It can be difficult to know the truth when different media outlets don’t even agree on the basic foundational facts of the story – or when they don’t even cover the same story so coverage can be compared. Establishing reliability by checking the sources does little good since the sources might not be reliable either. However, sometimes one can know when they are being lied to, and count this against the credibility of the source on other things.
AP ran a story on 27 May 2021 called Deep-rooted racism, discrimination permeate US military. Reading the entire text of the article, there is no evidence presented to support the headline’s use of the words “permeate” or “deep-rooted.” What exists in the article are anecdotes from a tiny number of individuals – and we don’t even know for sure that we are getting the whole truth of those incidents. In some cases, it is possible that what they experienced was not racial discrimination at all, but merely normal military discipline, or perhaps some other form of discrimination.
We need statistics, not one-sided anecdotes. The only statistics cited are that in 2020 there were 750 claims filed by service members of discrimination by race or ethnicity. This is only a tiny fraction of military personnel (about 1.4 million active status), and it does not mean any of them were valid claims. Just as racism is a real thing, so are false accusations of racism. In 2017, there were 265 from just five ships. Assuming that 2017 has similar numbers to 2020, this means that almost half of the racism is concentrated in those five ships rather than being widespread. There is a lot more to the military than five ships. Also in 2020, civilians filed 900 claims of racial discrimination and 350 claims of discrimination by skin color. Why are these claims listed separately? Do these categories overlap partially, completely, or not at all? This is not explained. Of course, it is possible that most incidents do not get reported, but the article never even tries to make that case. Also, I find it suspicious that the three numbers from 2020 (750, 900, and 350) are all round multiples of fifty. What are the chances?
The article also mentions that while there are plenty of minorities who are eligible for enlistment, there are fewer who are eligible to be officers. 73% of officers are white, while 8% are black and 8% are Hispanic. However, this should not be surprising since according to Wikipedia, 73% of the United States population is white (though that page does not count Hispanic as a race, so at least some of those whites might also be Hispanic). This means that minorities actually make up a perfectly proportionate number of officers. If the article is correct that there are a smaller percentage of minority officers than enlisted, this means that minorities actually make up a disproportionately high percentage of the enlisted! Does the military discriminate against the white majority? Even if it could be shown that whites made up a disproportionate number of officers, this would only beg the question of what the eligibility requirements are that blacks have a harder time meeting them. It might not be racial discrimination on the part of the military, but symptoms of a problem elsewhere in society.
Furthermore, the article quotes those who suggest that there is nothing wrong with minorities grouping together and self-segregating, and that anyone suggesting otherwise is the racist, yet anyone with a few years of experience in this world knows that if segregation was allowed to persist, it would be taken as evidence of racism. It puts people in a tight spot where there is no way to escape the charge. If they support segregation, they’re racist, and if they oppose segregation, they’re racist. It is impossible to take such claims seriously.
The bottom line is that the article utterly fails to support the claims imbedded in its headline.