But this, to me, isn’t about simple politics. This is about our fundamental ability to discern fact from fiction. It’s been under assault for decades — my thesis, published in 2000, warned us that we were in danger of retreating to misinformed echo chambers. (I wish that term had been in vogue at the time. It would’ve saved me some exposition.)
So please don’t interpret this piece, a roundtable with me and several other veteran journalists at Popdose, as simple Trump-bashing or left-wing fretting. We should all be concerned about attitudes toward the media.
The media need watchdogs, sure. But how did we reach the point at which we trust some obviously partisan person doing no original reporting over honest investigations requiring many people to do a lot of digging and checking?
We journalists tend not to stick up for ourselves. It’s hard to imagine another product that always prints criticisms of that product ON that product. (I’m referring to letters to the editor, and my historical research concluded that they weren’t any smarter or nicer in the 1960s.) And with rare exception, we don’t even respond. If someone calls me all sorts of nasty names — and yes, it happened even before the Internet made it easy — I’m supposed to sit back and take it.
I’m not sure we can do that any more. What we do is valuable. We can — and should — defend our work. We can’t just do the politically correct thing and listen patiently as every wingnut on the planet (and yes, this includes many on the “left” as well as the various factions fighting to be the “right” these days) takes shots at us that we can easily refute.
Call it elitist if you want. All I can tell you is that I’ve worked with hundreds of people who put their work ahead of their politics, and they make an honest effort to get at the truth. And they’ll listen to constructive feedback. If you tune them out and listen to some deranged cartoonist instead, you’re choosing unwisely.