Breitbart News is “a site that I go to every day,” Fox News Channel’s Howard Kurtz said Wednesday on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight.
Kurtz joined Breitbart News’s Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak to discuss his new book, Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth. He offered broad analyses of the news media landscape across recent years, particularly during President Donald Trump’s political rise.
Pollak recalled the late Andrew Breitbart’s disdain for pretenses of political objectivity maintained by assorted news media figures and organizations, preferring transparency of political biases to faux airs of neutrality.
“Andrew Breitbart, the founder of our company, always believed that media companies did better when they wore their political allegiances or biases on their sleeves so that people could judge them honestly and with a sense of clarity about what they were trying to achieve,” said Pollak, inviting Kurtz to qualify Breitbart News’s political orientation. “Where do you see Breitbart News in the political and media ecosystem?”
“I knew Andrew Breitbart and had a lot of respect for him,” replied Kurtz. “I think Breitbart has really evolved and matured into a site that I go to every day. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything on it, but I feel like there are a lot of things there I want to read, and I think it’s very open about its opinions and points of view in a way that people can judge for themselves what to take of it.”
Pretenses of objectivity deployed by news media figures contribute to declining public trust in the news media industry, noted Mansour. She pointed to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published in July 2017 in which survey subjects were asked, “How much do you trust the media?” Thirty-one percent of respondents said, “Not very much.” Thirty-seven percent said, “Not at all.”
News media outlets could increase trust among Americans by dropping pretenses of neutrality and objectivity in exchange for forthrightness with their political biases, said Mansour.
“The media is just not upfront about their perspective,” said Mansour. “If they were just upfront about where they’re coming from, what their agenda is, their policy agenda – if they are right-of-center or left-of-center – I think that the public would be more forgiving. Pretending that they are neutral is what annoys a lot of people.”
The public’s decline of trust in the news media predates Trump’s political rise, noted Mansour, describing it as a long-term phenomenon. The news media’s “fawning coverage” of former President Barack Obama, said Mansour, “exposed the bias” of the industry to many Americans.
“I think the media is at an inflection point right now, and I don’t think it started with Trump,” said Mansour. “I think that this predates Trump. I think Trump has just pushed it over the edge a bit. I think it’s gone on for decades, but it really kicked into high gear with Obama because the media’s fawning coverage of Barack Obama and refusal to hold him accountable for a number of things really exposed their bias. It exposed that there was an agenda … and I think the opposite [manner] with which they approach Trump is an indication, again, that there’s so much bias and that the media is just not upfront about its agenda.”
CNN markets itself as a politically objective and non-partisan news media outlet, branding itself “The Most Trusted Name in News.” The New York Times and the Washington Post similarly market themselves as arbiters of truth and defenders of American democracy, respectively.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.