Watch CBS News

Keller @ Large: Why The Role Of The Press Matters

BOSTON (CBS) – On Friday I'll be emceeing the annual New England First Amendment Awards on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition, a group of citizens who, according to their mission statement, "believe in the power of transparency in a democratic society," and they work with others to preserve and promote access to public meetings and documents and proper compliance with freedom of information laws.

It's an honor for me to be involved with this event because I strongly believe that the news media, whatever its failings, provides an essential service to our country, most notably skeptical oversight of what people with power are doing.

In an interview on CBS This Morning Thursday, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, who has seen his newspaper become a special focus of President Trump's continuing attacks on the media, call this "the most clarifying moment we've had in a generation about the role of the press," and some recent poll numbers explain why.

Only 24-percent of respondents think the media deals fairly with all sides, while 74-percent believe they tend to favor one side, a clear warning to the media to get their act together. In this climate, it's no surprise that 64-percent believe fake news has caused a great deal of confusion.

When those charged with truth-telling stumble, it creates a vacuum eagerly filled by liars.

And these results make the work of the New England First Amendment Coalition more crucial than ever. We have to work harder to regain public trust and assure people we are honest brokers.

The Quinnipiac Poll shows 52-percent of voters trust the media to tell the truth, while 37-percent trust President Trump. At least these numbers suggest a majority of you still look to us to deliver.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.