There’s irony here, salt in the wound: The high point of trust in journalism, at 72 percent, came in 1976, as reporters held accountable leaders who had lied about everything from Vietnam to Watergate. Newspapers took their names as mission statements: Advocate. Inquirer. Tribune. Sentinel.
And there’s another layer of irony here: journalists’ turn to advocacy journalism to relive the Watergate glory days — the quest to find a new Watergate, and a Republican or conservative one at that — is why trust in media collapsed.
Journalism isn’t on the roll it thinks it is. Consider the Weinstein example. Yes, journalists broke that story last fall setting off a flood of other similar stories. But this does not bolster journalism’s credibility. As the story unfolded, the public learned that supposedly august outfits like the NYT had spiked investigative reports on Weinstein back during the Clinton Administration. (Weinstein was a big donor to approved causes, so political operatives leaned on those publications not to damage a golden goose like that.) So, whoopie, media is going after those stories now, which as you say is eroding trust in the institutions media exposes. But media’s past behavior merely confirms to the public that we can’t trust them, either.