Accuracy in Media

NBC promoted a special edition of Meet the Press discussing “Disinformation in the age of Trump,” but omitted important and relevant information on the sources of disinformation. As the title showed, the cable news network blamed Trump for pushing false and misleading information, but the network lacked the honesty and integrity to point out the mainstream media’s multiple mistakes in the Trump presidency.

NBC interviewed two mainstream media members, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron. The discussion focused on the media’s “challenges in presenting accurate information” in the Trump presidency. Baquet claimed that journalism should “very aggressively sort out fact from fiction and to very aggressively work to make sure that people trust us and understand that that’s our job.”

Baron pointed to social media and the internet for being the sources of “crazy conspiracy theories and absolute falsehoods and lies.” He added that most Trump supporters, who reside in the Midwest region of the country, “feel that the so-called elites in Washington have not paid attention to them.” However, Baron omitted that this distrust between Midwestern Americans and the media has contributed to the American public’s lack of trust in the mainstream media.

The special edition also focused on one specific “fake news” controversy: President Trump’s claims about CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd called Trump’s claim a lie, though it was true that the cybersecurity firm was hired by the DNC for cybersecurity purposes.

Although Trump is known for making unsupported claims, NBC ignored other disinformation and “fake news” examples from the mainstream media. Some examples of the media’s past mistakes are:

  • The hype surrounding the dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele, which was later found to be full of inconsistencies and lacking accurate and factual information,
  • Attempting to discredit economic gains under the Trump presidency,
  • Favorable treatment of Democratic witnesses during the impeachment hearings in Congress,
  • Misleading readers on immigration detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border,
  • Retracting a claim that Trump contradicted an ambassador’s testimony surrounding the Ukraine phone-call controversy.

Instead of solely blaming Trump for disinformation, NBC’s special edition should have acknowledged the media’s multiple failings and shortcomings when it comes to accurate news reporting, free of political slant and opinion.

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