Former CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter says hidden left-wing bias is a growing problem in the media and is threatening “social cohesion” in the United States.
In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal Monday, Sauter, who led CBS from 1982-83 and in 1986, slammed news outlets that maintain a veneer of objectivity and fairness while pushing reporting biased in favor of left-wing politics.
Sauter began by recalling a conversation from 35 years ago when he insisted that the media at large was only tilted to the left and “could be corrected.” He goes on to say that his prediction was wrong and instead of the media correcting toward the center, it has driven farther left, especially under President Trump.
The highly influential daily newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston are now decidedly liberal. On the home screen, the three broadcast network divisions still have their liberal tilt. Two of the three leading cable news sources are unrelentingly liberal in their fear and loathing of President Trump.
News organizations that claim to be neutral have long been creeping leftward, and their loathing of Mr. Trump has accelerated the pace. The news media is catching up with the liberalism of the professoriate, the entertainment industry, upscale magazines and the literary world. Recent arrivals are the late-night TV hosts who have broken the boundaries of what was considered acceptable political humor for networks.
The former cable news executive notes that the traditional rules of journalism such as “objectivity, balance, and fairness” have been set aside by many reporters convinced that, in covering the Trump administration, they are more concerned with ousting a “dangerous leader” than reporting facts.
The left-wing media has catered to an audience that rewards outlets for overzealous reporting and minimally punishes mistakes as long they are made in favor of one side and against the other, he explains. The dynamic has made outlets reliant on the traffic driven by biased coverage to cover their bottom lines.
“There’s probably no way to seal the gap between the media and a large segment of the public. The media likes what it is doing. Admires it. Celebrates it. There is no personal, professional or financial reason to change. If anything, the gap will expand,” Sauter says.
Sauter proposes that rather than returning to the old doctrine of objectivity, media companies, and their audiences, would be better served if they became honest about their biases.
Publications open about their bias might feel freer to focus on the specifics: story selection, presentation, facts, fairness, balance. Not devoid of subtlety for sure, but manageable.
Journalism affects social cohesion. Convinced of its role and its legitimacy, however, the media doesn’t seem to much care. And the other side can certainly enjoy throwing rotten tomatoes at distant targets.
But America won’t reunite until far more people can look at a news story in print or on the screen and, of all things, believe it.
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