Skip to comments.The Nasty Truth (PBS)
Posted on 04/16/2020 12:21:34 PM PDT by Drango
PBS NewsHour stands up to presidential diatribes and viewer complaints
A global pandemic demands tough questions from journalists. Amid the coronavirus crisis, journalist Yamiche Alcindor has delivered robust and sober reporting that some PBS NewsHour critics mistake as political bias.
On March 29th, in this Year of the Pandemic, the nation had ground to a halt. We were heeding orders and pleas to stay home and collectively disrupt deadly waves of COVID-19 infection. With the crisis deepening, President Donald Trump was on television, live, launching verbal salvos at the media. Once again, hed been set off by a hint of a probative question from Yamiche Alcindor of the PBS NewsHour:
Trump: "Why dont you act in a little more positive "
Alcindor: My question to you is
Trump: Its always getcha, getcha And you know what? Thats why nobody trusts the media anymore
Alcindor: My question to you is how is this going to impact
Trump: Excuse me. You didnt hear me. Thats why you used to work for the Times and now you work for someone else. Look, let me tell you something: Be nice
Alcindor: Mr. President, my question is
Trump: Dont be threatening. Be nice. Go ahead.
All this, in 30 seconds, just as Alcindor was ramping up to an important question about Trumps own, on the record, characterization of shortages of personal protective equipment reported by healthcare professionals around the country.
Such exchanges have become commonplace between Trump and Alcindor. And, as the pandemic intensifies, hes increasingly attacking other reporters who omit platitudes before they ask questions about life and death matters the nation must address with urgency and selflessness.
Its never been the job of journalists in the White House press corps to preface questions with nice praise for dear leaders. Thankfully, reporters have traditionally held little fear of presidents. Time and again White House correspondents have shined with aggressive questioning of chief executives. Some presidents deftly turned the art of the dodge into a spectator sport. Ronald Reagan classically feigned poor hearing when ABCs Sam Donaldson boomed Mr. President! ahead of a biting question.
Today, though, as thousands of Americans die each day and well more than a million human beings across the globe have been infected by the coronavirus, Trumps adverse reaction to inquisitive journalists is not at all amusing or charming.
A majority of NewsHour viewers agree. Dozens have recently written to me in support of Alcindor, whos currently Number One on the presidents nasty list.
In this national crisis, the NewsHour also has won praise for skipping live coverage of White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings, in which valuable public health and economic rescue information is too often supplanted by a political circus, complete with the presidents hawking miracle cures for COVID-19.
The NewsHour decided from the start not to televise the briefings. But that decision was actually more about saving broadcast resources for crisis newscasts that require the shows full attention and technology. (Still, live coverage of the briefings is easily found on some PBS stations sub-channels, or streamed live on YouTube or on social media. I can see the task force pressers cast live on my Facebook page, courtesy of northern Virginias WETA, home of the NewsHour.)
What the audience says
What has emerged as the shows real controversy, however, is Alcindor. We can brush off inexplicable presidential rants, but we cant ignore the ire of PBS viewers who believe shes too aggressive toward the president.
In the week that Trump once again chided Alcindor, 104 messages about the exchange came into the PBS Public Editors mailbox. Of those, 40 could be labeled against Alcindor.
Alcindor has long been a lightning rod, pushing NewsHour viewers to comment regularly (pro and con) since she rose to prominence in the White House press corps. Until now, I avoided writing about that chatter because it is not unusual for good journalists to attract abundant praise and disdain. Frankly, some emails have been poisoned by direct or implied racism aimed at Alcindor. Those notes end up in my computers trash bin.
The majority of emails, however, have been positive and civil. Here are a couple of examples:
Keep it respectful and you will change America! We all want honest, respectful, non-biased reporting. And thats coming from someone who voted for Trump! and may again, may not. But this war on the virus is really showing everyones true colors. And Yamiche shines like a hero when she stands up to the most powerful person on Earth and asks questions that need to be asked!Alex Kish, Rittman, Ohio
Please pass along my kudos to Yamiche Alcindor for her strong resolve when confronted by the belittling, and in my opinion derogatory, comments during her questioning of the president on March 30. Emmett Murphy, Buskirk, N.Y.
Detractors commonly feature complaints like these:
Why does the PBS reporter Alcindor have to be so negative and disrespectful to the president? We are ALL in a crisis. It is up to ALL of us to do our part. But why does this woman keep badgering and attempting to make the president look bad? Angelica Garcia, San Diego, Calif.
Why cant [Alcindor] ask productive questions instead of adversarial ones, during this time of intense crisis? People are dying by the score during these briefings, and instead of trying to extract important information to disseminate amongst victims and their families, she only shows interest in tripping the President up, or embarrassing him with questions that serve no public interest, and smack of tabloid sensationalism. Bob Cushman, Millis, Mass.
Is it bias, or analysis?
Angry viewers have pointed to PBS and NewsHour standards that call for journalists to be objective and avoid opinion. Against that measure, some say, Alcindor has a bias against the president.
But viewers should not conflate tough inquiry with bias. NewsHour journalists have a tradition of tough inquiry, and Alcindor is one the best practitioners. She has a responsibility to deliver straight-up accounts from the White House. But like many Washington, D.C., correspondents, Alcindor is also routinely asked to analyze events and issues, not just report them. Analysis requires honest assessment of different sides of an issue, in search of the argument that is most compelling or most truthful. Thats different from biased banter.
A review of some of Alcindors important NewsHour conversations does yield a bias against untrue White House statements.
When I cover [the White House COVID-19 press briefings] I try to add as much context and fact-checking as possible, Alcindor told NBC talk show host Seth Meyers last week.Covering President Trump, you have to have context, you have to tell people: heres what the facts are. Heres when hes wrong and when hes right.
Does Alcindor take it personally when Trump comes after her? I think the president wants an opponent. He wants a foil at all times, she said.
Eyes on the mission
The COVID-19 crisis has shown Alcindor and her editors at the NewsHour at the top of their games. A truism in journalism holds that you will never make everyone equally happy, regardless of how objective you try to appear. (In a given week, I see as many emails in our archives complaining of the NewsHours perceived liberal bias, as those asserting that PBS shills for major corporations, thereby serving a conservative, pro-business agenda, or at least giving it lip service.) Despite the pressure, Alcindor and the NewsHour remain committed to the work at hand.
Yamiche is a highly professional, talented reporter and we could not be more proud to have her as part of the PBS NewsHour, said Sara Just, the broadcasts executive producer. She is doing exactly what is expected of a free press in our democracy: posing timely, pertinent questions to those in power on behalf of the American people.
It is good that NewsHour viewers have strong opinions about the quality of its journalism, even if more than a few are negative. Besides, Yamiche Alcindor can take it. Run a search of Trump and Yamiche on YouTube and marvel at how she stands up to shocking verbal abuse heaped from behind the podium in the James Brady White House Press Briefing Room or in the Rose Garden.
Search results include the March 13 Rose Garden briefing at whichTrump accused Alcindor of asking a nasty question. You can decide for yourself whether Alcindor was behaving in an untoward fashion when she asked the president whether he took responsibility for disbanding the White House pandemic office, asking him to respond to officials comments that the White House lost valuable time in responding to the pandemic.
Constructive criticism from viewers like you is important. It holds broadcast editors, producers, anchors and reporters to account. And at a time when misinformation can be as dangerous as disinformation, Ill count on audiences to continue telling us if PBS journalists are getting it right.
Communist sympathizers. Same as always.
PBS———Public Bull Sh** !
Nasty - yes / truthful - not so much
What shortages were those?
Cuomo(D-NY) was demanding far more respirators than he ever needed. Now he admits it and is donating them to other countries. Wanted 30,000 needed 5,000.
media hates the spotlight of examination upon themselves.
Fact is 93-94% of journalists self-admitted/reported they vote democrat.
It’s enough right there to understand the us media. all you need to know. why they are so surprised about things, why ‘everyone they know’ thinks the same way, why they think they are all unbiased, everyone else has the peoblems.
Gotcha questions are not journalism.
They are political activism.
NPR is still on the air?
It was a PBS news babe who moderated one of the 2008 debates and she was poised with a book to come out on inauguration day all about Obamas campaign in the history of made. She had a personal profit motive As well as political agenda and seeing Obama win and she was the fair moderator? BS.
No, actually she’s just another angry black racist bitc$. And ugly too. Very ugly.
Lies by omission are still lies
And at a time when misinformation can be as dangerous as disinformation,
The Ministry of Propaganda does both and suppresses what is disfavored.
Can’t stand any of the harpies on PBS NewsHour.
Alcindor is a racist.
Alcindor asks questions that rational American adults, with families and property, do not care about.
Alcindor is a racist.
Alcindor is more concerned with scoring points with her virtual peers than she is with gathering valuable information for rational American adults.
Alcindor is a racist.
Shaming the audience/customer/taxpayer
We can brush off inexplicable presidential rants, but we cant ignore the ire of PBS viewers who believe shes too aggressive toward the president.
Recall the look of complete disbelief, disgust, and puzzlement on Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ face when Alcindor stated that “Some” where taking offense at his racist words.
Alcindor is a racist.
Yamiche Alcindor had already built the reputation as the female version of Jim Acosta.
PBS, truthfully ask yourself this: would Alcindor have asked those question that way to Obama? I think not...
“A majority of NewsHour viewers agree. Dozens have recently written to me...”
“104 messages about the exchange came into the PBS Public Editors mailbox. Of those, 40 could be labeled against Alcindor.”
That’s a pretty big percent of total viewers.
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