Educating Chris Wallace – Trump Style

Chris Wallace got an exclusive interview with President Trump for his “Fox News Sunday” show. How did Chris do? He and his colleague, Howard Kurtz, talked about it on Howie’s show “Media Buzz.” What kind of grade should they get from the public?

Trump made a comment that he knew Chris’ father. His biological father was Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame. Trump probably also knew Chris’ step-father, Bill Leonard. Mike and Chris’s mother divorced when Chris was only one year old.

In a 1986 book, The Media Elite, S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman and Linda S. Lichter related a story pertinent to our current situation. In their chapter, The Rashomon Principle, they quote Mike Wallace on the development of a segment until it reaches the air.

“We have the power to convey any picture you want.” In fact, he goes on, “we once thought about doing a ‘Rashomon’—getting a piece of material and editing it several different ways—to demonstrate that fact,”

Lichter then tore this hubristic attitude apart by citing a “60 Minutes” segment on Illinois Power, where the target had also filmed the interviews and put together their own film. He quoted a review by Paul Good in Panorama

“… in virtually every case, the Illinois Power film shows “60 Minutes” omitting portions of interviews that offer evidence challenging its contentions against the power company. Certainly, Illinois Power tries to put its best face on things. But “60 Minutes” follows a pattern of believing the worst or artfully neutralizing elements that might disturb that pattern.”

Paul Good was describing what has now become so widespread that the President has given it a name, “Fake News.” One might be willing to cut Chris Wallace some slack about his biological father if not for the example set by his step-father, As Wikipedia notes, Bill Leonard’s most notable decision was the replacement of the retiring Walter Cronkite, commonly referred to as The Most Trusted Man in America, with Dan Rather.

Dan Rather was ultimately forced to admit he purveyed in “Fake (but Accurate) News”.

Photo credit: Jim Greenhill