Tag Archive: Washington Week in Review


“This is someone (President of the United States) whose grasp of science is at the third-grade level.” – New York Times science and health “beat” reporter Donald McNeil, Jr. during his May 12 CNN interview. He also called on the CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield to resign.

“Donald McNeil went too far in expressing his personal views . His editors have discussed the issue with him to reiterate that his job is to report the facts and to not offer his own opinions.” — New York Times management rebuking McNeil

Reporters should not be part of the story, let alone be the story.

The acceleration of the decline in public esteem in elite media is not solely attributable to the Fourth Estate’s collective hatred of the president, and ensuing pack mentality that ensures that any reporter, correspondent, anchor can never be seen as being even a tiny bit sympathetic to Donald Trump.

It was the same pack mentality that unofficially declared any positive discussion of Trump’s 2016 electoral chances (exception: FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten) was strictly verboten in print, digital format and broadcast. In effect, the media became a major part of the story and may have unintentionally suppressed Hillary Clinton’s GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts, thus aiding and abetting Donald Trump’s narrow upset victory.

Almost DailyBrett noticed a disturbing trend years ago, even before Trump’s Apprentice days: Reporters interviewing reporters.

Wait. Aren’t reporters supposed to be covering news makers, the important achievers in our society? As a member of the great unwashed, your author wants to hear from Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx when it comes to virology, not Donald McNeil, Jr., who graduated summa cum laude from Cal Berkeley with an undergraduate degree in …  rhetoric.

And yet instead of a credentialed medical expert, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was interviewing McNeil about the Covid-19 outbreak and America’s response.

On what basis of fact does McNeil conclude that President Trump’s grasp of science is at the “third grade level,” “sycophant” Vice President Mike Pence should not be serving as the chair of the Corona Virus Task Force, and CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield (MD, Georgetown University, 1977) should resign.

Should we all be wearing masks even outdoors, Dr. McNeil?

It’s a rare day when Almost DailyBrett totally agrees with the editors at the New York Times, but McNeil expressed his obviously biased political views and did not even attempt for even a nanosecond to report any facts. The rebuke from the New York Times was essentially a slap on the wrist.

Your author believes that if McNeil was to appear on one of the many ubiquitous reporters interviewing reporters shows, he should stick to his coverage based upon facts learned. Now that he has called for Redfield to resign from his leadership at the Centers for Disease Control, how can McNeil cover the agency fairly?

McNeil is now jaded and exposed. He needs to be taken off the beat. He is not impartial. All of his subsequent copy is now and forever suspect. The fault is McNeil’s, and McNeil’s alone.

The next time McNeil editorializing occurs (Almost DailyBrett is taking the “over”), the blame will be directed to the management of the New York Times.

Taking A Vow Of Poverty

“It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” — CBS Anchor Walter Cronkite, Feb. 27, 1968

Your author remembers J-School back in the Stone Age (1975-1978).

We learned how to gather facts and report the news professionally, fairly and objectively with the views of both sides represented regardless of our personal expression.

As we all took a vow of poverty, our opinions were irrelevant and most of all … should not enter into our copy or scripts.

What mattered were the ex-cathedra statements and fallacies of our elected leaders. We were there to cover them … not to preach, pontificate or bloviate. Right, Jim Acosta of CNN?

And there it is, Washington Week In Review on PBS with panelists enlisted from more than 100 reporters (curiously none from cable market leader, Fox News). Each Friday night, if you didn’t have anything better to do, reporters kibbutz and provide you with their hallowed personal opinions. The “interpretation” disease is now widespread and mutating.

One commenter pointed to Almost DailyBrett’s admiration of the professionalism and demand for both sides of any story to be covered by revered former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. It was the very same Cronkite, who based upon years of coverage including on the ground in Southeast Asia declared the Vietnam War as a “stalemate.

Wasn’t Cronkite offering his opinion?

He was making a conclusion based on the on-the-ground facts immediately following the Tet Offensive, which made it clear the Communists had grabbed the upper hand in Vietnam. Declaring the Vietnam War as a “stalemate” was actually a mild description. America lost the war. The end came with helicopters on the roof of the collapsing American embassy in Saigon in 1975.

Isn’t Cronkite’s Vietnam declaration the same as McNeil’s opinion making?

Incorporating Cronkite and McNeil in the same sentence, besmirches the good name of 1972’s “Most Trusted Man In America.”

https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2020/05/12/donald-g-mcneil-jr-senate-hearing-coronavirus-sot-amanpour-vpx.cnn

https://www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/panelists

https://www.usnews.com/news/ken-walshs-washington/articles/2018-02-27/50-years-ago-walter-cronkite-changed-a-nation

It’s been all downward-to-the-right for the media since the days of Walter Cronkite.

Quick: Name the Big Three Network anchors?

Can’t do it? Join the club.

Oh have times changed.

In 1972, the revered anchor of the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite, was the most trusted man in America.

In 2017, do we trust Sean Hannity of Fox News to be “fair and balanced” with the news?

Do we trust Rachel Maddow of MSNBC to be objective?

Do we trust the latest political “comedian” on Comedy Central to be thoughtful?

Do we trust what we read on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook to be accurate?

Fair. Balanced. Objective. Thoughtful. Accurate. Those were all words that applied to Cronkite. Do they apply anymore?

As Almost DailyBrett mentioned before, the public gave the media a 72 percent approval rating in 1976 and only 32 percent in 2016.

Gallup’s surveys reflect a corresponding slide by Democrats, Independents and particularly Republicans in the past two decades.

In 1997, 64 percent of Democrats reported a great deal/fair amount of trust in the media. In 2016, that figure declined to 51 percent, a 13 percent drop.

For independents, the erosion in the last 20 years was 53 percent (just above the Mendoza Line) to 30 percent last year, a 23 percent decline.

For Republicans, 41 percent of GOP voters expressed a great deal/fair amount of trust in the media in 1997. That figure was 14 percent in 2016, a stunning 27 percent erosion in two decades.

In a match-up between CNN and Donald Trump, 89 percent of GOP voters expressed confidence in the president while only 9 percent sided with the number three cable news network.

Is there any plausible reason to optimistically hope these results will improve in the Trump era?

For CNN, it has now dropped to number three in a three-way race of major cable news outlets having been surpassed by liberal MSNBC for the number two slot behind No. 1 conservative Fox News.

Liberal? Liberal? Conservative?  What happened to honest brokers of information?

From Reporting to Interpreting?

Want to make a slow Friday night even slower? Watch “Washington Week in Review” on PBS in which reporters interview … reporters.

It used to be that reporters/correspondents covered the news. Now we are all entitled to their “interpretation.”

Remember what Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” said about opinions? Every reporter, editor, correspondent has one and you are privileged to hear what they have to say. Instead of covering the news makers, they see themselves as the real news.

Except … this Donald Trump character seems to get in the way, particularly with his nocturnal tweets.

Should university journalism schools abandon teaching the quaint notion of objectively informing the public that desperately wants straight news?

How about simply declaring the stakes are too high to be truly objective, and encourage future reporters/correspondents to openly display their partisan instincts and guide the public in affirming their own deeply held political philosophies?

And then journalists can write and broadcast about the deeply divided nation they helped foster.

Should journalism schools endeavor to generate more of the likes of Dan Rather and Brian Williams? Almost DailyBrett doesn’t need to regurgitate how the two elite former champions of CBS and NBC respectively brought lasting shame to the media.

What strategies should schools of journalism and communication adopt to restore professionalism to the profession? Surely the task is worthy, particularly bringing objectivity back into to the classroom discussion.

Is it time to inform the public once again?

Will we know that journalism has recovered when the next Walter Cronkite becomes the most trusted man/woman in America?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/07/13/daily-202-trump-is-the-disrupter-in-chief-in-an-age-of-disruption/5966a386e9b69b7071abcb23/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

https://www.wsj.com/articles/amid-turmoil-fox-news-holds-on-to-no-1-spot-as-msnbc-surges-1499601601

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31152849

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/anchors-bring-new-era-network-stability-article-1.1922051

http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/

 

 

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