Can We Trust Mainstream Media?
Public trust in America’s major news media outlets is cratering. Gallup’s most recent polling found just 16% of adults in the country with a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers, and the approval rate for television news dipped to 11%.
The wounds are almost fully self-inflicted, says Ari Fleischer, who makes a case affirmed by many on the political right in his book Suppression, Deception, Snobbery, and Bias: Why the Press Gets So Much Wrong – and Just Doesn't Care. The former presidential press secretary points to a lack of cultural and political diversity in newsrooms and abundant liberal bias in their coverage. Journalists and their defenders, in turn, acknowledge some challenges and lapses but argue that the profession remains in touch with its noble tradition of reporting the truth.
In a discussion revolving around his book, Fleischer identifies the offenses and offenders he sees in today’s media and the erosion of trust he says they’ve engendered. He’s then joined by David Von Drehle, a Kansas City-based columnist for one of Fleisher’s primary targets, The Washington Post, for a both-sides conversation and expansive audience question-and-answer session.
Fleischer served as White House press secretary under President George W. Bush from January 2001 to July 2003, witnessing and participating in such historic events as the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the starts of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He now heads Fleischer Communications, working with corporations and sports organizations, and is a prominent Fox News contributor. His first book, the bestselling Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House, detailed his experiences in the Bush administration.
Von Drehle has written about national affairs and politics for The Washington Post since returning to the newspaper as a columnist in 2017. He spent the previous decade with Time magazine, authoring more than 60 cover stories as editor-at-large, and was a writer and editor at The Post before that. He’s the author of a number of books, including the award-winning bestseller Triangle: The Fire That Changed America.