Carl Bernstein says the news industry today doesn’t have “courageous leadership.” Bernstein, half of that famous duo who broke open the Watergate story, which led to the resignation of President Nixon 40 years ago Friday, says corporate profit has gotten in the way of good news judgment.
Bernstein moderated a panel at the Paley Center last night to promote the final installment of CNN’s “The Sixties.” “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll” debuts tomorrow at 9pmET.
Bernstein says “There’s a lack of leadership in news,” citing Walter Cronkite and CBS president at the time Bill Paley — for whom the Paley Center is named — who dedicated half of the “CBS Evening News” to the Watergate scandal the day it broke, and another big chunk of time the next night.
“That was real leadership what Cronkite did there,” he said. “[Paley] let his news division at CBS operate without making a profit. The three networks insist the news divisions need to operate at the same profit margins rather than say, ‘hey we have a public responsibility here.’”
Bernstein also reflected how the rise of cable news has impacted viewers. “There are fewer people open minded to the best attainable version of the truth. They’re looking increasingly for information as ammunition, to fit into their already preconceived ideologies, notions, politics, and religious beliefs.”