Concerning campaign smears, Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt write,

Journalists should avoid presenting both sides of a story when one is false – and take into account how readers’ brains process the disagreements. The following four rules can guide their efforts.

1. State the facts without reinforcing the falsehood…

2. Tell the truth with images…

3. Provide a compelling storyline or mental framework for the truth.

4. Discredit the source.

Thanks to Mark Thoma for the pointer.

Their point is that reporting both sides and letting people make up their own minds is dangerous. Often, people will believe the side of the story that is false.

It is true that people often will believe a false narrative. But I fear that some of the most dangerous false narratives are promulgated by the very reporters that Wang and Aamodt are speaking to.

In the end, I do not believe that the best way to counteract manipulative narratives is to engage in manipulative counter-narration. I would advocate trying to seek the truth and to report it without manipulation.