NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt is the latest high-profile TV journalist to join the growing trend of endorsing one-sided reporting.
While accepting an award at the 45th Murrow Symposium this week, Holt claimed that “it’s become clear that fairness is overrated,” adding that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.”
“That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention,” Holt said. “Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous. Our duty is to be fair to the truth.”
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Holt’s colleague Chuck Todd became a pioneer of sorts by outwardly declaring that having a robust debate about politically charged subjects wasn’t necessary.
In a 2019 special dedicating an entire hour to the “climate crisis”, the “Meet the Press” moderator defended his decision not to invite climate skeptics onto his show.
“We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter and human activity is a major cause, period,” he told viewers. “We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not.”
He later doubled down during an appearance on “The Daily Show.”
“We had a robust debate about taxes. That’s the debate,” Todd told host Trevor Noah. “The debate is ‘What do you do? This.'”
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“But not for climate change, why not?” Noah asked.
“Well, I also didn’t invite anybody who didn’t believe in the moon landing, and I also didn’t invite anybody who is a flat-earther. Is that all right?” Todd shot back.
Noah continued to press the NBC News political director, echoing critics who say that “the press should be giving everyone an equal voice.”
“That is – no,” Todd responded. “Our job is to be fair. Our job is to be fair to the facts that are there. How do we mitigate climate change? How do we – if we’re going to build sea walls, where do we build them and who pays for that?”
In early January of this year, as then-President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers were challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election, CNN anchor Don Lemon blasted Republicans for claiming their opposition to then-President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory was being waged on behalf of the millions of Trump voters and their concerns about claims of voter fraud and irregularities.
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“Why do they believe that? It’s because you’ve been telling them! Of course, they’re going to believe it!” Lemon exclaimed. “If you would stop telling them that and start telling them the truth, then maybe they would believe the truth, that it was not stolen and that it was a clean election, according to everyone who has investigated, most of them Republican.”
He continued, “So stop staying that we must respect Trump supporters who believe bulls— because it’s bulls— that you’ve been feeding them! The president and you, you’ve been feeding them the BS and now that they believe it, again. Another self-fulfilling prophecy and feedback loop.”
After Biden was sworn into office, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos clashed with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. who was still raising questions about alleged voter fraud that took place in November.
While Paul listed off various irregularities that could be challenged or overturned by the Supreme Court, including secretaries of state unilaterally changing election laws by skipping the legislative process, Stephanopoulos had enough.
“Senator Paul, I have to stop you there,” Stephanopoulos interrupted. “No election is perfect but there were 86 challenges filed by President Trump and his allies in court, all were dismissed … The Department of Justice led by William Barr said there was no widespread evidence of fraud. Can’t you just say the words, ‘This election was not stolen?'”
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“What I would suggest is, if we want greater confidence in our elections — and 75% of Republicans agree with me — is that we do need to look into election integrity and do need to see if we can restore confidence in the elections,” Paul doubled down.
“Well, 75% of Republicans agree with you because they were fed a big lie by President Trump and his supporters to say that the election was stolen,” Stephanopoulos fired back.
“George, where you make the mistake is that people coming from the liberal side like you, you immediately say everything’s a lie instead of saying there are two sides to everything,” Paul told the anchor. “Historically what would happen is if I said that I thought there was fraud, you would interview someone who said there wasn’t, but now you insert yourself in the middle and say that the absolute fact is that everything I’m saying is a lie without examining the facts.”
After Stephanopoulos erupted at Paul to reiterate President Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen,” the senator shot back.
“You say we’re all liars, you’re just simply saying we’re all liars,” Paul accused Stephanopoulos. “There has been no examination, thorough examination of all the states to see what problems we had and see if we can fix them. Now let me say, to be clear, I voted to certify the state electors because I think it would be wrong for Congress to overturn that, but at the same time, I’m not willing just to sit here and say ‘Oh, everybody on the Republican side is a liar and there is no fraud.’ No, there were lots of problems and there were secretaries of state who illegally changed the law and that needs to be fixed and I’m going to work hard to fix it.
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“I won’t be cowed by people who say, ‘Oh, you’re a liar.’ That’s the problem with the media today is that they say all Republicans are liars and everything we say is a lie. There are two sides to every story. Interview somebody on the other side, but don’t insert yourself into the story to say we’re all liars because we knew there was some fraud in the election,” Paul continued.
“There are not two sides to the story,” Stephanopoulos pushed back. “This has been looked at in every state and it was certified in every state.”
“You’re forgetting who you are! You are forgetting who you are as a journalist if you think there’s only one side!” Paul exclaimed. “You’re inserting yourself into the story to say that I’m a liar because I want to look at election fraud and I want to look at secretaries of state who illegally changed the voter laws without the permission of their state legislatures. That is incontrovertible. It happened, and you can’t just sweep that under the rug and say, ‘Oh, nothing to see here and everybody’s a liar and you’re a fool if you bring this up!’ You’re inserting yourself into the story. A journalist would hear both sides and there are two sides to this story.”
The ABC anchor insisted he was “standing by facts” and that there are “no two sides to facts.”
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NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News that these journalists are “showing themselves to have an aversion to the idea that one can be both factual and fair at the same time.”
“The liberal media seems as intent as ever to browbeat viewers who don’t think or vote like they do into submission,” Houck explained. “And if you dare to point this out to them, they’ll suggest those not in lockstep have had their minds poisoned or are concerned with threatening the lives of journalists. In reality, journalism’s credibility crisis is almost entirely self-inflicted.”