Ted Koppel again became the media’s darling over the weekend after reemerging in the limelight for the first time in 20 years for a pointed interview with Sean Hannity. Koppel’s statement that Hannity is “bad for America” was met with rapturous approval from haute thinkers, who seized on the opportunity to slam Hannity.
The New York Daily News sniped that the Hannity “holds a feeble grasp on how real television journalism works.” The New York Times gloated that he was still upset by Koppel’s attack. Social media lit up with smug attacks.
Apparently, Koppel and the establishment media don’t understand the difference between news and opinion.
Hannity has always been a pundit — not a news reporter. He has a bias, and he wears that bias on his sleeve. Hannity, like his cohorts Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson, openly offer opinion for the audience rather than hide a narrative in a story.
It’s not Hannity that’s “bad for America” — it’s journalism that presents itself as “hard news,” but injects itself with subtle bias.
Outlets can insidiously shape narratives, while still appearing like “real television journalism,” based on what stories they choose to cover and which guests are included on panels. One major example of selective coverage was when, back in October, ABC, CBS, and NBC spent over four hours reporting on accusations against Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE for sexual harassment, but gave only 36 minutes of coverage to the fresh revelations from Wikileaks regarding Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonA year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness Second gentleman Emhoff acts as public link to White House MORE’s staff emails. This coverage pattern would lead viewers to believe that Trump’s campaign was on its last leg, but that Clinton’s scandal was no big deal.
Viewers have started to pick up on the bias. In a recent poll, Gallup found that Americans’ trust in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly” reached its lowest level in polling history. Only 32 percent said they have a fair amount of trust in the media.
Enter Fox News. Fox is currently the most trusted outlet in national news because its traditional programming offers straight, non-bias reporting. “Special Report” with Bret Baier is an example of an old-fashioned rundown of the day’s news, complete with hard-hitting panel discussions. Other journalists like Shannon Bream, Shepard Smith, and Jenna Lee also offer an unvarnished version of the truth. Watch one of their segments, then see if you can figure out who they voted for.
Yet everything Fox News does is under a microscope because of their openly-conservative pundits, who never claimed to be hard news reporters. Meanwhile ABC, CBS, and CNN are free to shoehorn left-leaning messages into each hour. Perhaps what makes liberal journalists (but I repeat myself) so jealous is that Fox News brings in the most viewers and advertising dollars — by far.
Whether the establishment media likes it or not, Trump broke the traditional stronghold on public consciousness. For years the establishment media held strict control over what we are to consider “the truth.”
Take Dan Rather’s fake document scandal smearing President Bush in 2004. He’s being lionized by the media and Hollywood for the “Truth.” Establishment media declared that Richard Nixon had a “secret plan” for ending the War in Vietnam. Who can forget the fawning coverage of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNew year brings more liberated Joe Biden After the loss of three giants of conservation, Biden must pick up the mantle Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage MORE’s campaign and administration? Entertainment Weekly declared Michael Moore’s anti-Bush screed Fahrenheit 9/11 as the 67th best form of media of the 2000s.
The real danger is not in opinion, but rather that lack of integrity of calling it so.
So let Sean Hannity make his case for or against ObamaCare or other policies. Let Rachel Maddow do it too, if she does it as a pundit, not wearing a fig leaf of journalistic integrity. Her much-hyped Trump tax report was almost universally panned. For the New York Times, though, the worst thing about Maddow’s “scoop?” She made the viewers wait. Can’t be good for ratings.
Koppel’s assertion that fiery debate over political issues is hurting the United States is simply wrong. This nation has a long and rich history of such arguments being run through and run by the press. The more voices and opinions, the better! Like any monopoly, the Left’s control over the traditional media should be broken up. Let the readers, listeners, and viewers hear all the different sides and make up their own minds.
For an American public already leery of the media and bombarded by the constant news cycle, they deserve a clear distinction between what is fact and opinion. Chris Cuomo, Martha Raddatz, Lester Holt, and their friends should take some time to relearn (or maybe pick up for the first time) the Five Ws.
Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30."
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