Answers For Americans
asks Fullon Lewis. ,)r
How Accurate Is America's News?
Debating this challenging question along with topflight Commentator Lewis are New York University
Professor Charles Hodges, Author William Buckley, Jr., and George Hamilton Combs, noted commentator.
Moderator, Hardy Burt.
BURT: Does personal editorial opinion
often influence the supposedly objective
stories of newspaper and radio reporters?
Lewis: The answer to that is what
you call "editorial opinion." If you
mean editorial opinion on the part of
the editor, in some cases thai is line.
The editorial polity of the newspaper,
for example, very frequently influences
the manner in which a story is written.
If vou mean editorial opinion on the
[.ail of the w riter yes. that enters in all
We might as w.'ll. as far as I'm concerned, 'jet this off lo a straight start.
Objective reporting is nonexistent, 'lhe
nearest thing to objective reporting, lei -
face it. is ihe Congressional Record, and
lhat isn't even objective because ils
within the power of the reporter lo interject applause here and there.
CoMBS: I Ihink personal editorial
opinion often does influence supposed!)
objective new- anil radio stories as w
Democrats have sadly learned inasmuch
eis wi' face a preponderate^, in fact almost an exclusively, Republican press.
LEWIS: Oh, that breaks mi heart!
( jimus: I see a greal mam eeiscs of it.
and I should suggest, however, that the'
distortion, if there' he such, lies not so
much in the subjectivity of the reporting as it does in the selection of subject matter and in the decision to run
certain stories and piety down or ignore
Now I do believe that the avi
reporter, eet least on a responsible newspaper, makes every effort as do. I'm
sine, responsible news commentators
to chronicle the- fae'ls with eeimplele and
Lewis: I question that
Combs: Ih- -ecks to gel awa) from,
let us say, subjectivity of utterance or
from distortion or bias coming from his
ee\v 11 prejudice.
BUCKLEYI I conclude lhal scry often
persona] editorial opinion Influences th-'
supposedly objective stories of newspaper and radio reporters, particularly
in New "link. I sen "particularly in New
^ ork" because I read lln' New York
puss, and I don't see ihe other press
I think unfortunately il is a trademark primarily of the left. Thai is ie>
seey. I believe lhal there is consistently
more distortion in lhe papers of the left
than there is in papers of lhe right.
Let me give you an example in New
York. Take the New York Post against
the New Yuri: Daily News—the New
York Daily News is a- pronouncedly on
the right as the New ) orl; Post is on the
left, hui the' New York Daily News docs
nol tamper with the news it goes in
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for tendentious reporting, ll doesn't try
lo persuade you that tin- enemy is exclusively communistic in anything ex-
cepl the editorial page itself. Thai is I"
say, eill of the news stories are straight
In lhe New York Post, on lhe other
hand, it's a bit of nonobjectiv e anil distorted reporting from cover to cover-
Even in the sports stories sometimes
they manage lo get in ;[ crack ;il McCarthy, for example.
Combs: That's a laudable purpose.
lit CKLE1 : "t es. lhal excuses il!
Hodces: I think we jusl have to accept the fact lhal news is stuff alio"1
human beings, reported by human hi"
ings, and read b) human beings. And
you have to be selective, there's no question about it. > on can be honest in the
wa) in which you try to give a rounded
i d like tee sa) one word, however,
aboul the «ire services because I think
they're tremendously important in ll"'
whol.' picture. I do believe they try '''
give us a basis of objective reportinf!
because of the nature of their clientele
which jumps ,),, them.
Ii wis: I think the Professor is very<
very trusting when il comes to the «"''
sen ices. | watch them den- in and da)
out, and I can tell him otherw ise.
BURT: The nut of this is not whether H*
reporting is objective from the standpoint «
the reporter trying to be objective, but do*
he often deliberately slant the news to •'
COMBS: I Ihink only on some '"'""',
papers. I believe that by generalit) ''''
FACTS FORUM NEWS, April, '"'''