Media not asking the tough questions

Pat Caddell:
I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not.

You know, when I first started in politics — it had been for a long time, and for many years — everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody, which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially — they were equal-opportunity people.

That changed in 1980. There’s a lot of reasons for it. It began to change in the ’80s. It changed — an important point in the Michael Dukakis election, when the press literally was trying to get Dukakis elected by ignoring what was happening in Massachusetts, with a candidate who was running on the platform of “He will do for America what he did for Massachusetts” — and they were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Also, the change from evening news emphasis to morning news by the networks is another factor that’s been pointed out to me, and, most recently, what I call the nepotism that exists, where people get jobs — they’re married to people who are in the administration, or in politics, whatever.

But the overwhelming bias has become very real and very dangerous. We have a First Amendment for one reason. We have a First Amendment not because the Founding Fathers liked the press — they hated the press — but they believed, as Thomas Jefferson said, that in order to have a free country, in order to be a free people, we needed a free press.

There was an implicit bargain in the First Amendment . . . that, somehow, the press would protect the people from the government and the power by telling — somehow allowing — people to have the truth.

That is being abrogated as we speak, and has been for some time.

Gallup released their latest poll on how much you trust when it comes to reporting the news accurately, fairly, and fully, and it’s the highest in history. For the first time, 60% of the people said they had “Not very much” or “None at all.” Of course there was a partisan break: There were 40% who believed it did, Democrats, 58% believed that it was fair and accurate, Republicans were 26%, Independents were 31%.

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He gives several examples large and small, but he believes we crossed a line in the Libyan cover  up and eh response of the media.  Caddell is a former Democrat pollster who worked for Jimmy carter, but he is a man of integrity and thinks the media should also act with integrity.

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