Trust in Media is Gone: Fair and Balanced is Gone

Trust in Media is Gone:  Fair and Balanced is Gone

Americans are losing confidence in newspapers and television news.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, there has been a somewhat steady decline for the past twenty years – one that has been particularly dramatic with respect to television news.    Only 25 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in these traditional news sources, thus putting them on par with “banks” when it comes to public trust.

This is certainly unfortunate, but not at all surprising.    In fact, in light of yesterday’s revelation that Fox News’ parent company gave an unprecedented $1 million check to the Republican Governors Association, the only thing that would be surprising is if that level of confidence does not dip even further. 

Objectivity has long been a hallmark of American journalism.  It is not always a given.  It is not always evident.  Yet, a premium on impartial, balanced reporting has long been a defining characteristic and a standard by which news coverage has been measured.   

Yesterday’s blatantly partisan “gift” from Fox News, however, has lowered that standard and with it, the quality of American journalism.

Granted, Fox’s media bias is not new.  The case against Fox News is deep and dates back many years.  From its 1996 founding under the leadership of longtime Republican operative Roger Ailes to its bevy of well-known conservative reporters to its undeniably slanted reporting, Fox News has long been suspected of being “a wing of the Republican Party”. 

But now we have the proof… it’s now official … Fox can stop masquerading as a legitimate news source and can finally stop pretending that it’s “Fair and Balanced.” 

Further, this latest transgression crosses a line.  It sets a terrible precedent, and it sets us on a potentially dangerous course.   In the swipe of its pen, Fox News has literally torn down the firewall that had existed between politics and journalism – a firewall that had long placed a necessary and credible check on government power … a firewall that had been critical to maintaining the trust of the American people.

Michael W. Kempner is the President/CEO of MWW Group ( www.mww.com ), a Top Ten National Public Relations Firm based in East Rutherford and an Operating Advisor for Pegasus Capital Advisors.

Trust in Media is Gone:  Fair and Balanced is Gone