On Sunday's episode of Meet the Press, as he introduced a discussion about the establishment media's reputation at the end of 2017, it seemed that host Chuck Todd did not expect two of his panelists to try to pretend that the press's execrable year was actually one during which its reputation went "way up."
But that's what Hal Boedeker, the Orlando Sentinel's "TV Guy," believes (or claimed to believe), as did NBC's own Claire Atkinson, who cited online subscription growth as her "evidence." To anyone in touch with the real world, their statements constitute the comedy gold of cluelessness.
Viewers of the opening portion of the segment seen below will see that Todd seemed almost afraid of what he was about to hear as he opened the discussion. He stacked the deck with "mainstream media" people and booked no conservatives, so why panic?
Instead of acknowledging establishment press journalism's very bad year, Boedeker and Atkinson came back with supposedly reassuring responses reflecting ocean-deep denial:
Transcript (bolds are mine throughout this post):
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: All right, let’s start with a simple question. We were here last year. There was a lot of optimism here that the media’s reputation would improve. (Takes a breath) Okay. I’m going to start with the most outsider of everybody at this group. Hal, has the media’s reputation improved as far as the people in Orlando are concerned?
HAL BOEDEKER, ORLANDO SENTINEL: Well, I think most people in Orlando would probably say "no," but you’re just repeating certain things. If you say the Washington Post or the New York Times, I don’t think most people in Orlando read those newspapers, so you’re regurgitating what somebody else thinks. As somebody who observes these things, I think the reputation of the press has gone way up.
CLAIRE ATKINSON, NBC NEWS: Three major newspapers now can say they’ve got a million-plus paid subscribers. That is historic, and the fact that people are deciding, you know, we’ll pay ten bucks a month on Netflix, but actually we're going to pay ten bucks a month for Washington Post or the New York Times is a positive thing.
Starting with Boedeker's bloviating:
- Here's hoping his Orlando audience will recognize just how much contempt Hal has for them, and react accordingly. In Hal's view, they can't think for themselves, and are "just repeating certain things."
- Hal surely realizes that Orlando residents, like everyone else, have this thing called the internet they can use to either read articles at the Post or Times, or to read comments others are making about articles at the Post or Times. Many are surely aware of the flurry of fake-news items each paper has published since Donald Trump's election, and thus have a basis for saying "no" that goes well beyond "just repeating certain things."
- Having provided no support besides his own observations, he thinks the press's reputation "has gone way up." In your dreams, Hal.
As to Atkinson:
- Achieving a million online subscriptions is hardly an "historic" accomplishment. Six major newspapers had a million daily or Sunday paid print subscribers almost 14 years ago, when the nation's population was 10 percent lower (if Atkinson wants to claim that USA Today really isn't a "major newspaper," it's still five):
- The paid online subscription figures for the Post and perhaps even the Times include many thousands of people who have decided to spend as little as $19 for 12 months, or about $1.60 per month — not $10.
Both Boedeker and Atkinson failed to note that the establishment press's gatekeepers at the Associated Press and the New York Times, other major newspapers like the Post, and every major broadcast and cable news network except Fox have staked their reputations and credibility on the Donald Trump-Russia collusion narrative. They're surely beginning to notice that the narrative is showing so many signs of falling apart that even a Huffington Post liberal, in a column at NBC News's mostly mindless "Think" project, has conceded that "there's a not a chance" that Trump will charged with collusion (though author Jessica Levinson is keeping hope alive for "other charges").
Here's a five-minute primer from former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson which should be required viewing for Hal Boedeker, Clair Atkinson, and the rest of the in-denial establishment press:
In the first 35 seconds of the presentation, Attkisson identifies the fundamental problem:
Trust in the media is at an all-time low, and for good reason.
We in the business of journalism have exempted ourselves from the normal rules that used to govern us.
And so the most egregious kind of reporting errors are becoming more common. Formerly well-respected news organizations and experienced national reporters are making the sorts of mistakes that wouldn't be tolerated in journalism school.
When these mistakes are corrected at all, it's with seemingly little regret. And the corrections never get anywhere near as much attention as the original salacious but incorrect narrative.
It's that sort of arrogance inherent in their reactions to their mistakes — all too often they aren't "corrected," they're "clarified," when they should simply be retracted — which is arguably the biggest turn-off about the establishment press's conduct, especially during the past year. This attitude makes many readers and viewers wonder if anything they are seeing or hearing from these outlets is true — or if it's false, and the reports' purveyors just haven't been caught fudging things yet.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.