One thing that grinds my gears every election season is the lack of effort from the members of the national journalist class. Basically most of them turn into stenographers – just repeating what political people tell them. Robin Roberts, a morning show host who thinks she is a journalist, knows what her job should be but misses the point of what it is suppose to do.
Summer repeats of TV shows are a nice time to come across things like an interview with Good Morning America host Robin Roberts on the Ellen DeGeneres show from back in February. She is asked about the 2016 Presidential election:
Robin Roberts: What I want to do is get the true facts. Let people make the decisions and decide what it is that is most important for them.
I just wish all the candidates on both sides of the aisle could talk about what their plan is without tearing down the other one. Just let us know what it is that you want to do to move the country forward and be done with it. But its part of being a journalist you have to remove yourself because I don’t want to influence anybody. I trust the audience and trust people to make these decisions for themselves.
She gets that journalists should be personally neutral and someone who exposes the facts. Where she misses the point is trusting the audience to make the decisions for themselves. Politics may be open to interpretation but the facts are not.
If one “side” is false or based on false assumptions then it should be pointed out that it’s false.
If, for example, trickle down economics hasn’t worked for 30 years then a presidential campaign flogging that failed policy should be called out on it.
Roberts works in the gray area of news – her show is more like light infotainment than actual classic journalism. I think that’s part of the problem. Her show treats political candidates like movie stars plugging their latest product – fluff them up and don’t be too hard so they come back on the show. Politics isn’t a “product” to be flogged.
If you want to expose the facts in politics then it shouldn’t be about entertaining or fluffing people up. Political decisions affect real people.
Also published on Medium.