Asking tough questions is not a threat; reporters are not PR agents…

I admit, I am biased against President Trump. But I particularly dislike the way he berates journalists who ask critical questions. He declares that they are poor at their job. Just saw a video where he suggested to a proven professioanl PBS correspondent that she should be “more positive”, and he also seemed to insinuate that she had moved between jobs due to lack of ability. He claimed her questions were “threatening”.

I don’t care what your politics are, pro Trump or anti-Trump or indifferent. A true journalist’s job is to ferret out the truth. Yes, some will ask so-called “gotcha questions”, which when asked solely for showmanship are possibly out of order. But if asked to bring out the truth, they are in order. A confident and wise president could turn a gotcha question into a positive for himself. And I mean without changing the subject at hand or otherwise dodging the question, or threatening questioners.

JFK was good at that. He seldom bristled at tough questions. He just answered them. Full disclosure: I am aware, though, that his press conferences were said to have been at least somewhat set up. Even so, he answered what appeared to be questions that could make him look bad. He also admitted sometimes that he was wrong, as I recall.

To not be able to admit you could be wrong could cause you to constantly make bad moves. Pride cometh before a fall. I think that could fit here.

Journalists who only ask softball questions designed to make the recipient look good are not journalists at all. I think they are called “public relations” people.

As a news consumer I want objective information. I even prefer that in opinion articles or so-called news analysis pieces. Issues need to be examined fairly from all angles when possible.

Unfortunately, much of the news we get today appears to be at least a bit tainted with bias. As I have stated in this blog, it is not presented in the even-handed way I was taught it should be in journalism classes when I was in college, pre-internet days.

I still trust the New York Times and PBS and NPR, and do not trust Fox. But I am occasionally disappointed with my mainstream favorites. They seem to sometimes blend non-attributed opinion with objective and attributed material. Of course one cannot simply overlook or fail to mention when Trump simply tells a bald faced lie or makes up or misuses statstics and other material. But simply running constant headlines that the president is lying somehow sounds like a campaign against him, even if it is true. One can simply report what he said but also include factual backround. That can be tricky or dangerous too because there is a fine line between background and information and advocacy and bias and editorializing. No one said honest and professional journalusm is easy.

Also, broadcast journalism, where so many catch what news they can, by its very nature tends toward a more simplistic wrapup and explanations by whoever is presenting it, rather than quotes from a variety of sources.

Print journalism nowadays seems to have copied that format to some extent. The average person, I suspect, does not feel he or she has time to read long pieces. Instead they want quick reports and summaries.

Those who would try to fool the people prefer the people remain ignorant or unaware or even unconcerned with all the facts or points of view on any issue.

And then you have this thing called Fox News, which seems to have been created by appealing to a demographic that feels its concerns and views have been ignored. Fox has a market in both hardline, far-right partisans, and just average folks who prefer to hear what squares with their own pre-conceived notions. Too, I think it appeals to conservative folks who see some of their cherished values, i.e., God and and pro-life, the flag, and the preservation of the status quo in society threatened by too liberal ways of thinking. To some extent I can see that, right or wrong.

I don’t like to make snap judgments on what others believe.

But no matter what I myself believe or what side I take, I prefer an objective examination of the issues. Except for my belief in individual freedom and capitalism with fair market protections or constraints, I do not care to be chained to a set of pre-ordained ideals.

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