Journalism Prof. Friedman: Bergdahl Story 'at Mercy of Media'

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 10:34 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Wanderer or deserter? Victim or traitor?

The public portrait of freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — and other newsmakers — often depends on the media outlets people choose in looking for answers or confirmation of their beliefs, journalism professor and writer Jon Friedman told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

"It means the media can create any kind of reality you want to have," Friedman, a Newsmax contributor, told "Midpoint" host Ed Berliner.

Story continues below video.



As Friedman described it, the breathless, competitive, blow-by-blow coverage of Bergdahl almost demands some kind of selected reality — or framing or point of view — into which the facts can be made to fit.

The question is whether that approach to coverage is creating, or merely serving, an audience whose credo Friedman described as, "We don't know what to think, but we know what to believe."

Either way, the choose-your-reality method can leave the actual subjects of a hot story "at the mercy of the media," condemned to forever "react" to the dominant media portrayal of the moment, said Friedman.

Under the circumstances, Friedman suggested that a White House struggling to explain its secretive and controversial prisoner swap for Bergdahl should stick to "one message" until there's a preponderance of facts.

Otherwise, he said, "It looks like you're flailing."

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