An unprecedented level of distrust between reporters and politicians is hampering the ability of the press to carry out its First Amendment function to watch government, according to a former White House press secretary and journalist, Joe Lockhart.
"The level of distrust is unprecedented and it is very destructive," Lockhart told an audience of about 400 people on Saturday during a panel organized by the Massachusetts Foundation on the Humanities for a free, afternoon symposium, "No News is Bad News." Lockhart said that in his pre-White House days, as an editor with network TV, he found that while he might disagree personally and privately with them on issues, he generally liked most politicians as people. He said he no longer feels that way about all politicians, and he suspects politicans feel the same way about some media people. This lack of mutual admiration and trust is making it difficult for the media and politicians to connect.
Lockhart was part of a panel on political reporting moderated by Columbia University history professor and provost Alan Brinkley, and including panelists Todd Purdum, national editor and poltical correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, and Marcy Wheeler, a citizen journalist and blogger from Ann Arbor, Mich., who blogs at TheNextHurrah under the pseudonym "emptywheel" and is author of the book, "Anatomy of Deceit: How the bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy."
Purdum said the era of three major network newscasts views by most Americans and presided over by "three, white males" has given way to a stew of news with many more inputs, equal access to tools, more community and social networking. To listen to the full panel discussion, which took place Nov. 17 at Boston College, click on the carat on the left of the bar below. A downloadable MP3 podcast is also available.