June 25, 2003

Cynicism vs. Skepticism in the Media

Hillsdale College

Brit Hume, who should know, has some insightful things to say about the mindset of media professionals in the United States today. His speech, "The American Media in Wartime," confirms what many already have observed, but coming from an insider it is all the more relevant.

Ted Koppel, one of the finest journalists of our generation, said something the other day that quite astonished me. Ted was an embedded reporter in Iraq, and after he came home he had this fascinating conversation – at Harvard, I believe – with Marvin Kalb. He spoke with real generosity about the American officers and enlisted men that he dealt with, and how able they were and how good they were and how effective they were. But he went out of his way to make a point of distinguishing between them and the policy makers in Washington. About the latter he said, “I’m very cynical, and I remain very cynical, about the reasons for getting into this war.”

Cynical? We journalists pride ourselves, and properly so, on being skeptical. That’s our job. But I have always thought a cynic is a bad thing to be. A cynic, as I understand the term, means someone who interprets others’ actions as coming from the worst motives. It’s a knee-jerk way of thinking. A cynic, it is said, understands the price of everything and the value of nothing. So I don’t understand why Ted Koppel would say with such pride and ferocity – he said it more than once – that he is a cynic. But I think he speaks for many in the media, and I think it’s a very deep problem."

Link thanks to Donald Sensing

Posted by Vanderleun at June 25, 2003 7:52 AM
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