Truth about the media.
The Reuters Institute just released a survey of 92,000 news consumers in 46 countries and here’s the headline. Just 29 percent of consumers trust the media in the United States, placing U.S. media dead last in the world. According to Reuters more consumers trust the media in Nigeria and Columbia than they do in the United States.
The report is shocking. Except for those on the far left who think it fashionable to hate their country, it is generally true that Americans want to be the best at everything. The fact that for the most part we have been for most of the past century is evident whenever you travel abroad. TV newscasts all over the world directly imitate newscasts in the United States. They want to be like us. (Or at least they did.)
Though we should be disturbed by the Reuters survey we shouldn’t be surprised. Not when NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt gives a speech recently and says,
I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.”
The towering arrogance embodied in that statement is breathtaking. The world that Holt and his media peers find themselves in is one occupied by a tiny, elite circle of coastal sophisticates who are forced to share a country with an unwashed horde of unsophisticated, low-brow flyover rubes.
Disgusting as that belief is, at least give Holt credit. We know that he and his peers have felt this way for quite a long time now. Kudos to Holt for finally saying it out loud. We can all stop pretending now.
And lest you think I have fixated on one remark from one man in an attempt to paint with too broad a brush, consider this statement from communications professor emeritus Ted Glasser of Stanford University.
Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”
In other words, as long as the reporting advances a worthy goal as exclusively defined by the reporter and his organization, the actual objective truth of a story may be safely ignored.
Or put more simply, truth be damned.
This elite disregard for objectivity and fairness goes a long way to explain our sharply polarized politics. Elite journalists have taken it upon themselves to decide what is acceptable policy and who is acceptable to hold office. Those of us who hold other ideas are either contemptuously ignored or malevolently set upon.
The brand of big-league American journalism that we all grew up with, and the journalism that is explicitly protected by the first amendment to the Constitution, is by the practitioners’ own admission, dead and gone. The Reuters Institute survey confirms it.
A press that reports the doings of government without fear or favor is essential to a healthy and prosperous republic. That most Americans no longer trust it to do so has grave implications.