Book review: ‘Truth Worth Telling’ by Scott Pelley


In Scott Pelley’s prolog, he writes, “If you are looking for a partisan point of view, stop here.” He goes on to explain that reader would be wasting his or her time. After reading the book, I agree. If that reader is bent on seeing Pelley as simply a part of the liberal media conspiracy, then he or she will certainly draw that conclusion. That said, I would urge that reader to read the chapter on Bill Clinton and still cite a liberal bias. Pelley says, “I praise what is worthy of praise and criticize what is worthy of criticism.”

The book contains a series of short stories — stories that Pelley covered, stories of real Americans and their experiences. In each chapter, he chooses a theme and a person who embodies that theme in the course of the events. Individual people matter; such things as resolve, selflessness, audacity, selflessness, hubris, deceit, etc., matter.

The first couple of stories deal with 9/11. The courage and resolve of the New York Fire Department have been well documented. Specific examples are explored. Also examined is the resolve of President Bush during that time. He knew that the American people needed to see their President at such a time, and not in some secure bunker, as some were advising, and not making some false promises that perhaps could not happen. His address at this critical time set the tone for the nation.

People you’ve heard of, and some you haven’t, are highlighted. Joseph Paulette demonstrates selflessnessin Vietnam. Bruce Springsteen is cited, with examples, for his authenticity. The audacity of Ben Bernanke is credited with saving the nation’s financial system in 2008. Pelley credits Elon Musk with demonstrating the vision that is needed to meet, even create the future. Keep in mind that each of these concepts is supported by stories that include interactions with reporters and their staff. It is obviously a source of pride with Pelley that he credits those around him who allow him to be the reporter that he is. The highlighted people are listed in the table of contents with the characteristic that they exemplify.

Some random quotes:

Elon Musk: “I want to die on Mars, just not on impact.”

In the chapter titled “Hubris — Trump v. Clinton,” Pelley says, “This is one of the chapters of my career that lacks a hero.” Of Russia’s effort to influence the last presidential election Pelley offers, “No blood was shed by the Russian attack on our democracy, but was it truly less harmful to the American way of life than the attacks of 9/11?”

Regarding the individual and the American way of life, “Just as we teach mathematics,we should teach children the honor and happiness and joy and humanity of creating peace around us.”

“Today, all media are around us on all platforms. The dividing line that matters now is the one between journalism and junk.” “Do [search engines] … have a responsibility to use human intelligence to stop the false reporting that poisons our democracy?”

“There was a time in Washington when an opposing legislator had a bad idea. Today, the legislator is a bad person. When we vilify our opponents, there can be no compromise.” “Don’t declare enemies.”

“Truth Worth Telling” explores many subjects. But there is no doubt that the theme is the importance of quality journalism to a functioning democracy. To help govern what is going on, you must know what’s going on. This book needs to be read by every aspiring journalist. It needs to be understood by everyone who wishes to live in a functioning democracy.

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