Opinion Journalism holds power accountable
If Winfrey runs, CBS News faces potential conflict
In an odd twist, fellow hosts of "CBS This Morning" turned to their colleague Gayle King — famous friend of Oprah Winfrey — for an interview Tuesday about whether her pal would run for president.If a Winfrey candidacy moves beyond idle chatter, one of the leading figures on a CBS News show that prides itself on hard-nosed journalism would have a conflict of interest on a major story.King attended the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday and said on "CBS This Morning" that she spent severalPASADENA, Calif. — In an odd twist, fellow hosts of "CBS This Morning" turned to their colleague Gayle King — famous friend of Oprah Winfrey — for an interview Tuesday about whether her pal would run for president.
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I was wrong.
Years ago, people used to ask me what journalists should do to combat the nation's drift toward "factish" and "truthy" logic. What was needed, I'd reply with misplaced confidence, is robust fact-checking. If news media were more aggressive in calling people out for lying, I predicted, they'd be less likely to do so with impunity.
Pink pussyhats: Why some activists are ditching them
When marchers take to the streets Jan. 20 and 21 in cities from Lansing, Mich., to Las Vegas, there could be fewer pink pussyhats in the crowds. The reason: The sentiment that the pink pussyhat excludes and is offensive to transgender women and gender non-binary people who don't have typical female genitalia and to women of color because their genitals are more likely to be brown than pink.
Well, in the years since I prescribed that remedy, Snopes and PolitiFact have come of age, and newspapers and TV news outlets have beefed up their fact-checking operations. Indeed, fact-checking has become a minor industry.
And it hasn't helped.
To the contrary, politicians and partisans are more likely than ever to cry "Fake news!" whenever truth hurts their feelings or facts puncture their fantasies. And if fact-checking has become a minor industry, so has conspiracy theorizing, as bizarre fantasies about pizza parlor child molestation rings, "hoax" shootings and the so-called "deep state" infest our political discourse, making some people famous and others, stupid.
So when a journalist asked that same question last week, I demurred. All we can do, I said, is our jobs.
Harman extends good play in Hawaii and takes Sony Open lead
Brian Harman's game stayed with him from one island to the next in Hawaii as he made eagle on his last hole for a 7-under 63 and the early lead in the Sony Open.Harman played in the final group at Kapalua last week and tied for third in a final round in which no one had much of a chance against Dustin Johnson. On a far different course at Waialae, he had another stretch of three straight birdies in Friday's second round and closed with a 7-iron to 15 feet for eagle on the par-5 ninth.RELATED: LeaderboardHarman was at 13-under 127, three shots ahead of Zach Johnson (67), John Peterson (64) and Tom Hoge (65).
That being the case, Steven Spielberg's latest movie arrives not a minute too soon, providing as it does a timely reminder of just what that job entails. "The Post," which went into wide release Friday, is a tour de force about the 1971 standoff between The Washington Post and the federal government over publication of The Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents proving the government lied as it led the nation deeper into the fatal quagmire of Vietnam.
The decision by Post publisher and neophyte businesswoman Katharine Graham to put her newspaper and, conceivably, her freedom, at risk by going up against the Nixon White House is rightly regarded as a feminist coming of age. But it is also a journalistic watershed. In battling Nixon all the way to the Supreme Court with everything at stake, the Post embodied the sheer guts it sometimes takes simply to report the truth.
Of course, 1971 was a long time ago, a point Spielberg makes by lingering lovingly on typewriters, rotary dials, linotype machines and other artifacts of the pre-digital newsroom. We see people gazing enraptured at their newspapers the way they do their smartphones today.
False alarm on missile creates uneasy moment at Sony Open
Charles Howell III was eating breakfast in his hotel when the restaurant at the Kahala started buzzing . Everyone had their phones. Everyone received the same push alert."BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.""All the alarms went off at the same time," Howell said. "It got everyone's attention. I didn't know what to do. We all stared at each other. It kind of shows you the world we live in now. Your whole life can change in a second."RELATED: LeaderboardThe push alert turned out to be a mistake.
It is a not-subtle reminder that things were different then. Yet, the movie also offers a rousing, timely reminder that for all that's changed, one thing cannot: journalism's mission must always be to hold power accountable.
So yes, all we can do is our jobs.
Frankly, I was initially dissatisfied with that answer. I was disappointed I wasn't able to offer some innovative strategy to turn back the tide of factishness and truthiness. Then it occurred to me: That's not journalism's responsibility.
No, our responsibility is to provide information, not to enforce the proper use thereof. I'm reminded of the old adage about leading horses to water. I'm also reminded of the motto of the Scripps company, which started life as a newspaper publisher: "Give light, and the people will find their own way."
We in journalism have, I submit, fulfilled our part of that bargain, doggedly if imperfectly. The question that will define the future is whether "the people" will fulfill theirs or whether they will choose to believe, as too many too often do, that partisan resentments justify factual apostasy. That's something they must decide. It's not journalists' call to make.
In 2018, as it was in 1971, our job is to find the courage to report the truth.
It's up to the people to find the courage to hear it.
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at.
Pope warns against 'fake news' and likens it to 'crafty serpent' in Genesis .
Pope Francis released a message condemning "fake news," saying that it's a "sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred."The Vatican says the message is part of the Pope's World Communications Day, but some at St. Peter's Square say the Pope was probably sending a message to Donald Trump and other world leaders who have been using the phrase "fake news.
The Holt Lecture: Journalism, Accountability, Power
Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Washington Post. He previously served as the President and COO of Allbritton Communications Company and Founding CEO and...
How Jorge Ramos holds politicians accountable
Jorge Ramos, an anchor on Univision and Fusion, tells Brian Stelter that his point-of-view journalism is part of a 'long tradition' dating back to the days of Walter Cronkite.