In Response to Media Mistakes, Carl Bernstein, David Frum Defend Errors While Slamming Trump


Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein and Atlantic senior editor David Frum on Sunday responded to a number of false media reports by slamming President Donald Trump for his attacks on the mainstream media and his "concealment" of the truth.

The two were speaking with CNN's Brian Stelter, who introduced the segment by reviewing the week's false news stories, which included an inaccurate report from ABC's Brian Ross and CNN's Manu Raju.

Stelter also mentioned Trump responded to the false stories by railing against the "fake news" media before asking Bernstein about the impact of the media's false reports.

The former Washington Post reporter said the inaccurate reports are most damaging because of the critical environment in which they're being made. He said the media does a "good job overall" of reporting on the Trump administration, especially compared to Trump's "record."

"Look, reporters, journalists make mistakes," Bernstein said. "Our record as journalists in covering this Trump story and the Russia story is pretty good, especially compared to the record of Donald Trump."

"You're saying ‘our record is pretty good,' but why would a Trump supporter believe that given this repetitive string of errors?" Stelter asked.

Bernstein argued consumers are not looking reasonably at how the media does its job.

"Well I don't think a Trump supporter would believe it. And I think there is a suspicion of belief and reasonable looking at how the media does its job on both sides," he said. "People are looking at what reinforces what they already believe instead of the best obtainable version of the truth."

"We have to get back to the notion, which is actually correct, that most of the media–the main steam media the big news institutions from the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal to CNN–really go out of their way to be accurate, factual, contextual. And we've done a pretty good job at it."

Bernstein again referred to the critical, "hothouse cold civil war" environment the media is facing, arguing it is the real problem.

"We are in a hothouse cold civil war atmosphere, and the press and attacking the press is the basic element that too many demagogues in our culture have used to whip up this cold civil war, and especially to appeal to the base of the President of the United States," Bernstein said.

Frum, a former speechwriter for then President George W. Bush, said the media's mistakes are why the public should trust the media.

"Mistakes are precisely the reason the people should trust the media … the process of piercing the lies to uncover the truth about the wrongdoing is inherently not only difficult, but adversarial," Frum said.

He went on to blame the president and supporters for producing a "system of lies."

"Meanwhile, from the president and his supporters, you hear a system of lies. So, they're not well placed to complain because the mistakes occur in the process of exposing the lies that the liars then complain about the mistakes," Frump said.

"Journalism is a process … unlike law enforcement, which investigates and produces conclusions at the end, journalists show their work as they go," Frum added. "They approximate the truth. They reach it. And in this case, they're reaching it not just because the truth is inherently difficult, but because they are confronting bad faith actors engaged actively in concealment in order to deprive the public of important knowledge of wrongdoing, financial, and national security.

Bernstein added those who side with Trump are especially lacking "open-mindedness" while the media focuses on getting facts right more than other industries.

Watch Stelter's intro summarizing recent media errors:

Jack Heretik

Jack Heretik   Email Jack | Full Bio | RSS
Jack is a Media Analyst for the Washington Free Beacon. He is from Northern Ohio and graduated from the Catholic University of America in 2011. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Jack was a Production Assistant for EWTN's The World Over and worked on Sen. Bill Cassidy's 2014 campaign.

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