Opinions

Why America has a thicker skin


Last week, Gallup released a poll which revealed that only 16% of adults in the US have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in newspapers. 11% of the same lot felt the same about television news. Even though we don’t have any skin in the American game, our first reaction is that we don’t have a great deal, or quite a lot, of confidence in the Gallup poll. But, as in life, so in editorials – it’s the second reaction that counts: that an overwhelming proportion of Americans not trusting the media for its ability or intent to tell the truth, the unpleasant truth and nothing but the truth, so help them god actually makes sense. In fact, if most Americans found their media dependable, we would have sat up to take notes.

Why do we think America‘s distrust of its media is natural? Because it’s perfectly alright to lie or peddle falsities – by law. In 2020, in a New York district court, in a case accusing Fox News host Tucker Carlson of slander, the judge said that the popular anchor is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topic he discusses but engages in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary’ – and that’s absolutely fine. Which actually makes US media consumers take the media with dollops of salt. Such scepticism, in turn, makes for thicker skins and less calls of righteous alarums. And far less tortured souls filing cases.



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