By Kyle Drennen ~
In its latest cover story, Variety conducted a rare joint interview with all three network evening news anchors, Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News, David Muir of ABC’s World News Tonight, and Scott Pelley of CBS Evening News. Writer Brian Steinberg fawned over the trio of liberal media fixtures: “At a time when President Trump rails against the ‘dishonest’ media, and ‘fake news’ labels make consumers wary of the facts that do come their way, the venerable evening newscasts stand apart.”
He gushed over the newscasts being “Dressed in the tradition and trust of their decades on the air, the network anchors’ broadcasts have an imprimatur of authority — unlike the barrage of tweets and links that get circulated throughout the day” and related how their respective hosts “believe they can all be that voice of reason that many in America think is sorely needed right now.”
The assertion that the network news would somehow be a bulwark against “fake news” was belied Monday night, when all three broadcasts seized on unconfirmed social media speculation that Trump discussed classified national security information with the Japanese Prime Minister at a restaurant in public.
The article began by quoting an outlandish biased comment that Pelley used to open a recent edition of his CBS program: “It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality.” Steinberg observed: “That sentence wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary on a random Twitter feed or from the mouth of one of the nation’s late-night comics pointing out the chaos generated by the whirling dervish that is the White House in 2017. But because those were the words chosen by “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley to open his newscast last week, they made headlines.”
He then touted Pelley’s defense of the opinionated declaration:
Pelley rejects the notion that he was overly aggressive. “No, I don’t think we were being too hard at all, it was just empirically true,” he tells Variety. “The president had said a number of things that day that were false. I think it’s incumbent upon us — all of us — to help our audience sort out fact from fiction. We haven’t had a White House or a president like this before, and we’re all still trying to figure out how to cover it every day.”
Steinberg noted: “Pelley’s salvo comes as those in the TV news business see the supercharged news cycle as an opportunity to renew the relevance of the three network anchors, stalwarts of a tradition that no longer generates the viewership it did in the days of Walter Cronkite or even Tom Brokaw.” He then fretted: “And those who do tune in may be looking for an ever more partisan spin — witness the rise of Fox News Channel.”
Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center’s Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters.