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Dear FRONTLINE,
Your show "Why America Hates the Press" was a joke. It should have been entitled "Why James Fallows Hates the Press." The show did not really examine what average Americans think about the press, it was merely an elaboration of the James Fallows thesis.

There is something to be said for his critique of journalists getting paid to before business or lobbying groups. However, I think that multimillion dollar stars like Tom Brokaw looking down their noses at the outside work of $50,000-100,000 journalists was pretty sleazy.

In discussing TV punditry no reference was made to their origin in print journalism. For decades reporters aspired to become columnists. Arthur Krock, James Reston, and Joseph Alsop traded on insider information and disinformation for decades. That print columnists or pundits like Jack Germond, Robert Novack, or George Will moved to TV is just not surprising or scandalous. George Will began his TV career as a "conservative" commentator; for someone like Christopher Hitchens to express shock at Will's partisanship was especially hypocritical.

What is even more dishonest is that so many regular reporters of supposedly main-stream, objective publications spout their political biases on TV and then insist that these prejudices do not influence their reporting. The irony is that you trashed relatively moderate and circumspect commentators like Steve and Cokie Roberts while ignoring clear left-liberal ideologues like Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and Eleanor Clift. Actually there is nothing ironic about it, that was your intent.

In discussing whether Washington journalists are out of touch, you only talked about money and nannies. No mention was made that poll after poll shows that the media elite have very different social, cultural, and political values than the rest of America. American views on homosexuality, abortion, marriage, crime, and economics are much more diverse than the media. Only 3% of the media elite identify themselves as conservative, while at least 30% of Americans identify themselves as such.

This leads me to my final point. Fallows' real complaint is that the explosion of TV punditry has exposed the political biases and predilections of the media elite. His real purpose is to restore journalistic credibility by once again obscuring and disguising its liberal biases behind a facade of "objectivity" and feigned "humility." Americans hate the press because we see, daily, dramatic differences between what is presented on TV or in the newspaper and what we experience in our lives. We want to get facts and all we get spin. Yes, we see the media as rich and arrogant, but we also see it as slanted and lazy. Your show was just more spin.
D.B.C.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I want to pay you a high compliment for your show on the hypocrisy of the press. I have been searching for a long time a way of describing my feelings of loathing for the establishment press (most anyway). I have, for a long time, been blaming the "liberal press bias" that was upsetting me so. But, (as only one example) seeing Newt and Billy boy in the same room cozying up to the likes of the Washington Press Corps made me re-evaluate my opinion, not to mention to want to gag! And I was aghast about the George Will revelation (to me at least). I have long been a (more or less) fan of Mr. Will, but now, it seems, I should take a more jaundiced look at the whole lot of them.

Being something of a political junkie, and mega-consumer of news talk shows, I admit to falling prey to shows like The McLaughlin Group and others, but not any longer. I didn't realize that what the press has been criticizing (namely the revolving door), they had been sharing in that booty all along as well. What WHORES they are. I found your piece fair, even if a bit self serving (in terms of the press becoming the story, YET AGAIN). I want to close by saying that I will now start watching Frontline every week (when it's on) instead of what I ordinarily watch on Tuesday nights at the same time, namely Dateline NBC. Your show about Bill Clinton and Bob Dole got me hooked, and this week's show reeled me in.
Sincerely,
P.T.
Atlanta, GA


Dear FRONTLINE,
While I could certainly identify with the sentiments expressed in the title of your program, I was most unpleasantly surprised by the response of many of the reporters interviewed for the piece. While they were slightly more practaced at denial than the average person, the members of the press did very poorly at addressing these issues in a forthright and sober manner. Do they actually think that people will buy their shrugging and finger pointing?
C.P.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I've heard it said that freedom of the press is for those who own one and that jounalistic self criticism is an exercise in pundits whipping their colleagues with feathers,thus it was a surprise and pleasure to watch Frontline's " Why America Hates the Press " which addressed issues of crassness,elitism and class in the Media.Democracy in America is in jeopardy when debate amoung the financial,political and cultural elite is purported to be "the voice of the people" and this is unchallanged by a fat and contented "lap dog" mainstream press. If the media fails in this responsibility, it is viewed as "part of the problem" and should not be surprised that the powerless in this country view it with mistrust and contempt.
F.G.
West New York,N.J.


Dear FRONTLINE,
Just finished watching the captioned, and you have at least the start of the answer, but you need to go much farther. Yes, we, the public, do, indeed consider most of the mainstream press elitist, condescending, high-priced prostitutes. However, even more so, are we tired of the talking heads impressing their own agenda over current events. That fact is reflected in the steadily-dropping ratings of the national news television shows. I, for one, absolutely refuse to watch such trash as The McLaughlin Group or The Capitol Gang or Meet the Press. I am so fed up with the left-leaning agenda of the major network news organizations that I, along with more each day, avoid watching them. I refuse to watch Sam Donaldson, I avoid watching Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw I watch with a very jaundiced eye.

More and more I am forced to rely on the written page and radio. I read my local paper cover to cover, and strain the news in there carefully to filter out the bias. My car radio rarely is taken off talk radio programs anymore, and I am in the car a lot. We acquired Fox News only recently, and there seems to be a conspiracy to keep people from watching it. The newspaper reported that it would be carried on our local cable, but has not listed it in the television guide, nor is it listed among the station guide channels. Very interesting. CNN, C-SPAN, and The Weather Channel are listed, but Fox News is not.

I found it this week, only by channel-surfing until I located it. I have been able to watch it for only a few hours so far, but, to date, it appears they are simply reporting the news, without troubling to explain to us poor, benighted heathens what the news is supposed to mean, and what the political ramifications are. How odd! How are we supposed to know what it means without a talking head talking down to us with his spin? My, my! If they continue to report the news in this fashion, I might have to ignore the major networks altogether! I think your titile was perhaps not emphatic enough. "Why America Hates the Press" should perhaps be, instead, "Why America Despises the Press."
B.D.
Thornton, CO


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your critics of the weekend political shows missed one key point; unlike most exclusively "print" reporters, the insiders on these shows don't conceal or camoflage their politics while mixing facts and opinion the to suit their aims.

The public started to lose respect for the press long ago when reporting of the facts was abandoned by journalists in favor of personal crusades to convert we poor barbarians to their viewpoints by judicious filtering of the news. Perhaps some of us see more honesty in those who admit they're in it for the money than we do in the elitists like ex-Carter staffer Mr. Fallows who would have us think he leaves his personal views at the door when he makes editorial decisions.
D.C.
Ventura, CA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Thank you for yet another courageous examination of what was, likely, a most difficult subject. Your examination, while somewhat "directed", was a breath of fresh air.

I would guess that most self-described "public policy junkies" (including many of those in the community of print journalism) are forced to inoculate themselves against the cascading cynicism of an indifferent, apathetic constituent marketplace. The reason(s) for such are far too long and convulted for such commonfolk as myself in an email.

Ours is simply a problem side effect of affluence, as ironic as that may sound.

All should be so fortunate. Can anyone imagine such structural difficulties and angst-ridden discussion occurring, in, say, China?

Your story was the first I have ever seen in the "mainstream media" that even hints (unintentionally?) at the source of continuing voter apathy and pervasive, ingrained, and structural cynicism and concomitant perceived powerlessness.

That is a story!

I'm sorry your program was only sixty minutes long: you failed to address the print media outside of D.C., Talk Radio, the major TV broadcast networks (BTW, Tom Brokaw made me GAG!), and the growing list of "alternative" outlets (free local dailies, the Internet, "George", etc.)

I have a reinforced suspicion that integrity may be found wherever one looks (not that that snippet is very helpful)...

I love "The McGlaughlin Group". I love "US News and World Report". I love Tom Leykis. I love PBS. I love Rush Limbaugh. I love David Broder. I love Bob Woodward...

I am the luckiest man in the world! Good Show!
Sincerely,
J.A.R.


Dear FRONTLINE,
Interestingly, not one commoner appeared on your program, "Why America Hates the Press". I guess the question is, How do you know? You are just as much an elitist as that which you were portraying.

And, maybe that is the real problem. Whether it is the press or the government, they "know" what we want. I am just plain tired of the sickness that permeates the elitist, money together with the loss of honesty and truth. The elitist press asks the elitist politician the simple, phoney softball questions and never question the phoney dishonest responses. Probably because they don't know any better.

There are many good reporters, who still hunger for the story, not for the money, but for the satisfaction. Unfortunately they are not in Washington. How many Washington reporters know anything about economics, math, science, physics, law, medicine, whatever. Conducting phoney surface interviews with politicians who probably know less isn't newsworthy.

The country is in trouble, but what the hell, let's go to another party and we'll think of something to write or report on tomorrow. CHEERS.
R.R.
Allentown, PA


Dear FRONTLINE,
While not disapreeing with any of the points raised in your show, I think you missed the most obvious and pertinent issue: with the possible excpetion of Bob Woodward (and even he is suspect), every "reprter" you featured has crossed the line from journalism to commentary. Even if they do go out of their way to be objective in the pursuit of their daytime jobs, they have gained celebrity status for their efforts in punditry. Small wonder, then, that having watched them spout their opinions all weekend, the viewing public is skeptical of both their credibility and their motives when they return to their regular roles as "just-the-facts" journalists. They crossed the Rubicon from the Front Page to the Editorial page, they shouldn't be surprised that there's no going back.
B.H.
Reading, MI


Dear FRONTLINE,
The spoken and unspoken reactions of many prominent news media personalities proves how the media has degraded to yet another "money and power" profession. It is total hypocrisy for a profession that constantly exposes politicians for engaging in "revolving door" activities to make such pathetic excuses when one of their own engage in the same practice. What clear-minded person believes a $30,000 lecture fee paid by a public interest group would not influence them in some way? It is sad to say, but David Broder and James Fallows are becoming a rare breed in their profession.

J.R.M.
Montgomery, AL


Dear FRONTLINE,
I thought this show would discuss things like the obvious slant that journalists often put on stories. Your choice of focusing on high speaking fees and the like missed the point entirely. Highly-paid speaking engagements do not not necessarily lead to dishonest reporting. But the manipulative tricks I see in my daily paper are an ill and a disservice.
S.W.
Glendale, CA


Dear FRONTLINE,
We would like to comment on your program that was aired tonight. First of all, we found it very interesting to see that the majority of the journalists you examined appeared to be "on the take". How are we supposed to believe anything that we hear or see through the media as unbiased reporting, when they are taking large sums of money from lobbiests and other special interest groups? Your program reaffirmed the cynicism most American have towards the media. Because of this, we can see why so many Americans are turning toward other sources such as talk radio patriots like Rush Limbaugh who expose more of the shenanigans that happen in the White House and "in the beltway".

What matters to us, is the fact that the reporters that cover the White House cannot be objective and provide the public their constitutional mandate to be a watchdog and protect us from tyrannical government. The Washington media has flipped from "attack dog" towards Dan Quale during the Bush administration, to "lap dog"--virtually rolling over for a daily belly-rub with the Clinton administration.

We commend Frontline for its honesty and courage in its handling of this issue. Keep up the good work.<> Sincerely,
A.& E. O.
Tucson, AZ


Dear FRONTLINE,
I enjoy watching the Sunday press shows. Although the journalist have become celebrities I find their viewpoints reflect a difference of opinion on many issues. There is a certain amount of elitism and I am surprised by the amount of commercial benefit so many have made for themselves. But they are human. If I could leverage my own profession experience I would! Perhaps they hold positions of civic trusts though.
R.C.R.
Sylvania, OH


Dear FRONTLINE,
I just finished watching your show covering the way the "Media Elite" will sell out for personal gain. I commend the gentleman from "U.S.News" that is making an effort to change the rules within his organization. He just gained a new reader. The hipocrasy displayed by some of these so called "journalists" made me nauseaus. Perhaps we should rename the "White House" to the "Whore House" on their behalf . As always, your show is truly outstanding. Some reporters like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts should watch it once in a while to learn what real jounalism is all about. Keep up the good work.
C.P.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I've known the press were pretty propagandists (and liars/idiots) since I saw a New Hampshire politician leave the Iran/Contra hearings and talk live on the steps to the news media.. He said (and I paraphase) "It's not about charisma, it's not about good looks, it's about the facts of the case and I am impressed with Col. North's testimony and I believe that he beleived he was under orders and doing the work of the United States".. .. a few minutes later I flipped the channel to a major network (one of the big three) and they showed a clip of that New Hampshire politician saying "It's not about charisma, it's not about good looks, it's about the facts of the case" and then they cut back to the commentator (anchorman?) and he said "The New Hampshire politician was not impressed by Col. North".. Which was the exact oposite of the truth. There are many similar occurances to the example given above, but it's the one that really rammed home (to me) how far from removed the truth the "News" is. The news media is a large bunch of disinformationists and they are, collectively, too stupid to realize it.
J.G.


Dear FRONTLINE,
GUTSY! I am shocked, stunned and amazed at the stark light of truth you were willing to put on the behind-the-scenes reality of your own business! Now, this is some stellar journalism. Gutsy and objective. I'm speechless. Thank you.
B.A.R.
Arlington, VA


Dear FRONTLINE,
I have been very dissapointed in the news media for many years but this election coverage ( or non-coverage is more accurate ) takes the cake. Almost every news story I've viewed recently has been slanted towards either the democratic or republican parties. The all important THIRD PARTIES, and there are many, were nearly completely ignored. I am especially ashamed of the media for not covering much of the Perot/Choate team. These are honorable men and both have a genuine love for America that the two existing candidates do not have. The communications in America are so good now that it is increasingly harder for the politicians to pull the wool over our eyes.

I am amazed that America has stood for the political BS for so long. If you in the media had given an unbiased report on the candidates and issues that Americans cried out for, we would have at least one third choice for a leader. As it stands now, we have NO CHOICE! I condem your actions as media representatives and serve notice that at least a few of I hope this will be well read. I get tired of beating my head against a wall writing to people that have lost all sense of reality and the way America used to be. I mean this as an observation. I do not wish to hurt anyones feelings but only to make you open your eyes and see what is really happening.
Thank you,
R.L.
Nevada City, CA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Well done report! It just scratched the surface, as far as I'm concerned (the "glitzing up" & "dumbing down" of local TV newscasts could have been touched upon), but I think it did a bang-up job as far as it went, especially in its portrayal of the incredibly casual greed shown by celebrity reporters like Cokie Roberts and the eerily-close similarity of shows like the McLaughlin Group to professional wrestling.

We do live in the information age, but there is so much of it that it that "information" itself has become something akin to static noise, as if we were listening to a million radio stations all at once. It would be nice if there were still people and organizations we could look up to and rely on for unbiased guidance through the din, but alas it seems that they have gone the way of unlocked churches, a thing from a wiser, more innocent age.
B.C.
Somerville, MA


Dear FRONTLINE,
I think this Frontline report missed the boat so badly that Mr. Talbot is still hanging out on the dock days after the ship has sailed. Blaming America's "hate affair" with the Beltway press on the McLaughlin Group and Cokie Roberts' lecture fees is completely ludicrous.

If you really want to know why America hates the press, you should have taken a look at the alternative news sources that America is turning to, namely, talk radio, and the internet. And while you're at it, you should also ask yourselves why nobody is watching PBS or Frontline, either.

And if Mr. Talbot thinks that Beltway journalists are "losing touch" with mainstream America, why didn't he take the time to interview some mainstream Americans instead of focusing his report solely on the inside- the-Beltway journalists who are supposedly the source of the problem?

All in all, a disappointing effort. Please try harder next time.
Thank you.
K.G.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I am one of the many Americans who believe that the American media is in need of reform. I was quite shocked by the complete coverage of both sides of the issue, especially an issue of responsible journalism. As the influx of political shows bombards the public each and everyday it has become difficult to interpret the differences between political reporters and political analysts. As the information age matures, I would like to think the major news agencies and personalities would mature in their assimilation of information, just as yours did. At the current rate of deterioration, the Sunday political guru's will find themselves amongst the weekday afternoon talk shows. Thank you, it was nice to see responsible public programming.
R.J.W.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I raged with disgust as I viewed "Why America Hates the Press." You affirmed what most Americans perceive the press to be; an elitist group of hypocrites who practice self promotion without shame. If politicians are responsible for increasing cynicism in our nation, then the press should be accountable for everything else that is wrong with America.
Sincerely,
M.H.
Oak Harbor, WA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your coverage of the Beltway Media was a step in the right direction. I can only hope that when the inevitable challenge that your bias continues to lean Left, you don't shrug your collective shoulders, recite this story and say " oh yah, but we already covered that." A once a decade introspection does translate into honest reform.

Additionally, hooray for US News. I'll finally try a copy of a rag that many mistakenly believe is conservative. Aside from a handful of small but loyally supported publications--Washington Times and American Spectator to name two--are there ANY?
P.C.J.
Kalamazoo, MI


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your episode on public distrust and dislike of the media brought to the fore many important issues. One that I don't think was emphasized enough concerned the term 'journalist' itself. It was applied rather loosely to many of the personalities that were discussed. Robert Novak, although a writer of some skill, is hardly a journalist. Rarely in his columns or commentaries does he back up his conclusions or observations with thorough research. The same can be said of any number of more liberal high-profile media personalities. How many times have you seen round-table discussions or newspaper or magazine columns diverge to discussions on political personalities or political posturing of whomever is in the hotseat or the spotlight that particular week.

The point is that the term 'journalism' doesn't apply to a majority of this 'product'. There is little or no researched factual information that I couldn't get from Headline News in an Airport gate area. 'In-depth' coverage from such media personalities is joke, and that's being kind. I cannot remember the last time I received any information from, say, Brit Hume that actually helped me in making decisions concerning my life, the life of my son, or my career. I heard at least 4 mos of network news coverage of the healthcare debate and I couldn't tell you one thing that was right or wrong about Clinton's program in '94 because details were rarely discussed!

I am a physicist. If I were to conduct my research by talking about how various topics were 'playing' in the scientific community or which clique was on top that week instead of doing real research and giving myself and my colleagues factual information on which to base conclusions I would probably be out of a job.

The media 'elite' --a strange term to use-- seem to know very little about journalism.
B.G.
Albany, NY


Dear FRONTLINE,
Despite running on PBS, I'm sure the fact that most people would consider you part of "The Media", as well, hasn't eluded you, has it?? Maybe the current climate of hightened journalistic self-evaluation has made the stifling of chuckles on the parts of respondents less common. A situation where one reporter questions the ethics of the other's behavior, pondering at the same whether they should turn the tables in their next piece, and all the while marveling at the irony. I guess if anyone is going to do this kind of obviously difficult evaluation, I'd like you to do it. And if government funding cuts for PBS loom again, please let me know, I'll gladly send you my Pell Grant.
T.A.L.
Provo, UT


Dear FRONTLINE,
If Cokie Roberts is an ABC Commentator, then what's the problem with her accepting a speaking fee? Commentator and journalist, I think, are two separate animals, aren't they? Her husband, on the otherhand, was at one time a journalist for U.S. News and World Report. But I fail to see why the big deal was made about Cokie Roberts accepting money from a Health Care association when she might be asked to comment -- not report -- on health care in the future.
C.Y.T.
Orlando, FL


Dear FRONTLINE,
I found your documentary or Why America Hates Journalists interesting. However, in all your talk about the conflict of interest of reporters receiving money from lobby groups you failed to mention that somehow PBS itself feels it can receive money from major companies like Archer Daniels and still feel capable of reporting without bias. If you can do it, so can journalists like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts.

Also, I had to laugh during one of the interview segments with the ombudsperson from the Washington Journal when, while she was discussing journalists becoming celebrities, your reporter and editor decided it would be a perfect time to get a gratuitous shot of the reporter nodding slipped into the piece. Gotta get that reporter some exposure after all!
Sincerely,
A.L.
New York, NY


Dear FRONTLINE,
What I found surprising in your program "Why America Hates the Press" was not the obvious symbiotic relationship between the press and political establishments in Washington, but rather the assumption that the American public is largely unaware of this incestuous relationship. It is no secret the beltway journalists have very little to say that is relevant to the day to day experiences of most Americans. It is only fitting that they are so blind to what is completely obvious the rest of us -- final proof as to how out of touch the Washington press is with the rest of the country.

As your program points out, it seems President Clinton has never become comfortable with the Washington press elite. Perhaps it is this very discomfort with the press that has struck a chord in the American public and why most Americans are willing to trust the President to another four years in the White House. Ironically, I suspect that if the President had a more cordial relationship with the White House press corps, he would have had a much tougher time dodging the constant attacks on his character. Maybe it is Bob Dole, a true Washington insider, who has a credibility problem with the American public.

Thank you for a very enlightning program.
Sincerely,
M.T.


Dear FRONTLINE,
Just finished watching "Why Americans Hate the Press" on the PBS program Frontline. I was pleasantly surprised to see real journalism. Facts and more facts.

Frontline made the five million dollars that Newt G. turned down for the rights to his memoirs look like petty larceny when compared to the avarice behavior of your senior gossips. They do not deserve to be called journalists,...Hypocrites is more appropriate.

At least Newt turned down the money. Why do Mrs. Roberts and Sam Donaldson complain so loudly? Are they better than Newt G.? They must remember that they are only reporters, and bad ones at that. Do they contribute to the gross national product, provide any jobs that are more than marginally above minimum wage?

Newt seems to have had the last laugh and rightly so. Your senior staff has been caught with their arrogant hands in the proverbial cookie jar. Will you now report on your own internal corruption or is this just reserved for customers of yours, e.g., General Motors, etc?

In conclusion, the Russian press was known to be controlled by government stooges and was implicitly corrupt. Now, I know that national boundaries do not filter corruption and the concomitant prevarication's.
Sincerely,
D.S.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I just watched your show on the press in Washington, D.C. I appreciated the show, but felt that it was far too little, far too late. People who are outside of the Beltway, and outside of the press, are already fully aware of the problems with the press. It reminds me of the show on one on the so-called news magazines I saw a while back on Dr. James Dobson and his Focus on the Family organization. This story was years old, to me and all of the people I know out here in the real world, but to the people on this show, it was astounding, it was news.

I think the church analogy was a good one, since most people in the U.S. do go to church on Sunday morning, and most people in the press do not. In my experience, we in the real world live our lives and largely ignore those on the 'inside' of politics and the press. After all, what do they have to do with us, or for that matter, we with them? I don't think for one moment that the press is trying to report the news to me, none of them can even relate to me. Their lives, and therefore, what they consider important, as people and as members of the press, have nothing to do with life as most of us know it. Almost nothing I see or read from the 'mainstream' press in the country or on the Beltway speaks to me, and as a consequence, I largely ignore it.

All of the people I know live in that part of the country that makes up the majority of the country, that long, middle part you have to fly over to get to either coast. And most of the people who live in the middle part, might as well be in a whole other America from the one the press lives in. Who do they, and you, think you are kidding? What you reported on is not news, it is and old, old story.

Despite this, I am a long time watcher of Frontline. Usually you are pretty on the ball, though you do occasionally jump on the news story too late, rather than your usual timely way.

Thanks again for the story and the show. Keep up the good work.
Sincerely,
K.J>W>


Dear FRONTLINE,
The Frontline show was excellent, and will cause me to subscribe again to US News & World Report, since it may be worth reading again, with people like Steve Roberts fired.

But it seems to me somewhat hypocritical for PBS to complain about the "stars" of the Washington Press Corps, when these same self-promoting know-it-all snobs frequently pontificate on PBS shows such as "Washington Week in Review", or complementing the benign wrinkle-browed stupidity of Jim Lehrer.

How about kicking them back to their typewriters (computer keyboards?)and the chop-suey circuit where they belong, and stop giving them "exposure".

Who knows, with enough effort at blowing wind out of one end on the lecture circuit they might reduce the amount coming out of the other on PBS.
B.P.
San Diego, CA


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