Accuracy in Media

David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter and current senior editor at the Atlantic, said Sunday that people should trust the media because they made mistakes.

Frum appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources, when he told Brian Stelter:

“The mistakes are precisely the reason people should trust the media. Astronomers make mistakes all the time because science is a process of discovery of truth. Astrologers never make mistakes or at least they never own up to them because what they are offering is a closed system of ideology and propaganda,” Frum told Stelter.

Scientists usually spend a great deal of time seeking the truth on their subjects and only publish after peer review — something that does not take place in journalism as a whole.

Frum, who urged conservatives to vote for Clinton like he did, went on to attack the president and his supporters.

“Faced with wrongdoing circled by lies, the process of piercing the lies to uncover the truth about the wrongdoing is inherently not only difficult but adversarial because the people that are trying to find the truth are operating against bad faith actors engaged in concealment.

“They get partial pieces of the truth. In the process, there are going to be overshoots and undershoots … But it’s the process of bringing truth to light.”

“Meanwhile, from the president and his supporters, you hear a system of lies. So they’re not well placed to complain because the mistakes occur in the process of exposing the lies, that the liars then complain about the mistakes that are investigating them.”

Stelter then asked for clarification.

“You’re saying that journalists are held to high standard appropriately, but that the president and his allies are having a low standard?” he asked.

“No, I’m saying something a little different,” Frum said. “Look, journalism is a process. The way you discover the truth as a consumer of news is not by reading any one story and thinking ‘aha, here’s the truth.’ You have to be engaged and be an active consumer.

“Because this is unlike law enforcement, which investigates and produces conclusions at the end, journalists show their work as they go. They approximate the truth. They reach it. And in this case they reach it not just because the truth is inherently difficult, but because they are confronting bad faith actors engaged actively in concealment designed to deprive from the public of important knowledge.”

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