Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2018

Opinion: Journalism holds power accountable

January 18, 2018


I was wrong.

Years ago, people used to ask me what journalists should do to combat the nation’s drift toward “factish” and “truthy” logic. What was needed, I’d reply with misplaced confidence, is robust fact-checking. If news media were more aggressive in calling people out for lying, I predicted, they’d be less likely to do so with impunity.

Well, in the years since I prescribed that remedy, Snopes and PolitiFact have come of age, and newspapers and TV news outlets have beefed up their fact-checking operations. Indeed, fact-checking has become a minor industry.

And it hasn’t helped.

To the contrary, politicians and partisans are more likely than ever to cry “Fake news!” whenever truth hurts their feelings or facts puncture their fantasies. And if fact-checking has become a minor industry, so has conspiracy theorizing, as bizarre fantasies about pizza parlor child molestation rings, “hoax” shootings and the so-called “deep state” infest our political discourse, making some people famous and others stupid.

So when a journalist asked that same question last week, I demurred. All we can do, I said, is our jobs.

That being the case, Steven Spielberg’s latest movie arrives not a minute too soon, providing as it does a timely reminder of just what that job entails. “The Post,” which went into wide release Friday, is a tour de force about the 1971 standoff between The Washington Post and the federal government over publication of The Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents proving the government lied as it led the nation deeper into the fatal quagmire of Vietnam.

The decision by Post publisher and neophyte businesswoman Katharine Graham to put her newspaper and, conceivably, her freedom, at risk by going up against the Nixon White House is rightly regarded as a feminist coming of age. But it is also a journalistic watershed. In battling Nixon all the way to the Supreme Court with everything at stake, the Post embodied the sheer guts it sometimes takes simply to report the truth.

Of course, 1971 was a long time ago, a point Spielberg makes by lingering lovingly on typewriters, rotary dials, linotype machines and other artifacts of the pre-digital newsroom. We see people gazing enraptured at their newspapers the way they do their smartphones today.

It is a not-subtle reminder that things were different then. Yet, the movie also offers a rousing, timely reminder that for all that’s changed, one thing cannot: journalism’s mission must always be to hold power accountable.

So yes, all we can do is our jobs.

Frankly, I was initially dissatisfied with that answer. I was disappointed I wasn’t able to offer some innovative strategy to turn back the tide of factishness and truthiness. Then it occurred to me: That’s not journalism’s responsibility.

No, our responsibility is to provide information, not to enforce the proper use thereof. I’m reminded of the old adage about leading horses to water. I’m also reminded of the motto of the Scripps company, which started life as a newspaper publisher: “Give light, and the people will find their own way.”

We in journalism have, I submit, fulfilled our part of that bargain, doggedly if imperfectly. The question that will define the future is whether “the people” will fulfill theirs or whether they will choose to believe, as too many too often do, that partisan resentments justify factual apostasy. That’s something they must decide. It’s not journalists’ call to make.

In 2018, as it was in 1971, our job is to find the courage to report the truth.

It’s up to the people to find the courage to hear it.

— Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald.


Gary Stussie 3 months ago

"We in journalism have ...

What audacity. This race hustler calls himself a journalist and points out his noble obligation to "hold power accountable". The MSM, and Pitts, fawned over President Obama and failed to hold anyone in his administration "accountable" for for the abuses that occurred on his watch.

In the last year the papers we use to look to for factual information have become tabloids. They very seldom report anything that reflects positively on the President and when forced by circumstance to do so, always implant a dig somewhere in the article.

Pitts seems to lament the overall loss of confidence the American people have in the MSM and, in typical fashion, blames it on the false accusations of "fake news".

Recommend looking to FOX News or One America News if you really want to see what is going on in this country and around the world.

Bob Smith 3 months ago

The media ignoring 8 years of the dog-eating tyrant's scandals have serious degraded their influence.

William Cummings 3 months ago

"Stay with the name-calling. It makes you sound ever so rational. (not)"

Bob Smith, January 16, 2018 at 4:45 p.m., Lawrence Journal World

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

It doesn't just take courage to report the truth, or hear the truth. Journalists and their audience also have to acknowledge truth as an objective good.

Unfortunately some American politicians, the current president foremost among them, can only conceive of "good" in terms of their own self-interest. Objective truth is hateful to those whose faith is entirely in their own absolute "rightness"...and heresy to those who worship them .

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

"whose faith is entirely in their own absolute "rightness" ....

Steve, no President in my lifetime maps more directly to your statement than Barack Obama ... as evidenced by his extensive use of Executive Orders to form the country and its foreign policy to his personal vision. No one knew where Obama was headed when he was elected and, as Trump's win shows, few were happy with the outcome of his globalist "vision".

President Trump made very clear what he intended to do before he was elected and, despite the extraordinary headwind he has faced from the MSM, the Deep State, obstructive DEMs and Never Trump REPs, is systematically fulfilling his promises. That, in my opinion, is truth!

Linda and Bill Houghton 3 months ago

Many of Trump's promises should never be fulfilled.

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

Yesterday you tried to deflect criticism of the current president onto Hilary by claiming she's more corrupt.

Today you try to deflect criticism of him onto Obama by claiming he's a worse narcissist.

Second-grade tactics and total lack of perception don't make for a convincing argument, Gary. And at one a day, you're gonna run out of people to blame your Great Man's faults on: there are only 300 million people in this country.

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

So far I don't recognize any faults! Not a polished speaker and not a professional politician ... that gets him in to problems from time to time as it give grist to the MSM mill.

I believe him to be exactly the leader needed to weed out the corruption in the government.

Are you reading about the FISA unmasking memo Steve? If you move around the DEMs and REPs in the issue, you would be having your usual hissey-fit ! But, like the IRS and FBI abuses, it only effected conservatives, so no big deal.

CBS and FOX are only news agencies covering it ... seriously bad news. Who do we blame Steve?

Bob Smith 3 months ago

Newsweek has become a clickbait farm. That's pretty much the model for what used to pass for objective journalism.

Ken Lassman 3 months ago

Alas, the click-free experience of the Breitbart web page places you even further from objective journalism, Bob. Wrong criterion--try again..

Michael Kort 3 months ago

Trump is such a liar that he can't even tell the world his height and weight without lying .

He has got to be 300+ Lbs and his state drivers license from a younger age says that he is 6', 2" .

If he is not growing taller with advancing age ( as no one does that is 71 ) his nose is still continuing to grow like a certain wooden puppets' .

The above is a drug that no president should take for a stopped up nose !

It raises your blood pressure, can contribute to a stroke and is a relative of amphetamines which tend to make people over energetic, combative and wrestless.......ITS ESSENTIALLY A FORM OF have to show an ID to buy it OTC ......and there are other less drastic OTC meds that could do the deed .

It may work as a simple decongestant...... but it is not that simple !........and his doctor admitted to Trumps use of it but the media is not medically wise enough to catch it and are too lazy to look it up .

Bob Smith 3 months ago

"...And there is another type of Caps Lock user who doesn't capitalize whole sentences but INSTEAD capitalizes a few SPECIFIC words for EMPHASIS. Now read a sentence like that aloud, shouting every time you come to a capitalized word, and tell me you do not sound like an absolute freakin' lunatic. This method can turn even basic known facts into crazy-sounding gibberish ("The SQUARE of the HYPOTENUSE of a RIGHT triangle equals the SUM of the squares of the OTHER two sides")..."

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

So many interesting, challenging and serious US and global issues and you attack President Trump ... he must be lying about is weight. Speak less and watch a true leader in action Michael.

Michael Kort 3 months ago

P.S. : a stopped up nose will cause you to breath thru your mouth ......drying up your mouth.......a decongestant that opens your nose supposed to dry up your mouth ? ? ?.......making you slur your words ?.......and to need both hands to get a drink to your mouth ?......and I have this bridge in New York, that I want to sell to you ( and you only ),......... you can do toll booths...... and the state will fix it, paint it, etc...... for free...... and leaving all of the profits just for you ! ?

Steve King 3 months ago

What really surprised me Michael was how his bone spurs apparently healed themselves.

Michael Kort 3 months ago

What surprised me was that Trump is on " mini-speed ", .......he acts the part,..... and he has the nuclear football in tow .

Don't know anything about his bone spurs...........but they are probably all the fault of Democrats !,..... or a fake news (?) plot ! .........because people PLOT against Donald who live under his bed, ......and at various media outlets, etc..

Bob Smith 3 months ago

BTW, the local Dr. Kildare impersonators making medical diagnoses over the internet are hugely amusing.

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

"So far I don't recognize any faults!"

That's the problem, isn't it, Gary ? That in your much-ballyhooed experience of life you've missed the simple reality that no human being is flawless.

You see why no one believes the "truths" you say experience has taught's only real experience if you keep your eyes open and pay attention ?

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

The pipe dream of using “incapacity” via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Mr. Trump, came to a crashing halt this week courtesy of Dr. Ronny Jackson, former President Barack Obama’s doctor. Well, he’s the White House physician, but was appointed by Mr. Obama in 2013.

Oh darn ... Russia Collusion didn't do it ... crotch grabbing comments didn't do it ... accusations of right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It To Beaver trip back to the Fifties.didn't do it ... what will we do next?

Cait McKnelly 3 months ago

Quoting Fox "News" as a source is like quoting the National Enquirer. Get real.

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

Cait - I hit them all. Recommend you bounce FOX against NBC, CBS, ABC for a few days. You will be amazed about both what they chose to cover and what they are not covering. They Anti-Trump bias is so evident. One America News is also very hard-hitting. Stay off the liberal blogs ... they are just echo chambers for the hard left.

Cait McKnelly 3 months ago

And I recommend you stay off of Breitbart, Stormfront and Fox. They are just as much "echo chambers". Pull your pants, your cognitive dissonance is showing.

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

I'm always amazed dupes of "conservative" media unendingly whine that all other media is untrustworthy because of its partisan bias...but never seem to get that when their beloved "Faux News" (and others of its kind) boasts its "conservative" viewpoint, it is openly admitting its partisan bias.

You say partisan bias is evil...but you say the bias you agree with is the truth. That puts you on the wrong side of objective quantities like fact, Truth, and reality, Gary...none of which come in "conservative" or "liberal" versions.

That's where your claim of "Anti-Trump bias" is laughable. Real journalism's job is reporting real-world events: including what the current president really says and does. (Follow so far, Gary ?) But you (and he) scream "media bias" when journalists objectively report the lies he tells, and the foolish things he does.

Is it "Anti-Trump bias" by the media that brainwashes people to regard Trump as a liar and a fool...or do people figure out for themselves that he's a liar and a fool when the media accurately reports the things he does and says ?

Are you arguing people are passive victims, "brainwashed" by "MSM anti-Trump bias," when they actually figure him out for themselves...and when their conclusions are true ?

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

" journalists objectively report the lies he tells" ...reading too many liberal blogs again Steve. FOX News is refreshingly unbiased (They Report, You Decide) ... Hannity (which I seldom watch) is hard right. He hardly balances the whiny liberal crap you see on CNN and MSNBC.

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

Gary, I don't think you realize your political "opinions" embody spiritual beliefs that put your life in danger.

There are consequences to following a liar. Realizing you can only hear the word as political name-calling, I emphasize I mean "liar" in its most objective sense: a person who habitually says things that are untrue.

That's the sense Jesus meant the word in John 8:43-4, when He said satan is a liar, and the source ("father") of all lies. There are spiritual consequences to following a liar.

There are consequences of believing some person you follow is without fault, as you said earlier in this thread. That's equating your "leader" with God, which is idolatry. There are heavy spiritual consequences for idolatry.

Your political beliefs put your life in extreme spiritual danger, Gary. While you still can, it would be wise to repent ("re-think") those beliefs, ask for forgiveness that you followed them, and turn back from following them. That's the only way you can save your life.

Cait McKnelly 3 months ago

150 editorial members of the Pittsburgh (PA) Newspaper Guild released a statement this past Tuesday denouncing a racist, pro-Trump editorial written by John Robinson Block, the publisher-owner of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The paper refused to publish the LTE on orders from Block.
The Guild called the editorial a "blight" on the 231 years of service the PPG has given the residents of Pittsburgh.
As a result of this, several things are happening at a grass roots level, including boycotts of PPGs advertisers (hit them where it hurts the most; in the pocket) and dissemination of the letter through social media and other means.
Trust me, journalists...REAL journalists...are trying.

Bob Summers 3 months ago

Thanks for the chuckle Pitts.

"Journalism holds power accountable"

Title is blasphemy though.

Should read.

Liberals hold the others accountable.

Thank me in text my friend.

Calvin Anders 3 months ago

If journalism is going to be our savior, it will have to be journalism that is better insulated from the editorial voice of a corporate media agenda. Currently "main stream" media is dominated by corporate executives who determine what stories get coverage and how they are reported. Viewers (read "voters") just tune into whatever slant on the news they find most palatable. Even organization traditionally immune to reporting based on profit motive, such as NPR, have changed their coverage to appease big money donors. Mr. Pitts fails to call out the primary issue with the credibility of news today. If some stories are slanted or pulled from air, how can we trust anything from that source? Trump and his ilk are just exploiting our legitimate skepticism to undermine confidence in virtually all sources of news. The media, in it's abandoning of strict journalistic standards and unwillingness to do the hard work involved in objective coverage, has made it easy to promote distrust in news coverage.

Gary Stussie 3 months ago

The Hill had an interesting example of what we were in for back during the campaign (OCT 16):

"The broadcast evening news programs on ABC, NBC and CBS covered allegations against Trump by several women who claim he sexually assaulted them for more than 23 minutes combined on Thursday night.... But revelations in the WikiLeaks email dump of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — which included derogatory comments by senior campaign officials about Catholics, Latinos and the NAACP, sympathy for Wall Street, advocation for open borders and blatant examples of media collusion with said campaign — got a whole 1 minute and 7 seconds combined. Ratio of negative coverage of Trump vs. Clinton: 23:1.

In print on Thursday, it was no better. The New York Times — known as the paper of record — had 11 negative stories on Trump, including one in the sports section. But zero on Clinton/WikiLeaks. Ratio: 11:0.

Dated but very Informative article on liberal bias in the media ... note that this ends before the TRUMP Presidency even starts

The Top 50 Liberal Media Bias Examples

"This new era in media conceit coincided with the advent of a liberal mindset that took on the weight of the world, a new era in which liberals felt that their ideals rose above God, tradition and country.

In pursuit of that left-wing national agenda — if not a leftist world agenda — “reporters” began to spin all news stories, from the most mundane stories to the hottest national news, toward a left-wing agenda. These “journalists” slipped in bias in every way they could to push the leftist’s meme.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order except a loose historical timeline, here are some of the TOP 50 EXAMPLES of liberal media bias."

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

Gary, "" is a well-known "conservative" disinformation site.

I find that when people tell you their "opinions," they show their innermost beliefs in how they "verify" their "opinions:": and that that shows what kind of person they are.

You continually show that you love lies, and not truth. You literally woship a liar. You freely choose evil, Gary. And a person is what they choose to follow.

Repent., Gary.

There's no reason to talk to a confirmed liar.

Good bye.

Gary Stussie 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Unless you are 12 years old, you should be able to recall from memory about 40 of those examples of liberal bias. It is apparent that you never move very far from the left talking points. Read the article and specifically provide counterpoints ... or fall back on the name calling.

You routinely provide your "opinions" and "feeling" ... never with any support and always dismissive of all other contributors that don't echo you warped beliefs. Go back to your video games.

Calvin Anders 3 months ago

Gary, the big myth is that there is a "liberal" media bias. The right likes to claim some wild conspiracy of the media at large that disfavors conservatives and is trying to forward the agenda of the left. It's idiotic garbage. The media is often bias, but generally in the service of profit motive. And negative stories about Trump vs. Clinton have much more to do with the fact that Trump is actually President and Clinton has more or less zero authority and almost zero public profile right now. Where is your contempt for the horrible, bias coverage of Bernie Sanders during and since the election? Where is your concern about slanted and limited coverage of the FCC's gutting of net neutrality? The truth is the media doesn't unfairly vilify the right. It's that the right is more sensitive to criticism and scrutiny because their lies to the public are more fragile and ill conceived. The right does not like media criticism because it makes it harder for them to sell the snake oil they are selling. And it hurts their feelings.

Steve Hicks 3 months ago

Amen ! Calvin, to your two excellent points.

First, that we should all exercise "our legitimate skepticism" to what we hear second-hand, even from sources that we believe are honestly trying to tell us the facts. And it's our responsibility to vet those sources honestly. Lack of skepticism about one's own preferred sources, and failure to vet those sources, is the difference between being an honest person, or a sheep.

You're right too that profit-motive is probably the main hindrance to real media being as totally objective as their ideal is.

Amen ! as well to your second excellent point, that "the right does not like media criticism because it makes it harder for them to sell the snake oil..." And I'd submit that's exactly the media's job. The continual whining of the Right about "media unfairness" convinces me that the real media are doing their job pretty well (albeit, as our healthy skepticism tells us; and the honest media themselves admit, as Mr. Pitts does; not prefectly).

The fact that the Right always seems the faction doing the most whining probably also shows they are the primary marketers of snake oil. The dog that yelps the loudest is the one that's been hit the hardest.

Bob Smith 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Watching you two guys congratulating each other on how clever and woke you both are is the most amusing thing I've seen on this site in months. I'd have used more colorful language but children may read this.

Steve Hicks 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Are you saying you disagree that people should maintain some skepticism about what they hear, BS, including from their own preferred sources ?

Or that you disagree the dog hit the hardest yelps the loudest ?

If neither is your point, are you just spouting personal snarkiness...again ?

Bob Smith 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm saying you and Calvin having a self-admiration society by comparing your abilities to see your bias as revealed truth is funny, SH** Calling 'em as I see 'em.

Steve Hicks 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Gee, BS, I thought Calvin's post made some good, thoughtful points about the media, which was the subject of Mr. Pitts' column. Always glad to read thoughtful on-topic comments that add something to the discussion. Aren't you ?

If you had something to say about Calvin's points, or Mr. Pitts' views on the media, go right ahead and "call 'em as you see 'em."

We've come to expect that will unfortunately include spite toward people who disagree with you. But spite toward other people for agreeing with each OTHER...? That's over the line, and you know it.

Gary Stussie 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Calvin & Steve .. "big myth is that there is a "liberal" media bias" '

Tell me why the Story of the decade is not being covered, at all, by ABC, NBC, CBS or any of your liberal blogs ... only FOX!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that more than 50,000 texts were exchanged between Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page, the two senior FBI officials who have come under fire for exchanging anti-Trump messages during the 2016 election.

50,000 text messages between lovers in a year’s time begs the question, how the heck did they find time to do their respective jobs?

The latest dump of emails indicates that Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, knew Clinton would not be prosecuted for the email “matter” 2 months before Clinton and her key cronies were even interviewed by the FBI.

Remember the Watergate scandal and the 18 ½ minute Nixon audio tape that was erased? … The Inspector General discovered the FBI’s system failed to retain Strzok/Page text messages for approximately 5 months between December 14, 2017 to May 17, 2017. FIVE very critical months!

When asked Monday whether the FBI “failed to preserve” text message records on similar “Samsung 5” devices belonging to any other FBI officials during that time period, the FBI had “no comment.”

The FBI’s claim that five months of critical evidence went missing due to a technical glitch is really hard to take at face value (smacks of the missing 18 ½ minute President Nixon audio tape).

Nixon/Watergate use to be the cited standard for high-level Government corruption … soon to be replaced by Obama/FISA Warrant/Clinton Email Server cover-up.

Movies, Books and Pulitzers coming your way.

Gary Stussie 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Oh! Here is a better example of liberal MSM bias ... glance at ABC, NBC and CBS coverage of Government Shutdown Ending

Each has big picture of Happy Face Chuck Schumer with a write up that typically says ...

"Senate Democrats "paved the way" for the deal ahead of a noon vote on a key procedural measure that needed their support to end the funding impasse. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats would drop their objections to the bill in exchange for GOP assurances that Congress would take up a larger immigration bill in the coming weeks. But the 33 Senate Democrats who voted to advance the measure maintain they fought to protect DACA, which they feel Republicans would not otherwise have made a priority."

Horse pucky! Truth is polls were working against DEMs ... White House has always wanted permanent solution to DACA ... also wants a more permanent solution to the immigration crisis.

"Right now, again, we want a permanent solution to that [DACA] program," White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday. "But we also want to keep a big priority for the administration is making sure we don’t find ourselves having the same battle in two, three, four and five years down the road. So we have to have a responsible immigration reform that addresses a number of issues, not just the DACA program."

Let's see how the USAToday rag covers the shutdown tomorrow

Watch FOX or One America News (OAN) if you want to see what is really going on!

Steve King 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Fox News? Hilarious. Surf the news outlets, Globally. 99% say the sky is Blue. Surf Fox, the sky is Grey. Sad.

Calvin Anders 2 months, 4 weeks ago

So, Gary, you are going to argue that Fox is the unbiased source that proves the other sources have a liberal bias? You're going to argue that Fox is the shining beacon of journalistic integrity and rigorous methods to be as objective as possible? That they always check their sources and never use misleading statistics? Really? That they never distort or exaggerate to create outlandish conspiracy theories? That they never blindly spout right wing talking points that have no basis in fact? I feel like I can rest my case right here.

Gary Stussie 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I am suggesting that FOX NEWS is reasonably fair and balanced. Clearly some of FOX programming is a conservative counter balance to the 14 different liberal stations and the cadre of foaming-at-the-mouth wackos that call themselves journalists.

Tune in sometime Calvin ... Not uncommon, on FOX News, for journalists to challenge or question President's Trumps actions ... Conversely, please point it out if you see ONE MSM article that appears to treat Trump fairly ... just ONE. Got to be one ... how about "Trump's socks matched today"

Gary Stussie 2 months, 4 weeks ago

USAToday 23 JAN 18 MONEY section

"U.S. CEOs don't let politics get in the way of soaring confidence ... Confidence levels at some of America's largest corporations soared over the past year despite uncertainty created by President Trump's election and the fractious geopolitical headlines his administration unleashed ..."

No bias there! If any of Obama's years in office would have approached the successes of the last year, liberals would be wanting to establish a monarchy and appoint him King!

365 days of daily bashing by the MSM and President Trumps accomplishments, vision and inextinguishable optimism still drives global business and stock markets.

Interesting note ... Credibility wise I think the MSM media is realizing they have been shooting themselves in the foot this past year ... NBC seems to have made a pretty clear break from the daily "Trump torn off his mattress tag" reporting! Maybe there is hope.

Richard Heckler 2 months, 4 weeks ago

These are other sources of information to challenge the big conservative money which has taken ownership of most "mainstream" news sources. Ownership by the few = viewpoints by the few thus eliminating tough investigative journalism to be read by the many.

Kansas City Star

DC Report -



Democracy NOW -









Richard Heckler 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Notice by some of the comments how conservative Party of ALEC soldiers stand by their alleged criminals no matter what.

What history has shown we citizens many times elected politicians never admit guilt initially instead try to subvert justice and investigation through public opinion and tons of obstruction.

Bob Smith 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Richard, your name came up at the last local ALEC meeting. We laughed for half an hour.

Bob Summers 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Opinion: Liberal Journalism holds power accountable

There. Fixed that for you Pitts.

You're welcome

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