Most of us, who are over the age of 40 remember the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. At one time, Walter Cronkite, was not just the most trusted name in news, he was the most trusted person in America. Cronkite anchored the CBS evening news from 1962 till 1981. His nightly news program averaged 29 million viewers per night. Today, CBS, NBC and ABC, combined, don’t average 29 million viewers per night….why?
Part of the reason is that, there are so many more choices now than there was back then. Thanks to technology, you have hundreds of choices, on where you get your news, ranging from television networks, satellite news programs, 24 hour news networks, newspapers, web sites, magazines, social media and more. And they all have one thing in common…they have lots of time and space that must be filled with news.
When Cronkite retired in 1981, he had an 81% positive rating among viewers. His replacement, Dan Rather had a positive rating of 21% when he retired. What Happened?
Why do we no longer trust the media and news organizations like we used to? Why isn’t there a single newsperson who we all can collectively feel reports news stories of the day without bias or lean?
Part of the reason is the race to be first. It’s now more important for a news organizations to be first…to get the scoop on the competition. Yes it’s apparently even more important than it is to be right.
Nearly all news programs on television have some sort of bias, some more than others. Newspapers and web sites are no different.
This really is nothing new, newspapers and other news organizations have always leaned one way or the other, but it didn’t used to get in the way of first and foremost, always making sure the story was correct.
Sources were named and double checked. And if the source was anonymous, then there was at least one and usually two other sources to corroborate what they said. Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie, “All the President’s Men” saw how the Washington Post took down President Nixon. Every story published by the Post about the Nixon administration and Watergate, didn’t go to press unless it had at least two named sources on the record. That just doesn’t seem to be the case today.
If you waste time checking sources, you risk not being first and if you’re not first your last in the ratings and revenue game.
Here is what I consider to be a prime example of what I’ve been talking about. This week, the NY Times ran an article about the Mueller Investigation and this was the headline;
“Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed”
And this is the first paragraph from the article;
“Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.”
(you can read the story here) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/william-barr-mueller-report.html
Who on Mueller’s team said the report was more damaging? Who are the investigators that have said the findings were more troubling than what Mr. Barr had indicated? And who are the associates that the investigators allegedly told all this to? And how did the NY Times get the information from the associates?
I honestly don’t believe this article would have ever made it into the newspaper 25 years ago.
Here are a few of the problems I have with the article.
“Some of Mueller investigators (No names) have told associates (again no names) that the report might be more damaging to Trump than Barr revealed.” (Not that is was more damaging, just that it might be)
Notice…no sources and no names, just suppositions…The NY times didn’t even indicate that they talked to the alleged associates that the alleged investigators allegedly talked to. And the worst part is that numerous news organizations have now picked this story up and are posting and broadcasting it themselves as news, without independently checking to see, if any of the story is actually true. But the other news organizations are covered, because they say, “according to a story appearing in the NY Times”
This is an example of how fake news can easily become real news.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know if any, all or part of this story is true or not and I have no way of knowing, because there are no sources and no names on the record. How can this be reported as real news with absolutely nothing to back up the NY Times claims, other than, they heard that someone said something to someone who then said it to someone else and now the NY Times is reporting it as fact?
But, hey, you do have to give the NY Times credit….they were first, so in today’s news universe, that means they win, right?.
Seriously, Walter Cronkite, we need you now more than ever!