langley (CIA headquarters), so that if the President had a question about something in the PDF, he could talk directly to the analyst who wrote the report.
The proposal went to the Director of Central Intelligence, who in those days was the top intelligence officer in the nation. His response? “Over my dead body.”
Why? Because what we proposed would have bypassed a system that formerly existed to ensure that the PDB was as objective as possible. I didn’t have the clearance to know who was involved, but before POTUS received the brief, a whole bunch of senior officials reviewed it for objectivity.
“How do you make pictures or video objective?” we were asked. And having POTUS talk directly to an analyst — unheard of! (Yet that’s exactly what VP Cheney did during the run-up to the Iraq war, bypassing the review process and demanding evidence of WMDs. And see what happened there.)
I’m describing this because it comes to mind as people argue over what is “really” happening in our country. I’ve had people on all sides of the madness tell me that I need to open my eyes and see what’s “really” going on. Don’t trust X, they say.
Well, sorry, but as Elvis Presley sang, “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds. And we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds.”
I cannot imagine that we would want one system like this (although I sure hope that the Biden administration restores something like it). But I think we need to do this for one another, knowing that it will still be wrong sometimes and that sometimes people will disagree about objectivity. But we have to try. We can’t go on like this.