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Carl Bernstein: “Cold Civil War” Has Taken Over Media; “Fact-Based Debate Is Becoming Impossible”

To say that the U.S. media has a developed a bit of a credibility issue of late would be an understatement. Mass hysteria over Trump’s victory in November has clearly resulted in a staggering deterioration in reporting standards as dropping the latest “bombshell” and inflicting the latest wound on the Trump administration has been prioritized over truthful, fact-based reporting. All of which, as we’ve noted frequently of late, has resulted in a number of embarrassing corrections from several major media outlets who have been forced to admit their reporting was just outright “fake news.”

And, in case you missed it, Carl Bernstein, who is best known for his investigative reporting for the Washington Post that shed light on the Watergate scandal, appeared on CNN, of all places, this weekend to discuss the media’s credibility issue which he argued has largely developed in the “cable news era” as media outlets have become increasingly politicized in their race for ratings.


Among other things, Bernstein said that media outlets in this country are engaged in a “cold civil war” and that, as a result, “fact-based debate is becoming impossible.”

“The difference between Watergate and now is that we are in the midst of a cold civil war in this country.  A political and cultural civil war and all of our reporting is taking place in the context of that cold civil war.  And nothing quite like existed at the time of Watergate.”

“And part of the cold civil war itself is the configuration of media with Fox News, with CNN, being perceived by different sets of viewers as representing different truths.  When, in fact, Fox has changed American politics as perhaps no institution has since its invention in 1996.”

“But also cable news itself is a different form than we had at the time of Watergate.  We didn’t see reporters on television discussing their stories.  We do go farther on the air now by having reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN expand on their stories on the air.  Viewers are getting more interpreted information.” 

“It is a different media universe and it is a cauldron taking place in this hot house of political debate in which a fact-based debate is becoming impossible in this culture and that’s part of the difficulty here.  We’re just lobbing accusations back and forth…in which a fact-based environment is almost impossible to maintain as long as the principals are willing to engage in the kind of rhetoric and lying that we have seen in this exchange of late.


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