A politician can run a flawless campaign, say all the right things from a place of authenticity, hold wildly popular positions and an impeccable public record, but if they say things which upset the powerful, the narrative can be reshaped to paint them as crazy, incompetent, unelectable, treasonous, or all of the above, keeping them out of office forever.
An investigative journalist can spend months breaking a story that severely incriminates extremely powerful people. They can get all the facts right, source everything perfectly, report clearly and concisely, and get full exposure in a mainstream news outlet. But extremely powerful people can use their influence over the political/media class to quickly shift the narrative in the wake of that breaking news story to almost completely nullify its impact by making it seem insignificant.
A leak outlet can create a new and innovative drop box to protect the anonymity of leakers, opening up the possibility of bringing transparency and accountability to power. It can take the utmost care and implement the most exacting standards in confirming the authenticity of documents and protecting the identities of their sources, and it can get true bombshell documents that expose appalling amounts of corruption and malfeasance. But extremely powerful people can shift the narrative around that outlet, and soon millions of people will believe it’s a Kremlin operation and its founder is a smelly Nazi rapist who abuses his cat.
We’ve seen all these things happen. We live in a world in which you can tell the truth at all times, make no mistakes, get very lucky, and be fully supported, but if you do anything to upset those in power, the narrative can be shifted around you to kill your ability to do any good.
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