tv Washington Journal Alicia Shepard Discusses the Current Media Environment CSPAN July 1, 2017 3:06am-3:36am EDT
doctors have less flexibility when setting their rates for individual be patients and people who pay out of pocket. st: you can follow niels lesniewski's reporting at rollcall.com. and also ga >> "washington journal" continues. host: at our table this morning, alicia shepard, "usa today's" media and ethics expert. thank you for being here to talk about the relationship between this white house and the media. let me begin by how you would define it right now. guest: i would define it as nothing we've ever seen before and as not productive in the least. i mean, there's always been tension, always, always, with the white house and the press. in fact, i did write a book about watergate and back then,
the press were like hand servants to the white house, and watergate changed all that. it was contentious then. it's always going to be. this is like nothing i've ever seen. it's just so counterproductive to the american people for the president to misunderstand, to confuse people that the role of the media is to be a surrogate for the people under the constitution. and they're not the enemy. they are there to do their jobs. it's just very, very frustrating, discouraging. host: who is responsible for this -- the condition of the relationship? guest: wow. i guess that depends on who you ask. i'm sure if you ask president trump he would be very clear that it is the media. you know, i think that the white house is showing such
great signs of disrespect towards the press that i would say that it's become an adversarial relationship in the way it shouldn't be and maybe the press gets really frustrated and responds at the lack of respect towards the media. i mean, i don't think the media does the job for respect, but i think they're used to -- we are used to be treating with a certain modicum of respect. host: what about what gets covered? going back to yesterday and the conversation we had with our viewers this morning, the msnbc "morning joe" hosts talk about the mental state of the president. the president reacts in twitter what he had to say about that comment and it dominates all day long and then our conversation with our viewers this morning who some of them are supporters say he's just firing back.
guest: he's just the president of the united states. just ignore it and move on. do you think bill clinton wasn't attacked in the same way? do you think obama wasn't attacked? all presidents are made fun of. look at what jon stewart on "the daily show" made a career out of making fun of presidents. just move on. host: and what about what gets covered? i want to listen to sarah huckabee sanders at the white house laying out the argument with numbers about how much attention is paid to what this administration is trying to do, their policy agenda versus other news. [video clip] sarah: i think all of us would like to focus on the legislative agenda over you look at the coverage over the last month of the extended period between may and june, all of the major networks, if you look at their coverage and what they're talking about, they spent one minute in the evening newscast talking about
tax reform. three minutes on infrastructure. five minutes on the economy and jobs. 17 minutes on health care. 353 minutes s, attacking the president and pushing a false narrative on russia. i mean, look at that in comparison. if you guys want to talk about legislative agenda and focus on policy and priorities, you guys get to help set that table. d 353 minutes of attacks against the president and driving a false narrative and one minute on tax reform, that's over the course of the month. the numbers -- guys, the numbers don't lie. the media's focused on priorities. they don't line up with the rest of america. host: alicia shepard. guest: wow. driving a false narrative means that the media is covering something that the white house isn't comfortable with. and i find it just so
frustrating to just -- the sort of confusing of the issue. there are legitimate reasons, legitimate investigations right now into whether or not there was collusion. i agree that so far they haven't come up with anything, but it's definitely a legitimate news story, but i would also say to sarah huckabee sanders that when the president tweets something like did yesterday about psychojoe and low i.q. mika he's distracting from the issues. yesterday wasn't about health care reform. the front page of "the post" today, "washington post" is a story about the president's tweets and the criticism by both republicans and democrats. so it goes both ways in terms of who is being responsible here. host: how do you define fake
news? because that is something that the president tweets a lot about, and designating outlets and publications as fake news. guest: right. let's start with the fact that news by definition is not fake. so i would say, quote, for fake has but the white house totally co-opted that phrase. we have news that's 100% false, created for financial gain. and that's a lot of what we saw the pope endorses president -- the candidate trump during the election, hillary clinton sold guns to isis, those are stories completely made up. and you have misleading stories where there's some element of truth and it's distorted. and then you have just pure, flat-out propaganda. so i think that really forget what is the definition, what it really speaks to is that we as
consumers of news need to be very critical in how we approach news that news literacy is the solution and 's going to be take a long time. if you think back to yellow journalism when things were sensational and how we know now when we get to the checkout line there's "the national enquirer," there's "world weekly news." we've been educated to know that hillary clinton didn't have an alien baby. right now there is a move to have more news literacy. there's a news literacy project, which i would encourage all visitors to c-span go on the web, donate. news literacy classes and learning the critical thinking skills are really what we need to do. host: well, the president has tweeted out this morning. just 20 minutes ago saying that he watched low-rated "morning
joe" this morning for the first time in a long time. fake news he calls them. he called me to stop a national enquirer article. i said no. bad show. what he's referring to what mik and joe scarborough write in today's column. the president's unhealthy obsession of our show has been in the public record for ponts and during the campaign the epublican campaign called mika neurotic. this year top white house staff members warned that the national enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. guest: that show is such a disregard for how the media works. i just can't -- first of all, "the national enquirer" doesn't have the kind of respectability in terms of being a credible news outfit that they would ear whatever story appeared in
"the national enquirer." i do give them credit. they did come up with the story about john edwards having an affair and they were right on that. that's one out of 100,000 stories they've done. this is such a waste of time. we should be talking about health care. we should be talking about jobs, about immigration reform. the president should be tweeting about what he's doing and how he's trying to create a coalition. host: he also said apparently last night in a fundraiser, it would be fun to sue cnn. the president joked it would be fun to sue cnn, a favorite media target of his that he frequently drives as fake news. boy, did cnn get killed over the last few days, he said, according to an audio recording obtained. these are really dishonest people. should i sue them? i mean, they're phonies. cnn did have an investigative team resign over a story they ran. guest: yes. cnn responded quickly. they ran a story that was -- i
hope viewers are familiar with but just in general a trump ally being loosely connected to a russian investment fund. the story went up on the web. it didn't even get on tv. it was taken down. there was an apology. the three very senior, very experienced veteran journalists all offered their resignations and they were accepted which that raises a lot of questions to me why they were accepted, what's the story behind that but i'm hoping that cnn will be a little more transparent about what happened. i think that transparency is the new objectivity, that the media's reputation is so low but, you know, i can't really think of a time where the media's reputation has been high. so these polls they talk about distrust in the media don't really mean anything.
host: let's hear what our viewers have to say about this. steven in hyde park, new york. democrat. caller: good morning. thanks for c-span. this st amazed that administration seems to try to crush press freedoms. they prevent the briefings or close the tv briefings at the it's important that a free press pass on information and continue a dialogue so we as americans can decide how we feel and how to respond because frankly it just seems like we're steering towards an oligarch russian farce of trying to control the news and trying to put a spin on the news and that's not what we're about in this country.
guest: i totally agree. i mean, i don't think this is a matter of democrat, republican, conservative, liberal. i think this is a matter of both institutions, the media and the executive branch, the white house, treating each knowing h respect, they each have a job and letting them do it. i won't disagree with you on that. i will say we talk about "the media" and i shouldn't really because there's no "the media." there are thousands of different outlets and who really is the media? it's really, do you trust cnn? do you trust bright bart? do you trust fox? those are the issues is who do you trust because otherwise we have a to z in terms of the media and they are not all credible. host: tennessee, independent. caller: yeah. so my comment is, you know, we
had need -- everybody needs to calm down, both the president and the media. the president in some of his tweets have been very derogatory. and the media has already had to retract several false eports, press releases and everything. we have some major problems in this country and if the president, who was elected, and the media cannot focus on these problems that we have, our country is going to continue to go down. and i just wish that everybody ould do their respective jobs. president trump, work with the ongress, pass or get something started on tax reform, infrastructure, health care.
the media, focus on the actual facts and quit bringing up all these sources and everything. if they're sources cannot be named and factually documented, then don't bring anything up. that's what got president trump all right up. host: let's bring a couple points there. guest: well, in storms of anonymous sources, i agree they are a problem -- in terms of anonymous sources, i agree they are a problem. it's difficult to do the job of reporter without relying on anonymous sources or people who have a reason to -- they want to get something across but they're worried about their job. so i think that there should be fewer of them, but i will also say, you read "the new york times" and you see that the white house says things
anonymously. so it works, again, both ways. if the white house wants the news media to be more specific about who the sources, then the white house should be equally specific. i think the real danger now -- you brought up the fact of mistakes and retractions and journalists work really, really hard to get things accurately. and i think it's -- and they make mistakes. i mean, the pressure. there's a lot of news that's being made today in a minute-to-minute news cycle. they make mistakes. and the public seem to be much a little more forgiving in the past when they would make the mistake, they would correct the mistake, acknowledge it, talk about what changes depending if it happened in a news organization depending on the seriousness of their mistake and move on. and now i think there's an article today, do the press have the right to be wrong, and
i say yes, they should, but they don't. and making mistakes seems to be red meat for the white house to then attack the media rather than accepting. you know, cnn was very gracious about the mistake. the person who was the target of the mistake was very classy in accepting it. host: let's go to minneapolis. patricia on our line for republicans. caller: yeah. this is absolutely ridiculous. the media is so clear they are just an arm of the d.n.c. cnn is absolutely incredible. they quote unnamed sources, unnamed departments, unnamed official. they make things up out of thin air. "the new york times" is being sued by sarah palin because of their piece about connecting her directly with the gabby giffords shooting. i have -- if i see something
from "the washington post," "the new york times," cnn, msnbc, nbc, i don't believe it. they are always wrong. all they talk about is attacks on trump. you have plays with him being stabbed. you have left-wing comedians holding up his chopped off bloody head. the media is out of control. host: let's take that point, alicia shepard. guest: well, i like to ask, who do you believe? who do you think is credible? host: i apologize, she's not on the line anymore. guest: first, i don't think "the new york times" is always wrong. i think now we're dealing with perception and what is known as confirmation bias which is that you seek out information that you believe and that confirms your belief. and i think we are so polarized now that if i am more liberal,
possibly i will go to "the new york times." if i am more conservative i will go to fox, and i think we just need to be more open to opinions that don't confirm our beliefs, that we need to listen to other people and not use the words always wrong or -- host: what do you think is the solution for the media given the animosity that some people have toward the media? and also the poll numbers that reflect that. what is it that the media can do? should the media be fighting back? should they enter the fray? guest: well, i think that what news organizations, responsible, credible news organizations need to do is continue doing their job as best as they can, as accurately as they can.
i know that just sounds like a stomp speech, but i think that's important. but i also think having a public editor, having an ombudsman like the national public radio is really important to explain how the news media works. all the public sees are the final product, and i just think if any viewer sat inside a newsroom meeting and saw how much hand wringing this is, should we use this illegal immigrant's name, if we do, are we putting that person in jeopardy, i think they would have greater respect. i sometimes despair but i can't about the future of the country when we are so polarized that we dismiss anything that doesn't confirm or conform to what we believe. host: darrell in rochester, new
york, independent. caller: hi. i just have a brief comment. i've been watching all morning. our president, you know, the self-serving guy, you know, it's just funny that everyone i heard and everyone that's talking, nobody's coming to the point that we are america first. we're not republican, democrat, independent. i voted for george herbert walker bush. i voted for clinton. i voted for george w. bush. i voted for obama. i voted for ms. clinton. but, listen, it's all -- it seems -- the whole thing is just a farce. we cannot survive in our democracy without the media. regardless of what everybody wants to think, this whole fake news thing, i mean, that's something that people pay attention. we have only been using that
term for almost maybe two years, maybe. host: pick up on that. guest: well, there's always been fake news. it goes back to george washington publishing letters hat turned out to not be true. so i agree, we are all americans, and we do need to work together. that's n't think that really the issue. i think the issue is more the polarization and what can we do to be more open to people who disagree with us, and i do think, again, i will harp on this, news literacy. we all need to understand how we're being manipulated so that when you have -- you see some story or some headline that gets your blood boiling and you're outraged, that's when you should step back and be skeptical and think, wait, am i being tricked here?
because that's -- a tweet, a facebook posting, something that you see that gets you really agered is often not true. i won't say it's always not true, but it is often and people need to step back. they need to take a minute before they press send or repost or share or comment. we react way, way too fast. we react because the news pushes our button. host: fredericksburg, virginia, vivian is watching, democrat. caller: thank you, greta. hello, c-span. i will say this. they always talk about the liberal media. i don't just think the media is liberal. if it was we wouldn't have went into iraq. -- hey are they're liberal, trump, he lies every day. the media has to question him out. and these men that said trump is a man, i hope they don't
have no daughters and i hope they don't have any sons because what are you teaching them? is it ok to harass, maybe beat women? you teaching your men that? and you saying it's ok for women to be degraded? and it's ok, they should accept it? because something's not right about this. it's not. and these people that support trump, you know, y'all need to really look in the mirror at yourself and hope that your children and grandchildren don't believe you and trump because there's something wrong. they degrade obama, his family, the whole eight years he was in there. and trump was the leader. calling him a kenyan. he sent people over there to hawaii looking at his records. you won't believe what i found. he found nothing. and the media accepted it. they brought trump to us because they gave a free media over a billion, $2 billion worth. now you got to make up what
you've done. host: ok. let's talk about money. guest: wow. host: there's a couple things there from -- she brings up money at the end. and during the campaign, the money that the networks saw from covering then-candidate donald trump and this campaign. guest: there's no doubt and i think we even had the head of cbs say publicly that trump was really good for business. ou know, he's obviously a very colorful, flamboyant person to cover. and it's easy to see. if you look at the coverage of trump versus clinton and clinton, hillary clinton was very measured and restrained and matter of fact and just the facts and it just -- where does the -- it's a chicken and egg. i mean, the public would turn off a hillary clinton press conference to watch a trump press conference because it was
entertaining. so it works both ways. i mean, we like that stuff. we can't deny that. host: we'll go to alabama, lynn, republican. caller: one reason the media turned off the hillary thing was because she could only get about 100 people in the audience. also, the joe, mika and joe thing, when was the last time the president was called a schmuck? and they come on there today and act like they are so innocent and they want to have a pity party for him. as far as me, i listen to a lot of x.m. radio, and i listen to all the news stations. and all they do is hit pieces on cnn, msnbc constantly doing
hit pieces on trump. so i don't blame him for doing what he did. i support him and i will support him. host: well, let's take that point. some have said, our viewers who have called in during this conversation that they went too far when they said he was unfit, mentally ill, and they repeated that, and sarah sanders said, they believe the white house day in and day out. guest: i think people said terrible things about bill clinton and about president obama and i think -- who cares? who cares what they say? he's the president of the united states. be bigger than that. i can understand it pushes your buttons. i'm not defending president obama. i'm not standing up for him but i just think, that guy took a
lot of grief as well. was called a lot of names. was dismissed and disparaged. it just goes with the job. we're feeling it right now because it's happening right now. but historically attacking presidents and going too far on the late night comedy shows is just part of our culture. and i think it might be interesting to actually go back and look. is he getting more attacked than other presidents? i mean, i think we don't remember far enough back to what bill clinton went through with the monica lewinsky story and how he was made fun of and called every name in the book. it seems to go with the territory. host: you were talking before we came up about research you're doing into fake news. tell us a little bit more about that and what exactly are you hoping to figure out? guest: well, i think that
everyone right now academics, the news organizations, the tech companies, compute erskine tists are all acknowledging that -- computer scientists are all acknowledging there is a problem. we still don't really understand how it spreads. we understand that it does spread. there's a lot of research that needs to be done. the tech companies, particularly amazon -- google and facebook realize that they are very influential and they've played a role in this. it certainly took facebook's mark zuckerberg a while to come around to the fact that facebook really is a huge influence. there is nothing in our history or the world that is like facebook in terms of the scale and influence and the way it connects people. and so they're all looking at, at can we do, but what i'm
interested in is, where might it hamper or tap down free speech so that, do you want the government to get involved? and if the government is involved, isn't that trampling on our first amendment rights? if facebook starts censoring ata, is that going to impact our free speech? i like to say, we have the right to lie on the internet. and that's the right that needs to be protected. but we also need to have some -- i mean, we need news literacy, we need fact checking, we need the tech companies to try to come up with technology that can weed out fake from real. and that's a very big challenge. host: alicia shepard, we look forward to hearing what you have to say on media and ethic