To say that American journalism is under intense scrutiny doesn't even come close to describing the disarray existing inside many national news operations. The most vivid example of that statement is ABC News suspending high-profile investigative reporter Brian Ross because he erroneously reported that, as a candidate, Donald Trump ordered members of his staff to coordinate with Russian operatives.
Mr. Ross has no evidence to back that up. Instead, he relied on anonymous sources who apparently misled him.
The president of ABC News, James Goldston, is well aware of the damage Mr. Ross' mistake has done to his operation. But Mr. Goldston must know that ABC News has programs like "The" View on the air which besmirch honest journalism on a daily basis.
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Immediately after Brian Ross misreported the extremely important Trump situation, uber-liberal Joy Behar celebrated enthusiastically on "The View," believing the end was near for the President. If ABC News wants credibility with the American people, "The View" should be moved back to Disney's entertainment division where it can coexist with Mickey Mouse.
In the fall of 1976, after Watergate, one poll reported that 72 percent of Americans had confidence in mass media. Last year that number had fallen to 32 percent, according to research done at Boston University's School of Communications, where I received a Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism.
The dean of the school, Tom Fielder, told a BU magazine that the national media often leans progressive and "tends over time" to alienate Americans. Dean Fielder states that during last year's presidential election "there were a lot of Trump voters who felt disrespected by the press, which they associated with liberals, or people who look down on them."
That is certainly true and Donald Trump harnesses that resentment to mobilize his base, creating an "us vs. them" scenario. In addition, anti-media sentiment is one of the reasons that Roy Moore might win the senate race in Alabama next week despite disturbing allegations against him.
Dean Fielder goes on to say that the current media mania of using anonymous sources, which bit Brian Ross hard, is also destroying press credibility. "Anonymous sources are cancerous," Fielder states.
So Boston University is challenging its journalism students to get back to reporting verifiable facts. That is a hopeful sign, because America very much needs a press the people can trust.
And right now we don't have one.
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