Ben Tullis: Watergate taught us that a free press is still vital to America

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  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    June 23, 2017 6:18 p.m.

    Alright, Mr. Tullis, it's been a week. We have waited long enough. It is time to get reporting on today's Watergate, namely, Hillary Clinton's email scandal.

    Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced a probe of Loretta Lynch. This has been reported in many news outlets (Google it) including ABC News, USA Today, and even However, a search of the Deseret News finds only an article from Jul 12, 2016, almost a year ago.

    Here is the Deseret News' opportunity to demonstrate the value of a free press, as you outlined in your editorial. We are waiting.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 19, 2017 10:30 p.m.

    @ Vermonter

    "I guess (like most people) I tend to acknowledge information that confirms my worldview..."

    Agreed. We all do it. It's human nature.

    "...reputable sources show..."

    Yes, I think the research clearly shows that people of a liberal bent are more likely to be drawn to a career in journalism. But I don't think you can argue that the conservative view is under-represented in the field as a whole. For every outlet with a liberal POV, there's one with a conservative POV.

    "...Democrats...seemed much more willing to...facilitate a President Hillary Clinton agenda than...Republicans [seemed] willing to work with a President Trump agenda."

    Of course. Trump isn't a Republican and neither is some of his agenda. Not the case with HC. So put DJT in a lifelong Republican's shoes and IMO we would've seen what we did on the Dem side.

    I felt sad as I voted against Trump (and thus for HC). I didn’t want HC to have the distinction of being the first female POTUS. But IMO Trump was clearly unfit for and unworthy of the job. IMO he proves this with nearly every tweet.

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    June 19, 2017 3:30 p.m.

    I disagree, we do not have freedom of the press in America. The MSM has become a one sided (90+%) unelected, unaccountable liberal Group with an agenda to attack Trump 24/7, to remove him from office and eliminate our liberty, freedom, and independence. They embrace the "we know better than you" attitude, trying to force government control into every aspect of our lives. They are the the true danger to our countries existence. Talk radio, outlets and, internet sites have broken exposed and removed the MSM's propaganda stranglehold and monopoly of the news. They are mad and have declared "War" on anything and everything conservative. Unfortunately for them, we understand, they have been exposed.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    June 19, 2017 12:09 p.m.

    @Karen R. (continued)
    One other concept that influenced my vote for Trump is the idea that, at least for some in Washington, HRC and her husband are the ultimate insiders who know how to pull the levers of power much better than Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Trump is, of course, the most "outside" outsider Washington has ever seen in my lifetime. You could say Reagan was an outsider. But, Reagan had a genial and respectful way of working with people that is totally lost on Donald Trump.

    Additionally, rank-and-file Democrats in Congress seemed much more willing to work with and facilitate a President Hillary Clinton agenda than rank-and file Republicans in Congress willing to work with a President Trump agenda. While many congressional Democrats were downright giddy at the prospect of an HRC presidency, many of the most powerful Republicans in Congress had the temerity to publically express their disdain and disgust with Donald Trump prior to November 8.

    Anyway, that's how I am thinking right now. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, too, and I would love to hear your response to my last 2 posts, if you can spare the time.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    June 19, 2017 11:55 a.m.

    @Karen R.
    I appreciate the points you made. You've made me think deeper than I usually do. My overall sense of what I think is best for America has not changed. But, you reminded me that things are not always as black-and-white as I would like. I guess (like most people) I tend to acknowledge information that confirms my worldview, and I tend to discount information that conflicts with my worldview.

    Mainstream ("old school") media may not be as liberal as I imagine them to be. But, reputable sources show that around 28% of MSM journalists are registered Democrats, while 7% are registered Republicans, with remainder being independent or some other party affiliation. As much as dedicated beat reporters try to keep bias out of their work, it does come through to one degree or another because they more easily latch onto information that confirms their worldview. And the more ethically-challenged reporters don't try to mask their bias much if at all.

    Since I believe that Trump and HRC are fairly equally ethically-challenged, I'm still happy with Trump getting elected because fewer MSM journalists are willing to give him a pass.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 19, 2017 7:46 a.m.

    @ Vermonter

    "I do think liberal thought is overrepresented in the 'old school' media..."

    And conservative thought is over-represented in conservative media. To be expected. But my question was, do you believe the conservative view is under-represented in the media as a whole. IMO, this is what the "MSM" tag implies and I don't see the case for this.

    "As for Hillary, she got her biggest pass last year when Comey..."

    Comey isn't the media.

    So she wasn't charged with a crime, but she was held accountable, wasn't she? She isn't the President. That took disaffected left-leaners staying home, voting 3rd party, or even voting for Trump to make that happen, right? How did they get to be disaffected if news of HC's behavior wasn't getting reported in the "MSM" outlets, the outlets they presumably would prefer?

    HC didn't get vilified in left-leaning outlets like she did in right-leaning ones, but her behavior and that of her cronies WAS reported. And the evidence shows that it was clear-eyed enough to do her damage. I can only hope the same happens to Trump.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 18, 2017 7:41 a.m.

    "Watergate has taught us that a free press is still vital to America".

    It didn't teach all of us. Ted Kopel has come out in favor of government licencing of journalists.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    June 18, 2017 2:29 a.m.

    @Karen R.
    I too, always appreciate the sincere, civil dialogue we have. I'll attempt to explain my thoughts a little more.

    I do think liberal thought is overrepresented in the "old school" media--i.e. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post. "New" media (internet, social media) is more evenly split. But reliable, non-biased sources are much fewer and harder to identify in "new" media.

    As for Bill and Hillary getting passes for past misdeeds, the first pass was impeachment. The "old school" media of that time wanted it to define the issue as merely an affair. But underneath all the noise, Bill lied under oath to a grand jury.

    As for Hillary, she got her biggest pass last year when Comey identified in detail actionable evidence of criminal activity, but refused to recommend prosecution since she did not, in his opinion, intend to do it.

    As for Trump, the "old school" media will never, ever give him a pass as long as he is president. And I am glad.

    I hope this clarifies my thinking.

  • Bill Pekny Midway, UT
    June 17, 2017 5:10 p.m.

    Well stated, Ben!

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 17, 2017 8:40 a.m.

    @ Vermonter

    "Over the past 20 years, the 'free press' (at least the 'mainstream' part of it) has shown a distinct preference for letting Bill and Hillary Clinton off the hook..."

    And over those same 20 years, the conservative press has shown a distinct preference for not doing so, right? So what is the complaint? To my ears, when "mainstream press" is invoked, it's meant to suggest, "My side is under-represented or at a disadvantage in some way." Is this what you mean? If so, what is your case for this being true? If you mean something else, can you please explain further? I'm always interested in your point of view.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 17, 2017 8:06 a.m.

    The trump administration is clearly willing to do things they'd rather we not know about. I'm glad the press is there to hold them accountable.

  • Lone Eagle Aurora, CO
    June 17, 2017 7:55 a.m.

    But we don't have a truly free (i.e., independent) press today. From the New York Times (the reported newspaper of record for the US on), most of today's newspapers are like sharks smelling blood for Trump. The damage to newspaper credibility is big; even to the Deseret News (by association).

    In a very real way, that damage to news reporting credibility is why this reader no longer believes the presentation of most news stories, including international ones. The (hard) left bias and the amazing numbers of stories that are opinions masquerading as new has left me saddened.

    What's more is that the liberal left seems bent on silencing dissent. Those who disagree with the "talking points" seem to be labeled with unsavory epithets.

    We don't have a "free" press any longer, and I feel it will take a very long time for that sentiment to change.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    June 17, 2017 6:36 a.m.

    One of the phenomena that grips me and pains me greatly is the claim by Conservatives that the mainstream media is biased.

    Since Nixon, and continuing on, the Conservative monied interests have set up and established a alternative "news" outlets. Fox, Limbaugh and Breitbart to name a few. Most of these so-called news outlets are little more than opinion outlets that don't really deal in hard news. They deal in outrage.

    Sadly most Conservatives don't even know what news is anymore. News is fact unadulterated by commentary. And a proper journalist reports facts, and prints corrections when needed. Good news goes after the rich and the powerful when these folks abuse their already lofty positons of authority. And good journalism reports only that which may be verified and substantiated. Rumor has no place in news.

    None of the above mentioned characteristics are displayed by the Right wing press. And sadly, a great many folks believe that mainstream media is out to fool them. Yet it is the Right Wing Media that is guilty of fooling the public with opinion (not news), protecting the powerful and passing off gossip as fact.

    Sad, sad, sad. This is how we lose democracy.

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    June 17, 2017 12:57 a.m.

    "Yes, certain events that happened during President Barack Obama’s terms of office, including the Fast and Furious scandal and the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, deserved more investigating and coverage from the media."

    If you really believe that, Mr. Tullis, start right now. Demonstrate that those are not the words of a charlatan, a serial abuser of the public trust. Let's see the stories about Fast & Furious, IRS Targeting, ObamaCare lies, Benghazi lies, Clinton email lies, Clinton sexual assaults, and last but certainly not least, the concocted narrative about President Trump's Russian collusion, fascism, and dictatorship allowed to sully the reputation of this venerable institution.

    Members of President Obama's government should have been investigated, prosecuted, and likely incarcerated. Instead, the press, including the Deseret News, protected them; kept their dark deeds in the shadows. That ought to be a source of guilt and shame, the purpose of which is to motivate corrective action.

    Speak the truth boldly without partisanship. You have years of catching up to do.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 16, 2017 6:45 p.m.

    When a newspaper controls what is published and whose voice is heard, it's not at all surprising that if you're not part of the "rah-rah" crowd, you're denied a voice. Is that what journalism is all about? Is that what I learned as a journalism student at BYU? I'm afraid not. We were told to write the truth regardless of the consequences.

    Dan Rather's assaulted us about Bush and the Air National Guard, a story that cost Rather his job. Brian Williams assaulted us with his account of being under fire in near-enemy territory, a story that cost him his job. But, we're expected to shout "hooray for the news reporters".

    Take a hard look at the front page stories for the last six months. Look at how many of those stories used anonymous sources to link Trump to some misdeed. Look at Comey's testimony before the Senate and see who "deep throat" was. Now look long and hard for retractions. There aren't any, but the media wants us to stand up and cheer them.

    It takes a life-time to gain trust and only a single false story to destroy that trust.

  • Utah Girl Chronicles Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 16, 2017 5:06 p.m.

    @ Vermonter

    ""We believe in freedom of speech! Except Hate speech, of course! Who could possibly want hate speech? And what is hate speech? Why, Speech we, the left, hate! Ban every voice that disagrees with us now and embrace true tolerance, where only one point of view--our view-- is allowed!"

    Keep in mind Kathy Griffin was universally condemned last week and rightfully so. Also Bill Maher the week before that. Both also apologized.

    There's nothing wrong with tolerance.

  • JLindow St George, UT
    June 16, 2017 4:47 p.m.

    The free press is not a monolith. One aspect of a free press is having different competing news organizations.

    For people who like their news leaning a little left, there's organizations like the New York Times.

    For people who like their news leaning a little to the right, there's organizations like the Wall Street Journal.

    For people on the far right who wish to have their prejudices reaffirmed while they bask in adulation for their dear leader and hatred for minorities and liberals, there's organizations like Breitbart.

    There's something for everyone.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    June 16, 2017 4:22 p.m.

    Remember, Pravda was threatened with torture and death if they didn't toe the Communist party line.

    Our media people happily volunteer to lie on behalf of Democrats and the state. And this paper is no exception. It should be an exception, but it isn't.

    Remember, it goes like this: Liberals say "We believe in freedom of speech! Except Hate speech, of course! Who could possibly want hate speech? And what is hate speech? Why, Speech we, the left, hate! Ban every voice that disagrees with us now and embrace true tolerance, where only one point of view--our view-- is allowed!"

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 16, 2017 4:02 p.m.

    In theory a "free press" is great. In practice, it has become a nearly unanimous propaganda chorus where partisan leftist ideology formerly restricted to editorial pages now fills the paper or broadcast instead of factual reporting.

    The decimation of local reporting has limited the ability to report local news, and the reliance on notoriously biased sourced like the Associated Press and New York Times for national or international stories means that virtually every paper sings from the same script. Omitting or twisting much of the truth in the process.

    No wonder that the circulation of every major paper is steadily declining. And, that the actual number of pages in a paper (as well as the size of the sheet of paper itself) is getting smaller and smaller.

    In these days of easy availability of all sources of news it is much clearer how biased the "lamestream" media really is, and their propensity to spread "fake news" to support their agenda.

    If not for a 60 year habit of reading the paper, and the need for fish wrap and puppy training supplies I would drop my subscription to this paper too.

  • Utah Girl Chronicles Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 16, 2017 3:24 p.m.

    @ Vermonter

    "But, every day that the press attacks Trump proves that I made the right choice."

    The wall is not being built and the Dreamers are being allowed to stay.

    The media is reporting that. Those were Trump campaign promises. Most people can do the math; except, of course, for those people who consider reporting facts as "media attacks".

  • Utah Girl Chronicles Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 16, 2017 3:13 p.m.

    Interesting how if not for a New York Times article, Trump would have never fired Paul Manafort.

    Similarly, Trump would have never fired Michael Flynn were it not for a Washington Post article.

    Two bad apples no longer poisoning government. Can the media get rid of one more bad apple?

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    June 16, 2017 3:05 p.m.

    This is exactly why I (and probably quite a few others) voted for Donald Trump.

    Over the past 20 years, the "free press" (at least the "mainstream" part of it) has shown a distinct preference for letting Bill and Hillary Clinton off the hook--of not holding them accountable and responsible for their mistakes, misdeeds and even illegal behavior.

    I rightly believed that the press would tenaciously (and somewhat unethically) hold Donald Trump accountable.

    I (and probably many many others) was worried that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were highly ethically and morally challenged. I hated to make such a choice between Trump and Hillary. But, every day that the press attacks Trump proves that I made the right choice.

  • worf McAllen, TX
    June 16, 2017 3:04 p.m.

    Free press! Yes.

    Lying press! No.

    Right or wrong. Good or bad. The press control public opinion.