Only 6% Trust Media, But It Should Be Less
First Amendment: More information travels faster to more consumers than ever before. So why does a new survey show trust in media at rock bottom? Because so much more accurate information is available elsewhere.
When Matt Drudge in early 1998 broke the story of President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions in the Oval Office study with Monica Lewinsky, it was the dawn of a new era in news reporting. Woodward and Bernstein seemed like the hip, new faces of journalism when they came along in the early 1970s and helped bring down a president. But although no one ever made a movie about Drudge, with a big star playing him, his Drudge Report heralded a bigger change in the public’s reception of information.
Not only did Clinton’s impeachment not lead to the president’s conviction, he may actually be returning to the White House next year. The two reporters for the fixture of the establishment of the nation’s Capital, the Washington Post, may have had long hair, but Drudge in his retro fedora was the real revolutionary. And, unlike in Woodward and Bernstein’s case, the establishment did not cheer him on.
There is no incongruity in the fact that a new poll conducted by the Media Insight Project, a joint project of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, finds the American media’s popularity way down with that of Washington politicians. With 2,014 adults surveyed, only 6% expressed “a lot of confidence” in the press.
That’s because they correctly view the major media as virtually indistinguishable from that same political establishment. No wonder that when Woodward himself began turning critical of the Obama administration, and questioned the president’s trustworthiness, the same media filled with reporters who wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein turned on their once-idolized elder statesman.
The public knows very well that most of the leading political reporters are not the intrepid crusaders for truth they claim to be, that Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played in “All the President’s Men,” but rather ideological warriors devoted to one side winning and the other losing.
Speaking of Redford, his 2015 film, curiously titled “Truth,” whitewashes the infamous RatherGate scandal in which CBS News’ Dan Rather tried to pass off forged documents critical of President George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard in the early seventies as authentic, and get him defeated for re-election in 2004. The press will go all out to destroy a conservative Republican president, but a liberal Democrat like Barack Obama gets helped out of his Benghazi scandal by CNN’s moderator in the second presidential debate in 2012.
Had it been a Republican president who did a total 180 in his pledge that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,” the establishment media would still be pouncing all over him, instead of in Obama’s case letting the story coast into obscurity in a matter of weeks.
The same goes for the numerous other scandals of this administration. From a trillion-dollar fiscal stimulus that didn’t stimulate the economy into recovery as promised, to an Internal Revenue Service that targets organizations that oppose this administration’s political agenda, to the Fast and Furious scandal that gave Mexican drug cartels firearms that led to the killing of a U.S. border patrol agent, the media failed to go for the jugular as they did in, for instance, the Reagan Iran-Contra scandal.
The Media Insight poll found that close to 90% of Americans consider it extremely important or very important that journalists get their facts right. As in RatherGate and so many other cases, the media not only gets the facts wrong but uses also them as political weapons.
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