By Tim Graham ~
The Washington Post expressed its unhappiness with democratizing the press briefings on Sunday with an op-ed by former ABC News star Ted Koppel – to liberals a symbol of “mainstream” media objectivity, and to conservatives a poster boy for liberal media arrogance and denial.
Under the preachy headline “Democracy depends on the facts,” Koppel (pictured) began with an anecdote from the Nixon years when Roger Ailes stacked the audience of a town-hall event with amateur questioners and a friendly audience. What’s silly about that is ignoring how much the Clintons and the Obamas have employed the same tactic – often with a liberal network airing it across the country.
Koppel argued making a “more commodious media space” in the White House is a conspiracy of the Trump administration and “the relevance and clout of the mainstream media would be even further diminished.” He likened the Skype seats to those amateur questioners in Flyover Country, without ever quoting a question to provide evidence. Outside the East Coast elite = unskilled media labor.
Koppel complained that Spicer “dispensed with the tradition of calling first on the senior wire service reporter,” starting briefings with the New York Post, and Fox News, and LifeZette. “How Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson would have envied the tools available to Team Trump,” Koppel oozed.
This completely ignores that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama knew their White House questioners would be much kinder, like Jeff Zeleny asking Obama what “enchanted” him about being in the White House. Koppel doesn’t like broadening the press corps, and he knows what that sounds like (text in bold – minus the “dangerously” — was in a larger text box in the newspaper):
It sounds dangerously undemocratic to argue against broadening the scope of the White House press corps. But we are already knee-deep in an environment that permits, indeed encourages, the viral distribution of pure nonsense. It does not help that so many in the media establishment have allowed themselves to be goaded into an uninterrupted torrent of quivering outrage. Roughly half the country already questions the motives, intentions and goodwill of the other half. We are increasingly inclined to consume only the product of those news outlets that resonate with our own biases. Whatever is put forward by one side is instinctively rejected by the other.
The only appropriate response is an even greater emphasis on professional standards; factual reporting, multiple sourcing and careful editing. Our system of government depends on nothing so much as the widespread availability of credible, reliable reporting of important events. Rarely in the nation’s history has there been a greater need for objective journalism that voters and legislators alike can use to form judgments and make decisions.
The problem here is that Koppel obviously believes that the “mainstream” media are the keepers of “objective journalism,” “real news,” and “facts.” By contrast, these less prestigious newcomers are associated with partisanship, fake news, and “pure nonsense.” He continued:
The process is routinely undermined, these days, by nothing more than the casual attachment of a “fake news” label, or Kellyanne Conway’s more recent suggestion that we live in an era of “alternative facts.” There may be temporary political advantage to be gained by tearing down public confidence in critical, nonpartisan journalism, but it is only temporary. At some point or another, everyone needs professional finders of facts.
Again, itseems obvious that Koppel thinks it’s conservatives who are tearing down “nonpartisan journalism” and “professional finders of facts.”
if Koppel could find any real-world examples of false news, he could start with The Washington Post fumbling on “the Russians hack the power grid in Vermont” and “Trump hung up on the Australian prime minister.” More seasoned media critics would recall Koppel’s trumped-up fake news on Reagan’s “October Surprise,” or Koppel’s bizarre “secret blueprint for U.S. global domination” musings in 2003.