As a conservative, I cannot agree more with Lara Logan, the former CBS News foreign correspondent who recently confirmed what so many of us have been saying for decades, which is that the mainstream media in our country has an overwhelming liberal bias that excludes and dehumanizes millions of Americans. Many of her colleagues do not understand that a major reason why President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE won in 2016 is that many people were fed up with the liberal bias so widely prevalent in the mainstream media.
“Visually, anyone who has ever been to Israel and been to the Wailing Wall has seen that the women have this tiny little spot in front of the wall to pray, and the rest of the wall is for the men,” Logan said in an interview with retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland. “To me, that is a great representation of the American media, in that in this tiny little corner where the women pray, you have Breitbart and Fox News and a few others, and from there on, you have CBS, ABC, NBC, HuffPost, Politico, whatever, right? All of them. That is a problem for me, because even if it were reversed, if it was vastly mostly on the right, that would also be a problem for me,” she said.
I applaud Logan for her refreshing honesty and wish her resolve as she faces backlash. She admitted, “This interview is professional suicide for me.” There is no denying that we have many courageous truth telling journalists who want to serve the public, and our hats are off to them as they inform and inspire us. But we also know that there are high levels of bias against President Trump, and many mainstream journalists do not provide balanced and accurate information regarding his administration.
This is reflected in the low levels of trust that the American people have in the media. Her comments are clearly seen in findings from Pew Research Center that 73 percent of Republicans believe that the mainstream media does not understand their views. A recent study by the Knight Foundation found that 49 percent of high school students have little to no trust in the news. A poll by Monmouth University last year also found that 77 percent of respondents believe that traditional media outlets publish fake news.
The number is up sharply from 2017, when 63 percent of respondents said the media was responsible for fake news. Among that group, 31 percent said they believed the media spreads fake news regularly while 46 percent said the media spreads fake news occasionally. A stunning 65 percent of respondents said fake news applies to how media outlets make editorial decisions and what they choose to report, while just 25 percent said fake news applies only to when media outlets spread inaccurate information.
What explains this trust gap? Only 7 percent of journalists said they are Republicans, according to a survey by Indiana University. This is far lower than the 24 percent of American adults who identify as Republicans. Pew Research Center conducted a national survey of more than 500 reporters, editors, and executives in 2004. The results showed that 34 percent of the media identified as liberal, while only 7 percent identified as conservative.
As a former journalist in the Washington press corps, I experienced this qualitatively. Many journalists in the elite Beltway milieu have spent their entire lives in liberal bubbles and do not have personal friends who are conservative. They do not have a deep understanding of conservative thought or our governing philosophy, which in turn leads to liberal bias.
In order to unify our country and rebuild our civic fabric, we must address this lack of trust in the media that Logan identifies. Trump calls out media bias and is the strongest industry watchdog that conservatives have had in decades. This in part helps explain his sky high approval ratings among Republicans. Even if journalists dislike him, they owe it to the American people to respect and give a fuller picture of his policy approach. They need to quit playing the role of activist and stick to the role of reporter.
Carrie Sheffield (@CarrieSheffield) is national editor of Accuracy in Media.