Accuracy in Media

Carl Bernstein is pushing his industry to return to its job of gatekeeper and disseminator of all that is news from the White House.

“We need to start thinking of a different way to cover his press conferences and briefings,” said Bernstein, who rose to fame along with Bob Woodward from their coverage of Watergate and the subsequent book and movie, “All the President’s Men,” but now works as a CNN contributor.

“For instance, I don’t think we should be taking him live all the time, just pasting him up on the air because they’re basically propagandist exercises because they’re [reporters] are overwhelmed by his dishonesty and lying.”

It would be better if journalists attended the news conferences and waited until they ended to decide what was news, then just let the clips tell the story instead of airing the conferences in full, wrote Jessica Chasmar of The Washington Times in “CNN’s Carl Bernstein: ‘We need to start editing’ Trump, stop airing ‘propogandist’ briefings.”

“How could we cover them differently?” Bernstein asked himself in an interview with Brian Stelter Saturday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

“Maybe we should be there, edit, decide as reporters what is news, and after the press conference or briefing is over, then go with that story with clips rather than treating the briefing or press conference as a campaign event, which they really are and which we did in the campaign as well … we gave him all this free airtime on cable news especially.”

Bernstein said reporters “need to start treating it like a news event. And look, in cable, we have websites. We can put up the total press conference on our website so that everybody has the chance to see it … or the briefing. And we ought to and it’s a matter of record. And we can be the place of record, so everybody can see every word if they want.”

“But we need to start editing. We need to say ‘Here’s the story,’ and not just give him a microphone when we know that his methodology is to engage and manipulate us on the basis of lying, propaganda and agitprop.”

In “Carl Bernstein: Media Should Rethink Coverage Of Trump’s ‘Propogandist’ Press Conferences” – subhead: “The president’s ‘methodology is to engage and manipulate us on the basis of lying,’ Bernstein said,” HuffPost’s Hayley Miller explained why Bernstein’s words were so important.

“Trump’s press conferences and briefings frequently – and notoriously – offer a platform for the president to spew falsehoods and bombastic rhetoric, and often include turbulent exchanges between the president and reporters.”

According to the Daily Beast, the top three cable news networks – Fox, MSNBC and CNN – declined to comment. But the Daily Beast’s story quoted an anonymous TV exec who said, “The bottom line is that people like Carl Bernstein and anybody else can say anything they want about what we should or shouldn’t do.

“The silly thing is when people make declarations like, ‘we shouldn’t read his tweets or talk about his tweets.’ Let’s not focus on rules about what we should or shouldn’t do because we might disagree with his means of getting his message out there. He’s the president. If he says something, it’s worth noting.”

Asked by Lloyd Grove of the Beast to address those comments, Bernstein retreated.

“The last thing I’m suggesting is that we be dogmatic and hard-set in a bunch of rules about how we do this, without using sensible journalistic and reportorial flexibility,” Bernstein said.

“But I do think it’s necessary to take another look at how we cover especially the briefings and also some live events that the president calls – including sometimes perhaps press conferences …. There’s no reason we need to, as a matter of course, cut to free airtime right away.”

Photo by kate.gardiner

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