Veteran broadcast journalist Ted Koppel spoke out against bias in mainstream media and its negative biased coverage of President Donald Trump at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event in early March.
The Carnegie event, called “The War on the Press,” was not to reprimand the press but was instead to discuss the alleged “unprecedented assault” against mainstream news media outlets in the United States and the world.
Koppel spoke to an audience alongside journalist and author Marvin Kalb. They discussed Kalb’s book, “Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the threat to American Democracy.”
A 56-year veteran of the broadcast industry, Koppel singled out the New York Times and Washington Post, saying they are not what they used to be 50 years ago. He said that when people talk about the Times and the Post, they are talking about organizations that “I believe have, in fact, decided as organizations that Donald J. Trump is bad for the United States.”
He recalled how, sitting at the breakfast table with his wife in 2016, he saw that the New York Times published language on its front page that never would have been used 50 years ago. He was referring to the Access Hollywood tape containing profane language that aired when President Trump was running for office. Koppel told his wife, “The Times is absolutely committed to making sure that this guy does not get elected.”
Koppel then told Kalb that President Trump’s perception that the establishment press is out to get him is correct and that President Trump is not mistaken in his perception “when so many of the liberal media, for example, describe themselves as belonging to The Resistance, what does that mean? That’s not said by people who consider themselves reporters, objective reporters of facts.”
“We are not the reservoir of objectivity that I think we were 40 or 50 years ago.”
Kalb defended the lack of objectivity and negative media bias against President Trump, saying that the president deserves it because of his actions before becoming president and after.
Opinion is Not Objective Fact
Koppel then pointedly reminded Kalb that his thinking that the president deserves the media bias is his opinion, and not fact. He added, “There are folks out there who would disagree with the perception that the press is still being objective.”
Koppel then posed a hypothetical situation in which a news story stated something untruthful and slanderous about him. People would believe it, and it would take from a couple of days to a month to clarify and remove misunderstandings.
Trump-Bashing Good for Business
However, the media, Koppel said, “are in the awkward position as reporters of having to report what people like the president of the United States say, and do. But, let’s also at least be honest enough to acknowledge that the New York Times and Washington Post, which had fallen on somewhat harder economic times before Donald Trump came along, are doing brilliantly today. And MSNBC—doing brilliantly. FOX, CNN—doing brilliantly.”
Koppel said if the president were suddenly not the president, media outlet ratings would go down. “He [President Trump] has been very very good for the business of journalism.”
Kalb quickly added that Trump has been good for business because he has said and done things noteworthy enough to report on, then ended the discussion between the two by opening the forum for questions from the audience.