Who Do You Trust?

No this is not the title of a new game show. Rather it is a question about the status of the media and their coverage of the presidential candidates. New opinion data shows that nearly 60% of the America people have scant trust in the national media, which corresponds to the lack of trust for most of the people running for the highest office in the land. We have become a country of deep skepticism of the fourth estate and an unwavering refusal to view the politicians running for the White House as champions of honesty and integrity.

As many voters see it, the major television news networks are biased toward Hillary, Fox has a well- deserved reputation as providing the highest level of misinformation and mistrust, CNN is all opinion all the time, without the facts, no one watches MSNBC because it is boring and the New York Times, the newspaper of record that few read, is irrelevant as it campaigns unsuccessfully to trash Donald Trump.

We have come to a stage in American print journalism, television political reporting and endless social media apps where far too many voters just refuse to listen to the pundits or worse yet show little respect for what they are selling in the way of commentary or investigation. Perhaps it is a function of 24/7 news with its information and analysis overload; perhaps it is that there isn’t a mother or father figure delivering the news like Walter Cronkite ( only those over 50 will remember), or perhaps it is that Americans are so angry and disgusted with the establishment that they are unwilling to see the merit in the mainstream media and would rather rely on the words of charlatans or websites with no legitimate standing.

Whatever the reason, facts now take a back seat to ratings and ranting, talking heads rule the day and serious debate is the stuff of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. We are now experiencing another blow to popular democracy where an informed electorate is fading and mistrust in those who make and report the news is rampant. A successful democracy depends on professional journalists who report the facts and take on the powerful to get at the truth. Sadly, trust in journalists and the media establishment is in steep decline as are the prospects for a vibrant democracy.

 

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