The Ed Show | February 21, 2013
>> absolutely not. any suggestion to the otherwise -- to the contrary might have been found to the minutes of the meetings of the friends of hamts.
>> white house press secretary jay carney poking fun at the latest right-wing fever dream earlier today. last night we told you about how the conservative website breitbart.com reported that chuck hagel may have financial ties to a group called friends of hamas. we've got a problem here, folks. friends of hamas does not exist, and the story is bogus. yet the folks at breitbart are not only sticking to the report, they're attacking anyone who even questions it. this is the way conservative media operates these days in the business world. worse yet, instead of throwing water on these baseless stories, elected officials are fueling the fire by responding to them. senator rand paul said he found hagel 's possible tied to a non-existent group concerning. and earlier this week senator lindsey graham of south carolina demanded that hagel respond to a rumor about him published by another right-wing blog. in both cases the claims had absolutely no merit. yet pushing these stories helped the right-wing media and republican lawmakers further their agenda. smear hagel and undermine ultimately president obama . "the new yorker" weighed in on this troubling development earlier and they wrote, "at its best reporting is like science. you form a hypothesis and you try to prove it. but more importantly, you shoot it full of holes to see if any of the wounds are fatal. this unfortunately is a lesson that a certain part of the conservative media doesn't seem to have learned yet." i'm joined tonight by the famous dan rather , anchor and managing editor of " dan rather reports" on axs tv. i'm honored. thank you for being here.
>> thank you very much. it's good to be here.
>> what are we seeing evolve in the information age in america when it comes to reporting and sourcing?
>> well, good reporting and sourcing is in steep decline, and that leaves communications about american politics . keep in mind that we now have the new internet. together with traditional american journalism. it remains so susceptible to manipulation, deception, and distraction that it allows lies to get started and then spread like mildew in a damp basement. it has a feed loop. the feed loop generally goes internet to cable, cable to mainstream television. the next day the newspapers and the feed loop just keeps going. and if you're organized well enough, if you have enough time to pour it in, you can frame a person or a policy on complete lies but win the battle of public opinion because the situation exists.
>> i'm amazed that there are lawmakers that take erroneous information almost and treat it as gospel and put it right into the news cycle. where there's responsibility in all this?
>> well, obviously, they have none. i'm even more amazed at american journalism. i don't exempt myself from this criticism. we've all kind of fallen into it, some more than others. but it's one thing for politicians to do this. for their own ideological partisan political or personal gain. it's another thing for those of us in the news and american news, which one's was the gold standard for the world, because we had reporters, if you told a reporter something was a lie, he found it out because he wore out shoe leather, he made telephone calls, his organization had other reporters who would check it out, and they've exposed the lie. there's very little of that now. it's left only in a few, few places.
>> are the days of having three sources on a story gone?
>> gone with the wind.
>> and how do we correct that in universities in america? i mean, this is an educational process. without letting young reporters get hung up in the feed cycle.
>> well, i agree with you that young reporters need to be trained. old reporters need to be reminded. but i think what we need is to start no later than the seventh grade, ed. this is a civic responsibility. to listeners, viewers, and readers it's listen but convenient verify. there's an old card table expression, you trust your mother, but you cut the cards.
>> what we have seen is politicians grab on to a morsel of information and turn it into a news story because they are elected officials and people believe what they say.
>> exactly. and frequently that information is wrong or is an outright lie. the worst cases are when the politicians know it and they use it anyway.
>> how does the white house handle this? how should the obama administration respond to this? you just saw jay carney . he's been peppered with this a number of times.
>> well, frankly, i think they're trying to do a better job than has been done with some previous administrations, republican and democrat for that matter. the key thing is to get on it in a hurry. don't wait. there's a deadline every nanosecond today. so he who waits is lost. if you wait and let the perpetrators of these lies and these frauds ever get a foothold on the internet, you then get into the feedback loop that goes television to newspapers. if you get behind on that, you're lost.
>> do you feel the consumer's smart enough to figure this stuff out?
>> i have great confidence in the american public and consumers and listeners. that's been my whole experience in television. however, i think they need to be informed of just how widespread this is because there is a residue of people who say, listen, it was in the newspaper, it must be true, or it was on television, it must be true.
>> yeah. unfortunately, we're out of time. but i do want to say the days of that local reporter covering the school board are gone, it seems like, doesn't it?
>> well, it seems like it's as out of date as a hominy wagon.
>> dan, great to have you on "the ed show."
>> thank you, ed.
>> you bet. my pleasure. that is "the ed show." i'm