Neither Bret Baier, Savannah Guthrie, Gayle King, George Stephanopoulos, nor Jake Tapper acknowledged widespread left-wing and partisan Democrat political biases across the news media landscape when asked about “the biggest crisis facing journalism” during a group interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Fox News Channel’s Baier described a broad lack of trust extended toward the news media business; a phenomenon he suggested was amplified by an internet-driven smorgasbord of news media variety:
“Trust, credibility, the fact that there’s so much flying out there, that people want to turn to someplace that they feel they can get the straight scoop. And I think that there’s a lot of challenge because there’s so much online that’s bombarding people everyday.”
ABC’s Stephanopoulos described news media consumers who distrusted him as dogmatic and seeking reinforcement of their own political biases, framing himself as a challenger to the status quo of “conventional wisdom:”
“That so few people believe us… That they're looking for things, fact, stories, narratives that reinforce their beliefs rather than challenge them. And so much of our job is about challenging conventional wisdom, holding people in power accountable.”
Stephanopoulos also shrugged off criticisms of his conduct from news media consumers, advising his colleagues to follow his lead:
“I don’t think any of us can get too hung up on how people read or react to what we do, as long as we take our responsibilities seriously. The most important thing we can do in this world where we’re not trusted is to get things right, be absolutely accurate, absolutely factual. Because we know - we all know it - the price for making a mistake now is incredibly high.”
NBC's Guthrie pushed the pretense of political neutrality and non-partisanship as a journalistic ethos, implying that political objectivity was both achievable, desirable, and commonplace at her employer:
“There’s definitely, in some corners of the media, an emphasis on snark, or there’s a temptation to tweet something that’s clever, and we can’t forget that we’re journalists and we’re supposed to be neutral.”
CBS’s King framed herself and her business colleagues as good faith operators whose conduct is politically objective and non-partisan:
"Everybody that I know that works in this business prides themself (sic) on getting the facts, telling all the sides to the story, and letting the audience decide. It’s never our job to give you our opinion or to let you know what we think about something. It really is getting the facts out and putting them out there and letting the audience decide."
King also described prominent news media figures as unfairly criticized by unspecified persons and groups: “I feel that we’re living in an age where we are under attack for not telling the truth.” She added that it was unfair that her and her colleagues were derided on social media as purveyors of "fake news."
Guthrie, King, Stephanopoulos, and Tapper all agreed that President Donald Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration was “wiretapping” Trump Tower was baseless; exemplifying a lie from a powerful politician that news media outlets needed to correct.
Guthrie concluded that there are no legitimate competing views to the narrative pushed by herself and her NBC colleagues regarding the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump’s political teams:
“The president says he was wiretapped, all evidence is that he was not. That’s not one where you feel a ton of pressure to be seeking the other side, because as it turns out, there is no other side. The facts are out there.”
Stephanopoulos furthered Guthrie’s assertion that there are no legitimate competing narratives on the issue of the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump’s campaign-turned-transition team:
“When a White House refuses to accept reality, at what point do you say, ‘You’re not allowed to come on anymore and broadcast that reality?’ There actually is not another side to certain questions, and it’s not serving our viewers to allow people to come on and say things, at some point, that are not true.”
The only instance of inward professional criticism came from Baier, who noted the news media industry's focus on trees at the expense of the forest:
"People at home look at it and say, 'Why are you focusing on this? This is so process-Washington. I care about my job. I care about my health care. I care about X, Y, Z.' You heard that through the campaign. And I think that sometimes we get centric on what's happening day-to-day in Washington, and we forget about bouncing around to those small markets in Michigan, and Ohio and Wisconsin. I think that happened in the campaign."
The news media industry writ large, said Baier, had "missed" the big social movements of 2016's presidential election:
"But we all missed it. I mean, we all missed the whole thing, I think, collectively. The election. We just didn't see the pushback. We didn't see all the people who said, 'Neither side is working. Kick the table over and start over. I'm for change, even this change. I'm for change. And when I was on my twelfth Uber driver of all different races and backgrounds who said that they were voting for Trump, in different places around the country, I went, 'Something is different, something is happening that doesn't match up with the polling.'"
"The polling wasn't wrong," said Stephanopoulos, differing with Baier, adding, "There was just bad polling in [Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania]."
Watch the complete interview below:
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