By Manny Jacobson
Is trust important in life? Ask anyone and you will figure out that trust is an essential part of living our lives. Whether it’s trusting your childhood friends with keeping a secret or trusting that a politician that you elected to office will uphold their campaign promises. A key to a good working relationship involves trusting each other.
At one point in time (i.e. the 1960’s-1970’s) there was a cohesive relationship between the government and the media. They both trusted each other to get their respective jobs done and to work respectfully with each other.
Currently, it is safe to say that there is an unhealthy level of distrust between the media and current elected government officials. At one of the seminars today, Sharyl Attkisson mentioned that there is an increasing distrust by the various media outlets with the federal government. Today she seemed to focus her thoughts on the executive branch and the disaster at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi 2 years ago.
It seemed that most of her frustration with the Obama administration was the timeliness of facts being released as well as the accuracy of early reports released about the “terrorist” attack. The reason why terrorist is in quotes is because of the controversial comments coming out of the White House regarding whether the attack was terrorism or not.
According to Attkisson, her request for information, as well as those of other reporters, on certain topics from the White House are sometimes delayed. She went on to briefly mention multiple instances in which she had to have information but the other side dragged their feet and delayed or forced her to change her story on the fly.
Attkisson called for transparency from the White House.
As a science major, I’m a tad out of my wheelhouse. That being said, I find it quite difficult to see this as a black and white story with a clear division in the middle separating the 2 sides.
In most instances, I do not think as a journalist who wants to report the story now would think. Instead, I want to let the situation play out and form decisions at a later date once all information has been collected.
I’m not saying that the White House officials do not occasionally hang on to information too long, but I would rather them eventually release the information on their own accord than release inaccurate information prematurely.
As Queion Swift alluded to in tonight’s class meeting, maybe the White House was not sure what was going on so they could not tell the press the story. This leads the press to believe that the government is now hiding something and thus a new cover up story emerges.
In this instance he was talking about the Benghazi situation mentioned earlier. The “cover up” just happens to be whether or not the government knew about the attack ahead of time and purposely chose to not do anything in terms of security.
I have to say that I agree with him. Even though we are only 1 day into the 2nd week of the Inside Washington seminars, I’m beginning to notice that the relationship between the government and the media is similar to that of the inner workings of the federal government itself.
We have the government on one side of the aisle and the media on the other. In some cases they get along and work cohesively, but in others they are in gridlock. With the gridlock, nothing ever seems to be accomplished. It makes at least one side appear to be the bad guy in a lot of situations.
Using the Benghazi situation again, there is a gridlock present between the government and the media. Government will not release too much information yet about what happened and the media turns it around to make it appear the government is hiding something. Thus the gridlock.
Now, 2 years after the disaster, information is still being released slowly. The only difference is now the government is filtering the release of information beyond belief, through careful planning and redacting information. This is to prevent the media from linking things back to the original cover up story.
Who is right in the case of the Benghazi attack? We will find out when all of the information is released. In the meantime, I refuse to believe one side or the other. What I can hope is that both the government and media recognize the growing distrust and do something to regain the cohesiveness and trust.