Bernstein: Modern Reporting Is 'Atrocious,' 'Abdication of Responsibility'

Host Brian Stelter raised a very important question on Sunday’s Reliable Sources, “Is media to blame for political polarization?” The popular opinion on the panel was yes, the media does deserve blame for the “hyper-partisan” nature of modern politics. But Journalist Carl Bernstein went farther with a scathing condemnation of how reporting is conducted by the media today. “It's been an abdication of responsibility,” he exclaimed, showing his disgust with modern journalism.

Bernstein was upset about how the modern media refuses to delve deep into the lives of candidates’ and their dealings:

We have not delved deeply into their lives, the arc of their lives, the arc of their business dealings, their foundation dealings, et cetera, et cetera. We're operating in a daily news cycle vacuum 24/7, without context. It's been an abdication of responsibility.

One of Bernstein’s biggest knock against the reporting done this election cycle is the complete lack of documentaries about the histories of the candidates. “We've had no documentaries about any of the candidates. And the election primaries are over,” he argued, “There had been a Hillary documentary that was going to be done, and the Hillary people were able to shut it down with the producers of the documentary because they didn't want it done.”

What we're seeing here is the worst reporting, I think, of a political campaign of the past 50 years. While meanwhile, especially in television, we have the best analysis and debate. But in terms of real original reporting about these candidates, it's been atrocious.

The Daily Beast’s John Avlon had his own serious disdain for how partisan reporting has become in America. “[Hyper partisan reporting has] contributed to distrust in institutions, distrust in media, and further enflamed the divisions,” he stated, “Americans are no longer assuming good will on part of the folks they disagree with.

Partial transcript below:

CNN
Reliable Sources
May 22, 2016
11:02:44 AM Eastern

JOHN AVLON: The media has a lot to blame for the current atmosphere of polarization and hyper-partisanship. This has been going on for decades, though. It’s bigger that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is just the apotheosis of the ugly.

BRIAN STELTER: So it's just getting worse and worse and worse.

AVLON: Absolutely. No. Look, we've had demagogues run for office before. We haven't had them necessarily capture a major party nomination. But what's different in this atmosphere of hyper-partisanship is the rise of partisan media over a long period of time, that's contributed to distrust in institutions, distrust in media, and further enflamed the divisions. Americans are no longer assuming good will on part of the folks they disagree with. Media, and partisan media in particular, has a lot to answer for in this.

JANE HALL: Well, I think several things are going on. I agree, Fox News has been after Hillary Clinton, and you know, the latest will be that she's going to take away your guns, which is what Trump said. There has been a very negative, very polarized atmosphere in Congress as well as in the media. And hand in hand they've created, I think, an atmosphere of polarization. Trump is going after Hillary. And Hillary, you know, the media, I think, have fatigue about Hillary Clinton. I think there is asking— Polling continuously about whether she's trustworthy, I think, has probably added to the feeling that she's untrustworthy. That's almost like push polling.

STELTER: Interesting. Carl, let me ask you about the historical perspective on all of this. Do you think things are at a sort of -- I would say right now a valley, a new low in terms of people's confidence in politicians, and that's what we're seeing in these negative rankings for these candidates?

CARL BERNSTEIN: It's much deeper than that, and it has to do with the two individuals particularly and their lives and their actions. More importantly, what we're seeing here is the worst reporting, I think, of a political campaign of the past 50 years. While meanwhile, especially in television, we have the best analysis and debate. But in terms of real original reporting about these candidates, it's been atrocious. Particularly in the three networks and on cable television because it's been virtually nonexistent in terms of going deep. We've had no documentaries about any of the candidates. And the election primaries are over.

Tell the Truth 2016

STELTER: But don't the negatives, for each of these candidates, show that people are well informed about them and that's why they don't like Trump and like Clinton?

BERNSTEIN: No, I don’t. Look, we've had polarization in our politics going on 35 years now. What we now have had two candidates who are hugely well known, plus Bernie Sanders who's not that well known. And at the same time, on television, we have not delved deeply into their lives, the arc of their lives, the arc of their business dealings, their foundation dealings, et cetera, et cetera. We're operating in a daily news cycle vacuum 24/7, without context. It's been an abdication of responsibility. There had been a Hillary documentary that was going to be done, and the Hillary people were able to shut it down with the producers of the documentary because they didn't want it done. We need to create our own agenda and do the reporting.

Tell the Truth 2016 NB Daily 2016 Presidential CNN Reliable Sources Video John Avlon Carl Bernstein Brian Stelter Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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