SAN DIEGO – The media are a mess. Their New Year’s resolution should be to clean up their act.
This is hardly breaking news. I hear the indictment all the time. I might be giving a speech where I blast away at politicians. And, during the Q&A session, someone will often flip the script and lament what has become of my profession.
According to critics, the media are no longer the solution but part of the problem. We’re biased and not even honest enough to admit it. We often become the story, and we love listening to ourselves talk. Half of us live in bubbles, and the other half in glass houses. And the reason we don’t talk more about how far removed politicians have become from the American public is because we’re just as distant, if not more so.
Instead of being content to just get readers, viewers and listeners to think, some of my colleagues need to control what they think. After all, we act like we’re better, smarter and holier than most of our audience. With a mindset like that, what could possibly go wrong?
Remember when Ted Cruz brought down the house a few months ago during the GOP debate on CNBC? It happened when the Texas senator criticized the feckless moderators for asking questions that “illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” Even liberal comedian Bill Maher applauded, tweeting: “oh my god did i just hear Ted Cruz say something awesome that i agree with? Yes. The media is even stupider than the pols.”
Among the most popular criticisms is that the media cannot be counted on to keep the powerful in check, because they are intoxicated with their own self-importance. They are convinced that they can make or break politicians, and they become discombobulated when they lose that power. They cover the wrong stories, and put ratings circulation figures before journalism. And, while they have always been accused of having a liberal bias, they now seem more preachy than ever.
Much of that helped fuel some of the worst media blunders in 2015. Here is a partial list.
Clearly, these were not our finest moments. With each misstep, the Fourth Estate diminished its credibility, increased public cynicism and made it harder for our audience to trust us.
And to think, many people join the media to create a better world. We should aim closer to home and focus instead on being better at our jobs and creating a better product.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.