NBC anchor Lester Holt has stirred up some serious social media drama after arguing that the media has no obligation to give two sides to each story.
In the speech he gave while accepting the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, Holt criticized the notion that journalists must provide equal time to opposing viewpoints on an issue, insisting that some viewpoints are unworthy of airtime.
“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” the host of NBC’s Nightly News remarked. “Before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”
NBC’s Lester Holt declares that “fairness is overrated” and that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.”pic.twitter.com/qwya8lISz2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 1, 2021
He further argued that providing a platform for “misinformation,” especially when discussing issues related to public health and safety, can be dangerous, adding: “Our duty is to be fair to the truth.” Apparently anticipating criticisms of his stance, he stressed that refusing to cover “unsupported arguments” is not proof of some sort of agenda, and, in fact, “just the opposite.”
The monologue triggered howls among those who view the mainstream media with suspicion.
Instead of @LesterHoltNBC telling all of us how we’re wrong to not believe the media, he may want to take a real look inward as to WHY the largest percentage of people ever DON’T trust the media. It’s not US dude, it’s YOU.
— Matt Clarke (@MattClarke12) April 1, 2021
“I have a feeling that what is considered ‘true’ in this context is whatever NBC decides is true at any given moment,” remarked one commenter.
“Our duty is to be fair to the truth”
I have a feeling that what is considered “true” in this context is whatever NBC decides is true at any given moment.
— 地獄ケーキ(pre-debut Vtuber)🍰🇺🇸🚞 (@JigokuCake) April 1, 2021
Others accused Holt of advocating for unapologetic prejudice in journalism.
That’s the definition of prejudice. You’d have to be so insufferably foolish to not see it.
— Gerald Garner (@CampHopeMVP) April 1, 2021
Several replies took a more nuanced view, noting that providing necessary context for hot button issues is not television’s strong suit, due to time constraints. But instead of completely ignoring alleged “disinformation,” journalists should be willing to take the time to carefully examine and deconstruct it.
But when “disinformation” presents itself, it’s incumbent that MSM work to provide citation that carefully dissects the various elements rather than just disregard outright. 2/2
— Jim Santori (@JPSantori) April 1, 2021
While many were up in arms over Holt’s comments, there were plenty of Twitter users who applauded his words.
And he’s exactly right. What is even remotely controversial about that?
— Sarah (@Plasticdoe) April 1, 2021
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