Learning the news: Calling them like they are

Anyone looking at the facts in good faith can only conclude that the anti-Agenda 21 movement is a conspiracy theory and represents an extreme point of view, writes Roger Plothow.

Among the goals journalists attempt to achieve you often find the word, “objective.” Being a human endeavor, journalism can never achieve complete objectivity, as everyone knows. Beyond that, attempting to be objective does not mean reporting should be sterile or avoid obvious conclusions.

A guest column elsewhere on today’s page takes us to task for our reporting on recent meetings of groups who claim the 1992 document “Agenda 21” is a blueprint for certain power groups to essentially control the world.

On its website, a group called Idahoans Against Agenda 21 claims those behind Agenda 21 seek to:

• Abolish private property. County commissioners, they allege, are at the forefront of this effort.

• Indoctrinate youth and create global citizenship. They cite Common Core as an example of this effort.

• Control every aspect of human activity through regulation and technocracy.

The John Birch Society has embraced the anti-Agenda 21 movement. Its members and others opposing Agenda 21 chafe at the idea that they are conspiracy theorists. “There are too many facts that can be validated to suggest that anyone who understands Agenda 21 is a conspiracy theorist,” the web site states.

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and his wife, Maria, took particular offense at our coverage of recent anti-Agenda 21 meetings because we referred to the effort as a “conspiracy theory” and participants as “extremists.” This, in their view, exhibited a lack of objectivity.

From a certain perspective, they have a point. One option in covering an issue like this is to carefully lay out a set of facts and let readers do the labeling. On the other hand, sometimes when something walks, quacks and looks like a duck, well, you get the idea.

Anyone looking at the facts in good faith can only conclude that the anti-Agenda 21 movement is a conspiracy theory and represents an extreme point of view. For journalists to pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous. Claims made by the John Birch Society and others about Agenda 21 collapse under the most cursory review, so we made the decision, after some discussion, to call it what it obviously is, without apology.

The U.N. has long been the bogeyman of the John Birch Society of similar groups. Meanwhile, polling finds that 88 percent of Americans support our country’s active engagement in the U.N. With that background, supporting a complete pullout is an extreme position.

Agenda 21 is a series of fully voluntary ideas and proposals established in 1992. The “21” is a reference to the 21st century. It simply isn’t a plan to take over the world. Twisting the goals of the effort to world domination is simply without merit. There comes a time when journalists start calling such things what they are. That’s what we’ve done here. It belongs in the same category as truthers, birthers, false-flag fear mongers and climate change deniers.

Roger Plothow is editor and publisher of the Post Register. This is part of a weekly year-long series on media literacy.