Charlie Sykes is Half Right to Lament the Destruction of the Media's Credibility

Oliver Darcy of Business Insider interviewed prominent Wisconsin #NeverTrump radio host Charlie Sykes for a piece he is doing on conservative media. One particular quote, which won’t be in his full story in its entirety, has gotten a ton of attention. Here is what Charlie said:

 

Now, I definitely get what Charlie is saying. I would say that the primary blame here belongs to the media, who largely did this to themselves. If they hadn’t been detonated so often by conservatives who have exposed how often they shade facts, misquote people, report on subjects they don’t understand, and yes, demonstrate bias against conservatives.

Still, Charlie’s point is basically sound: conservatives have drastically overreacted in terms of how they deal with the media. The whole point of media criticism is to point out that the media is run by human beings, and like any other human beings, they make mistakes. When the media brings you a story that is hostile to a Republican or a conservative, you should be appropriately skeptical of their reporting, just like you would if anyone else told you a story you would be disinclined to believe.

But as in any other situation, you would believe that person if the story they presented was verified with enough independent facts – like videotape, documentary evidence, etc. And it would be incumbent on you to challenge that reporting and make your own determination on the facts, not just shut down any examination of a story because it comes from the New York Times and they always lie.

This is not what conservatives who have criticized the media stood for. When the alternative conservative media blew up the Dan Rather and the George W. Bush TANG story, they did so by painstakingly conducting an examination of the documents used by CBS, including by getting actual document experts involved. They didn’t just say, “PFFT. CBS. Obviously total BS otherwise it wouldn’t be on the LAMESTREAM MEDIA.”

The first approach convinces people. The second makes you sound like you are intellectually lazy, and also a whiner.

I don’t mind people having skepticism of literally everything the media says and does. I mind that “skepticism” has been replaced by a lazy slavishness to rejecting all information reported by the media that is no more defensible than slavish acceptance of everything the media says.

And that, I think is where the loss of the media’s credibility is a real problem.