Katie Couric Ponders Why the Media Has Lost Trust at Aspen Ideas Festival

Couric still facing $12 million defamation lawsuit over deceptive editing

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Katie Couric, who still faces a $12 million defamation suit stemming from deceptive editing in a documentary she produced last year, moderated a panel on Wednesday that discussed why the public does not trust the media as much as it used to.

The panel, hosted by the Aspen Ideas Festival, featured editors from CNBC, the Atlantic, Time, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. The panel focused mostly on President Trump's disputes with the media, fake news, and how the media could regain lost credibility.

"We have a great panel to talk about really restoring trust in the Fourth Amendment," Couric said introducing the panel, possibly confusing the Fourth Amendment and the Fourth Estate (a common moniker for the news media) since none of the discussion was focused on unreasonable search and seizures. "Since this title is about restoring trust and less than 40 percent of the country says the media can be trusted most of the time, I'd like to go down the line and ask each of you to briefly explain how we got to this place."

The panel offered a variety of answers but none mentioned the deceptive editing contained in Couric's 2016 documentary Under the Gun. In that film, nine seconds of silence were inserted into one scene which gave the impression that a group of pro-gun activists were unable to answer a question posed by Couric. Raw audio of the interview obtained by the Washington Free Beacon last May shows that the activists immediately provided several answers to Couric's questions.

Couric's 2014 documentary Fed Up was also accused of using deceptive editing in its production as well.

The topic of Couric's deceptive editing and the $12 million defamation lawsuit stemming from that editing was not addressed by anyone during the 41-minute conversation. Instead, the conversation mostly surrounded President Trump's effect on trust in the news media. At one point, Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg said he was concerned that Trump's anti-media rhetoric would lead toward violence against reporters.

"Someone is going to do something violent against journalists in a large way and then I know where the fault lies and we're heading in this direction and it's quite frightening," Goldberg said.

"But, in a less dramatic way, what about just the erosion of credibility and believability and people feeling like they can trust in any way, shape, or form the newspapers they're reading?" Couric responded.

At another point, Couric asked about the rise of partisan outlets in recent years. She said a friend had said to her that people today are "seeking affirmation, not information."

"How do you restore trust in the media writ large if people are so divided about which media outlets are actually fair and accurate," she asked.

"Is objectivity, true objectivity, in some cases, not as desirable as it once was," Couric asked in a follow up question.

Couric returned to the topic of objectivity later when the conversation turned to covering the Trump administration. "Is objectivity possible when you're covering a president as unconventional as Donald Trump," she asked.

Aspen Ideas Festival describes itself as a place where "big thinkers and doers engage in serious ideas about their work, our world, and the future."

Stephen Gutowski   Email Stephen | Full Bio | RSS
Stephen Gutowski is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He founded his own site as a junior in college and has been writing about news and politics since that time. He spent 4 years with the Media Research Center and was most recently with the Capitol City Project. His email address is Gutowski@FreeBeacon.com. His twitter handle is @StephenGutowski.

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