CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter delivered an opinion on why conservatives in America don’t have their own New York Times-like institutions doing original reporting.
“Everyone trusts some sources, but they distrust other sources. They see that stuff as misinformation. So, thus, everyone thinks there’s a big misinformation problem because they don’t believe the other version,” he said.
“Why aren’t there massive American newsrooms dedicated to journalism from a conservative point of view, a reality-based conservative point of view?”
“Why isn’t there a New York Times of the right? Why doesn’t that exist? Is it because the audience doesn’t want that? Or is it because the audience isn’t being given a chance to support it?” he asked.
So, let me propose to a different way to think about trusted media. Reporters versus repeaters. This brand new research by Gallup says American trust in the mass media is at its lowest point since 2016, and near a record-low overall.
To think about it, almost everyone trusts some form of media, everyone trusts something. It’s just that many people trust CNN and many others trust Fox, even though we’re not really two sides of the same coin.
So, it’s obvious that when pollsters ask about the media as a whole, the results are abysmal, and that is a large part due to Republican sentiment. Do you see on your screen here? So, you see these lines diverge over time, the blue line much, much higher than the red line.
Republican trust in mass media is at rock bottom lows, and yet, Fox’s ratings are high and Fox stars are beloved, so there is trust there. But that chiasm, that Canyon between Democrats and Republicans is critical to understand.
Democrats say they generally trust mainline news sources, Republicans say they do not. The space between them is Grand Canyon-sized.
And as Matt Gertz of the Liberal Media Matters noted, the thing about that partisan skew is that it means that negative press coverage is much more damaging to Democrats whose voters will believe it, and less damaging to Republicans whose voters generally won’t believe it. It’s an interesting point. But the even bigger point, I think, is about what the press is.
What’s the nutritional value of the content? Is it produced by reporters or by repeaters? So, at the risk of repeating myself a little bit, OK, repeaters are the talk radio shouters who tell listeners to hate the other side. They’re on TV and radio telling the same story every day.
Repeaters are outlets like One America News which replays Donald Trump’s lies on a loop and runs random news packages made by other companies. Repeaters are all over Facebook in hyper-partisan private groups that cherry-pick stories and conversational memes and make you really rageful. Repeaters are Twitter trolls who anonymously amplify propaganda and try to wear the rest of us down with their repetition.
And so much of what they are repeating, so much of the raw material for radio yakkers, and Facebook posters, and all the rest is from reporters, from the people paid to figure out what is true, not what they might want to be true, but what is true.
And here’s the important part, OK? There are easy ways to tell the difference between the two, between reporters and repeaters. CNN for example, has news bureaus all around the world, all over the place, all the red dots. That’s a lot of reporting power.
Fox, just to show the contrast, has very few bureaus by comparison. They only have reporters in a couple of international locations. So, Fox does a lot less reporting, and a lot more repeating. But this isn’t about ideology or anything, it’s about a type of content, Fox and Friends got it all wrong today.
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS AND FRIENDS: Did you wish you had a dime for every time somebody said to you, what would happen to America if we didn’t have vaccines? I mean, we’d have no alternative information at all. I mean, just think about that.
STELTER: It’s not about alternative information. It’s about whether media outlets are spending the money to staff the bureaus and send out troops and sort out fact from fiction. It’s about repeating versus reporting. Fox and Friends does almost nothing but repeat.
So, pollster is posing broad questions about the media, doesn’t really tell us a lot. The same is true with misinformation. This is a new poll from AP in New York showing 81 percent of Americans say misinformation is a major problem. But I suspect that’s because everyone distrusts some form of media.
It’s the converse to what I said earlier. Everyone trusts some sources, but they distrust other sources. They see that stuff as misinformation. So, thus, everyone thinks there’s a big misinformation problem because they don’t believe the other version.
If there’s a solution to this, and I don’t know if there is because we live in one American two media worlds, but if there is a solution, it’s through reporting. It’s through reporting not repeating, it’s through doing the work and showing the work and showing how it happens every day.
And it’s also through asking some hard questions about why is it the right-wing media outlets do so little reporting? Why do they employ so few reporters, and so many commentators and columnists, and opinion writers?
Why aren’t their massive American newsrooms dedicated to journalism from a conservative point of view, a reality-based conservative point of view?
Why isn’t there a New York Times of the right? Why doesn’t that exist? Is it because the audience doesn’t want that? Or is it because the audience isn’t beginning of a chance — doesn’t being given a chance to support it?
Why is it that so much of the noise and nonsense that comes out of pro-Trump outlets is repetition — is repeating, not reporting? Those are complicated questions, but they need to be asked.
In the meantime, all of us need to see the difference between reporting and repeating because reporting adds value, and repeating often subtracts value.
Now, I don’t want to repeat myself anymore so let’s move on to the next block. We have an important guest coming up talking about the storm clouds that clearly threaten American democracy. What can the news media do to stem democratic decline? We’re going to talk with the head of Freedom House in just a moment.