'Erosion of Truth'

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Area native’s new book examines society’s tenuous commitment to facts

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

On May 8, just one week after the annual Law Day observance, a book was released that figures to be especially relevant to those concerned about the continued sanctity of the rule of law in a high-tech society.
The book, by former Detroit Free Press reporter Nathan Bomey, is titled, “After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump.” The 270-page work by Bomey, who now serves as a business writer for USA Today, is published by Prometheus Books and was spawned by the surprising outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

“It will discuss how trends in social media, news media, and politics paved the way for someone to rise to power while skewing the facts,” Bomey explained prior to the book’s release. “The underlying premise is this: We should not be surprised that this could happen because there’s a little bit of Donald Trump in all of us.”

In fact, according to promotional materials for the book, those recent trends have “created the perfect seedbed for spin, distortion, deception, and bald-faced lies,” due in large measure to “shifting news habits, the rise of social media, the spread of entrenched ideologies, and the failure of schools to teach basic critical-thinking skills.”

Bomey, a Saline native and product of Eastern Michigan University who served as editor of the student newspaper during his senior year there, began work on the project in the fall of 2016. He interviewed “a unique mix of executives in the technology world, while also talking with experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, political science, and the media.” His examination presents a less than flattering picture of modern day America.

“On Facebook, we present images of our lives that ignore the truth and intentionally deceive our friends and family,” he said in a prepared statement. “We consume fake news stories online and carelessly circulate false rumors. In politics, we vote for leaders who leverage political narratives that favor ideology over science. And in our schools, we fail to teach students how to authenticate information.”

The book has earned praise from such reviewers as David Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author, and Rem Rieder, a former USA Today media columnist.

Said Maraniss, an associate editor at The Washington Post: “‘After the Fact’ is at once frightening, important, and clear-eyed as it deals with the central question of our times: can truth and facts prevail over manipulations and lies?”

Rieder, a former editor of the American Journalism Review, echoed the comments.

“A penetrating, disturbing, and highly readable look at the multifaceted war on truth, with some smart suggestions for limiting the casualties,” said Rieder in his review of the book.

Random House, one of the nation’s largest book publishers, has chimed in too, acquiring the audio rights to the book. In audio form, the book’s story will be told by Rob Shapiro, a nationally known voice actor and narrator.

“I took it as a good validation of my work,” Bomey said of the move by Random House

Which should come as no surprise to admirers of Bomey, who wrote a widely acclaimed 2016 book on the Detroit bankruptcy saga, titled “Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back.” That book arose out of his award-winning coverage of the bankruptcy while with The Detroit Free Press.

“With that book, I had a head start with my base of knowledge on the bankruptcy case,” Bomey explained.

“With the new book, I basically had to start from scratch, which was particularly interesting and challenging at the same time.”

 

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