UPDATED: NBC anchor Holt explains why media fairness is overrated
today at 1:55 pm
“Truth” (his apparently) is more important than objectivity
The death of journalism IV–a continuing series
UPDATE AT END
NBC News anchor Lester Holt, while accepting the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington State University, kicked the corpse of what used to be called journalism to make sure it was dead.
Old school journalists–the few of them left–had to be shocked to hear Holt instruct the world that the sacred goals of balance, fairness, objectivity and the rest were less important than the “truth.” His, truth, I imagine.
“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” he declared, adding:
Woah, before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the Sun sets in the west is a fact, any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention. And I know recent events assure that you won’t have to look far to find more current and relevant examples. I think you get my point.
Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous.
Our duty is to be fair to the truth. Holding those in power accountable is at the core of our function and responsibility. We need to hear our leader’s views, their policies and reasoning. It’s really important, but we have to stand ready to push back and call-out falsehoods.”
Okay, let’s engage. Traditional journalism ethics have not required that every whacko gets to tell his story. Often they would show up at the our newspaper’s reception desk, and some reporter was assigned to go out to the “nut locker” to listen. Sometimes the “nut” was on to something, some real news. So, we listened.
But the president never showed up in the locker. It would have been unthinkable to shut down his voice, no matter how much we disagreed with him. Unlike those social media moguls.
To be clear: what we’re talking about here are different views of public policy issues. Some policies are good, some not so much. Some work, others don’t. We aren’t talking about truth in the philosophical sense, as in there is objective truth. Instead the subject is the debatable stuff, such as immigration, economic, pandemic and other policies.
Maybe God knows the “truth” of what public policy is best, but he’s not sharing it with reporters, anchors, editorial writers, op-ed columnists or commentators. Even though they sometimes think they’re acting like a god who knows the “truth.”
By the way, Holt is right when he says, “We need to hear our leader’s views, their policies and reasoning.” How odd that the media failed to adhere to that principle with President Joe Biden. His campaign was cloaked in darkness and his policies…well, can anyone persuasively say that Biden, the “moderate candidate” really believes all that far-left baloney that he says, or is he (over) scripted? What’s the truth?
In an effort to be objective, fair, etc., I’m linking to a Snopes factcheck, “Did Lester Holt ‘Urge Journalists to Ditch Objectivity’?’ It declared the headline, “Holt’s remarks about the dangers of misinformation on the internet were misconstrued in a misleading headline … on the internet” to be “misleading.”
I’m not sure that Snopes’ conclusion is my “truth.” Maybe I should delete the link.
UPDATE: This is rich. Poynter considers itself the self-appointed ethical and professional leader, I anxiously turned to its posting, “Holt’s Remarks” to see if it had the courage to step away from the gospel according to woke and take exception to his redefining journalism.
Silly me. The post was buried under, I guess, a more important on that proclaimed, “The bad news about COVID-19 and what the media can do about it: Perhaps were closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning, but the media needs (sic) to mind its (sic) audiences that the end is not here.”
Here’s the rich part: Unless I missed it elsewhere, the post, “Holt’s Remarks,” completely ignored the anchor’s redefinition of professional journalism. Instead it quote at some length Holt’s taking an opportunity to take a swipe at “the past four years,” (Read: Donald Trump). He said:
Imagine, if you would, what the pandemic would look like without the media holding leaders to account for vaccine rollouts or countering harmful misinformation or why some communities are being left behind. Regard for truth must regain a foothold in our society so that we can weather the storms of tomorrow’s calamities, tomorrow’s pandemics.
Now the question becomes: Will the media hold the current administration responsible for “harmful misinformation.”