by Joseph Jerome
America’s confidence in the news media has hit an all-time low, a recent Gallup poll reveals.
Today, a mere quarter of Americans holds much faith in the press. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is responsible for this precipitous decline. But a good place to start may be the media’s transformation from watchdog into, as Glenn Greenwald puts it, “inept stenographers.”
The New York Times, for instance, recently admitted it grants politicians, campaigns, and senior policymakers final editing power of on-the-record quotations:
From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. . . . It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms.
The revelation comes after The Times sought reader input on whether it “should challenge 'facts' that are asserted by newsmakers.” Readers had evidently become “fed up with the distortions and evasions that are common in public life,” The Times wrote in January.
Six months later, The Times has demonstrated just how far distortions and evasions seep into its own reporting. Modern political reporting has embraced what press critic Jay Rosen calls “The View from Nowhere.”
“Something happened in our press over the last 40 years or so that never got acknowledged,” he writes. “[T]ruthtelling was surpassed by other priorities the mainstream press felt a stronger duty to. These include such things as ‘maintaining objectivity,’ ‘not imposing a judgment,’ [and] ‘refusing to take sides.’”