For one of the networks or newspapers to break a story first--to get a "scoop"--was a big deal. It added to the credibility of the source and helped gain viewers or readers. I am saying all of this for the benefit of those of you who did not live these times, or who do not remember well what it was like. If you are in that group, I ask that you really try to imagine what those times were like. And THEN, I want you to go see the fantastic new movie The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It is the story of how the American media broke the "scoop" that our government, over many administrations from both political parties, had lied to us about the Vietnam War.
The media in those days wasn't pro left or pro right, although the government tried to malign them then in much the same fashion as we see happening today. Today, the information stream is infinitely more complex. And I am certainly NOT trying to argue that the constrained information stream of fifty years ago was better than the chaotic but wonderfully diverse stream of information we enjoy today. In the old days, the "filter" on the news was provided by the media outlets themselves, and by their sources. That made it easier for a government to control information and to pull off a big lie, like the one exposed by the leaking of the Pentagon Papers. The dialogue between Hanks and Streep in the movie The Post does a brilliant job of showing how that happened.
Today, each of us has to be our own filter, and that presents a much different challenge for us as citizens. In my book Accountability Citizenship, I encourage people to get their news from many sources, and then to apply their intellect and reason to identify the truth. I don't think we have done a good job of preparing Americans to deal with the current complexities of the information stream, and Accountability Citizenship provides a simple toolkit to address that challenge.
I saw The Post last weekend, and was pleased to see that the theater was packed. Please go see this important movie, and take your children. You will not be disappointed.