You can’t trust media’s thinking

My argument for years has been that readers can repose a high degree of trust in brand-name news organizations to spell names correctly, quote sources accurately, nail down discrete facts.

You can’t trust their thinking …

What exactly is wrong with [MSNBCs Chuck] Todd’s brain? He confuses two basic categories: good/bad and true/false. He believes he’s speaking in the journalistic language of true/false, but he really means: While it may be false that Trump colluded with Russia, this is a pro-Trump talking point so it’s bad to dwell on it. And while it may be true the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, this is also a pro-Trump talking point so it’s good not to acknowledge it.

Judgment is teachable. Long ago, in relation to the Enron debacle, I pointed to the work of Harvard’s Max Bazerman and Northwestern’s David Messick, who theorized how systematic reasoning errors can lead to unethical business judgments. Journalists, don’t lie to yourselves: Their advice applies to your work too.

Our industry needs to grow up by starting to police its reasoning as rigorously as it does its facts. Unfortunately, many who are employed today, when you come down to it, wouldn’t really have much to say if not armed with the trope du jour. We hire the wrong people. This problem is only getting worse at places like the New York Times and Washington Post due to the kind of advance the narrative, ring up the clicks” journalism that prevails in the marketplace today.

Holman W. Jenkins Jr., Russiagate and the Media’s News Denial

April 15, 2019

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