Veteran TV journalist Ted Koppel analyzed the media’s role in the political divide in Trump-era America on “CBS Sunday Morning” — and had a pointed moment interviewing Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“We have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show,” Hannity told Koppel on camera, registering the veteran newsman’s doubt. “You’re cynical. … You think we’re bad for America? You think I’m bad for America?”
“Yep,” Koppel replied. “In the long haul, I think that all these opinion shows…”
“Really?” Hannity asked. “That’s sad, Ted.”
Koppel explained: “You know why? Because you’re very good at what you did and because you have attracted … people who have determined that ideology is more important than facts.”
To explain the evolution of the increasingly partisan American media, Koppel pointed to a 1987 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to overturn the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which stipulated that radio and television programs had to present both sides of a political question on air.
“Free of the Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio exploded into a political force of nature,” Koppel said.
Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Koppel, “Now you take conservative talk radio, move that forward to tribal cable television and layer on to that email and social media, and all of a sudden we live in a world where people can get information and believe it’s absolutely true and not have to get any kind of opposing view. And once they believe it they will always believe it even if it’s utterly false.”
Koppel concluded by citing a Pew Research Center study from last June that found 49 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats said they were “afraid” of the other party: “As President Trump might say, sad.”
Watch the video here.