He’s wrong to call for a “Reality Tsar”, but right on what needs to be done

A New York Times technology columnist has suggested the Biden Administration name a “Reality Tsar”, to confront “disinformation” in the news, and in ways, extreme political thought. The idea is that this person would be appointed to lead a multi-agency task force, as a response, to a “reality crisis” in this country. 

On its face, and how it’s being reported by center-to-right publications, it’s an idea that any one person could be in charge of what is right and wrong is dystopian at best, downright nightmarish at worst. And if you took the piece just like that, yes, I would be worried that this idea could grow legs, especially in this White House. 

Appointing a person to vet and judge what news is “legit” or not harkens back to the scene from Good Morning Vietnam where two information censors would mark up teletypes, telling Adrian Cronauer what he could, and could not report on. 

So for the idea of appointing someone to do something similar, from the White House, it should be turned on its face and denounced. Enough said about that. 

2008-01-26 (Editing a paper) - 30
A “Reality Tsar” would do more than just edit the narrative, they would literally dictate the tone of it too. Not a good idea.
“2008-01-26 (Editing a paper) – 30” by Nic’s events is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

However, the column should not be dismissed just based on this. And I would even suggest that there’s some nugget of truth that the White House should explore in the piece. 

A nugget of truth is found in the subsection of the piece entitled “Enact a ‘social stimulus,’ and fix people’s problems”. It recognizes in there that no one person could “bring back” people who believe in out-of-reality ideas (so there goes the effectiveness of a Tsar, just to make a point). 

Instead, it brings up a truth that has not been brought to the forefront as an issue to solve. In the second to last paragraph of the column it says:

“We have to treat this like we would any other social service,” Mr. (Christian) Picciolini said. “We have to destroy the institutional systemic racism that creates this environment. We have to provide jobs. We have to have access to mental health care and education.”

I don’t think I can make a finer point on what Mr. Picciloini said in his last two sentences – we need to get people back to work and we need to get to the resources to help them mentally heal and advance. 

And if you were to ask me what the White House should focus on, instead of appointing a reality tsar, I’d say those two items – getting people jobs and get them mental help – should be items 1A and 1B on the to-do list to bring America back. 

Techcorp office meeting room Hong Kong 2005
Filling this room again with engaged, interacting people will go some way to actually solving the issue of bringing people back to reality.
“Techcorp office meeting room Hong Kong 2005” by dcmaster is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

As the COVID crisis has unfolded, an inconvenient truth about how our society “keeps balance” has starkly come to light. That truth – the fact we need to have people working in conditions where they interact with one another, outside of their home – has been lost in the various dictums and proclamations by government leaders who purport to be “protecting the health of people” during the pandemic. 

Although we have tried as a society to fool ourselves into thinking that “virtual meetings” online is somehow a satisfactory replacement to face-to-face human interaction, the reality is that it’s a temporary substitute at best, a poor substitute at worst, as the crisis continues to drag along. The parallel truth to all this on-line exposure is also the insatiable quest by some to find “a truth” to hook onto, which they conveniently find online. 

So bottom line: a reality tsar – bad idea all around, with a hope that President Biden ignores this out of hand.

Dealing with people by enacting ideas from the social stimulus part of the piece – a good idea and should be on the top of the President’s list of things to do.