It’s so unsettling to hear that people ruling our country, the individuals we elected to protect our rights and freedoms, lie. These lies are announced to media outlets that we established trust in, and eventually these lies become the only “truth” we know. What’s even worse is when those very media outlets that have published false information, neglect their duty to deliver the unbiased truth and refuse to replace that false information with corrected facts. With this deliberately compromised flow of information, society’s trust in democracy and media could continue to diminish
In my opinion, Glenn Greenwald embodies journalism. He is honest, aggressive, persistent and shrewd. His adversarial BBC interview was fun to watch as well as very eye opening in regards to the relationship between journalists and the government. Greenwald emphasizes in several of his responses how common it is that the government makes false statements to journalists and media in general. When asked about a police report that made some unreasonable claims about his partner, Greenwald reminded BBC host Kirsty Wark that simply because the government makes a claim, especially when they’re in the middle of a lawsuit while they’re being sued for violating the law, one should not go around assuming that claim to be factually true. Simply the fact in general of the government’s denial of mass surveillance even after Snowden’s reveal of NSA information, should trigger many people and make them question their trust to their very own government.
In his article for The Intercept, Greenwald builds on the topic of mistrust but this time focusing on the media outlets side which we instinctively expect to deliver the truth for us. Sometimes the facts initially presented could shortly after publication be proven false – it happens. In the words of Greenwald, “the minimal requirement for journalistic credibility and integrity is acknowledging and fixing mistakes.” (Greenwald) He refers directly to Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and Slate, some of the most credible and highly-recognized new outlets, for their blatant refusal to retract statements that have been disproven. Moreover, some of these outlets (intentionally) let the factually false information remain online and be recirculated for more people to see. This is “deliberate deceit, journalistic fraud.” (Greenwald) The acts of a few media institutions diminishes journalism’s credibility as a whole. Greenwald also touches on Trump’s Fake News debate that has proliferated over the last several months. Greenwald attributes the expansion of the idea of Fake News to the staggering level of existing distrust in the media, and that kind of makes sense.
“A vibrant and powerful fact-checking media is supposed to be one of the great safeguards against demagoguing authoritarians and assaults on democratic institutions. That only works if they earn the trust that they need to fulfill that function.” (Greenwald)
I have a newfound respect for journalism after learning about Glenn Greenwald and everything he has done to ensure that journalism serves its fundamental purpose as a check on the people in power. As a country that is founded on civil liberties, specifically freedom of press in this context, journalism is now more important than ever. Our country, our world in fact, is experiencing some crazy stuff right now and as an average citizen, learning that even media outlets (sources we rely on to tell us the lies of our government) can’t all be trusted either, makes me feel more uneasy than ever. In my opinion, we need more Glenn Greenwalds in this world ASAP.
(Disclaimer: I’m sure there are a plethora of amazing journalists out there that do with integrity their job of informing the democracy of what its government is doing – Glenn Greenwald is just the only one I’m somewhat familiar with.)
Glenn Greenwald Full Interview on Snowden, NSA, GCHQ and Spying – Newsnight. Perf. Kirsty Wark and Glenn Greenwald. BBC Newsnight. N.p., 3 Oct. 2013. Web.
Greenwald, Glenn. “Why Has Trust in Media Collapsed? Look at Actions of WSJ, Yahoo, Business Insider and Slate.” The Intercept. N.p., 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.