Professional journalists are notorious for their preternatural levels of self-regard. They are, for example, supremely confident in their ability to accurately report on the most important stories of the day. Members of the public are far more skeptical, according to the results of a recently published Pew survey.
Roughly two-thirds of journalists said news organizations do a good job of "covering the most important stories of the day" and "reporting the news accurately," the survey found. Normal, well-adjusted Americans disagreed. Just 41 percent of non-media respondents said professional journalists do a good job of covering the most important stories. Just 35 percent said journalists do a good job of reporting the news accurately.
Asked whether professional journalists do a good job "serving as a watchdog over elected leaders," a majority of journalists (52 percent) said yes, compared with just 29 percent of the general public. Additionally, journalists gave themselves fairly good ratings when it comes to "giving voice to the underrepresented" (46 percent) and "managing or correcting misinformation" (43 percent). Just one in four Americans agreed.
Not surprisingly, journalists were far more likely to describe themselves as "extremely or very connected with their audiences" than the actual members of those audiences. Nearly half of journalists (46 percent) said they felt connected to their readers and viewers. Just 26 percent of readers and viewers said they felt a connection to the media outlets where they get their news.
CNN's Brian Stelter, a journalist who covers the media, has expressed dismay over the results of similar surveys that reveal widespread public distrust of the journalism industry. He routinely defends his network's coverage of the "most important stories of the day," which during the Trump administration included segments on Donald Trump's Diet Coke consumption as well as an extensive analysis of the then-president's spelling errors on social media. CNN helped bolster the reputations of convicted felon Michael Avenatti as well as disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.), whose downfall ultimately led to the ousting of former CNN president Jeff Zucker and former CNN host Chris Cuomo.
Days after his segment bemoaning the lack of public trust in the media, Stelter downed champagne and caviar at a "splashy" HBO premiere in New York City. "Everyone will have different moments that feel like life is returning to a pre-COVID normal, and this night was one of those moments for me," the relatable journalist wrote.
Stelter may be on the chopping block for being a partisan hack, but he is hardly the only prominent figure at CNN who is unable or unwilling to accept that most Americans don't love journalists as much as journalists love themselves. Earlier this year, the network persisted in launching CNN+ to great fanfare. Alas, the premier streaming service was scrapped three weeks later due to a lack of interest.
In addition to the aforementioned failures, CNN is perhaps best known for refusing to fire Jeffrey Toobin, the senior legal analyst who was caught masturbating on a Zoom call with colleagues. "I didn't think other people could see," he explained upon his return to the network last year. Toobin continues to appear on CNN to analyze legal topics such as the Supreme Court's impending ruling that could overturn the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. He has expressed concern, for example, that the High Court could take away his ability to bribe his much younger mistress to terminate her pregnancy.
Maybe—just maybe—the American people have good reason to think professional journalists are full of crap.