Watch this clip of trusted CNN news anchor Soledad O’Brien interviewing Jodi Kantor about her new book, The Obamas.
What do you think? No. Here’s a better question, what did you learn? One thing is for sure – you learned NOTHING about the book. What we get is O’Brien interpreting Kantor as smearing Michelle Obama in her book and repeatedly going after Kantor to support her interpretation when it is not clear that O’Brien is right, at all. In fact, Kantor remarkably keeps her cool and sounds to be quite rational in the face of a perturbed O’Brien. We do learn that O’Brien read very little of the book except for a few lines that her team probably marked up for her, and that she took a grossly uncharitable view of the author’s work. If we want to talk about objective reporting or interviewing, that was piss poor.
Kantor comes off well in the interview, but if there is anything we have learned from our past is that good oration and composure doesn’t equal truth. Kantor may be truthfully recounting why she said those things about Michelle Obama, her evidence, and how the book progressively views Michelle Obama in a more and more favorable light, but frankly, I have no way of knowing if they are really right. This is the first time I have heard of Jodi Kantor, so I’m not going to let my truth meter hit 100% based on one interview without even reading the book.
This is but one instance where the media utterly fails us. My guess is that many who might have watched that clip when it originally aired came off having a negative opinion of Kantor’s book. They probably got a negative opinion without a shred of any good evidence – just a badly assuming O’Brien.
The good thing is that the bias in this instance was pretty blatant, and so many hopefully saw it for what it was (even though the negativity probably still stuck in your head anyway). The bad thing is that we don’t know how often we may be buying other instances of media bias when they are done with more finesse.
Maybe I just pulled a fast one on you.
The point: the only way to get good information is to do your homework. Check the sources. Don’t ever take what a media personality says at face value. Become media literate.