The recent flap over Diane Rehm’s inappropriate and improper question about Bernard Sanders dual citizenship is less about the interview and much more about what we deserve from the “Fourth Estate,” the institution of the free press.
In today’s fast paced twittering environment, things are released into cyberspace without regard for accuracy only for speed. It is more important to get the story out than to get the story right. Half-truths and lies permeate the environment and we have no way to know these from truth until eventually a correction or clarification reins in the rumor. Unfortunately that happens too long after sustained damage is done.
Diane Rehm should have known better. Someone of her caliber should have checked and verified sources and facts, she committed a faux pas of the first order. Ms. Rehm was embarrassed for doing her job so poorly in the public sphere and she did apologize. But we depend on stalwarts to do right by us. When they don’t, it means this new phase of “getting it first instead of getting it right” has permeated news and reporting in sad and unfortunate ways. We can no longer count on those whom we have traditionally counted on to be honest and straightforward in delivering news and reporting to us.
At some point I believe that our desire for truth and the mission to deliver truth will again align. Those who report the news and hold its truthful telling as a sacred mission will ultimately prevail. Ultimately they will because we need them to, and hopefully we will not settle for less.