The editor-in-chief of CNBC is encouraging those in the media to stick to the facts and acknowledge when they don’t know something because readers “are not as ignorant, as stupid as we think they are.”
Nikhil Deogun, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of CNBC, shared his thoughts at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado Wednesday, during a discussion about the media’s coverage of President Donald Trump.
His answer was prompted by a question about conformation bias from Yahoo! news anchor Katie Couric, who moderated the panel, which also included The Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker, Time editor Nancy Gibbs, and USA Today editor Joanne Lipman.
“Consumers are increasingly gravitating toward outlets that basically tell them what they want to hear, reinforce their beliefs,” Couric said. “A friend of mine said, ‘They’re seeking affirmation, not information.’ So given that, how do you restore trust in the media writ large if people are so divided about which media outlets are actually fair and accurate?”
In his response, Deogun warned against holding different people to different standards in reporting — a reality he called a “trap” in today’s political climate. Ultimately, he said the goal for the press corps should be to just “stick to the facts.”
“I think sometimes there’s too much of a tendency to interpret a fact to a degree that it goes into opinion,” Deogun said. “And I think part of our job is to — again — remind ourselves that our … readers, viewers, users, are not as ignorant, as stupid as we think they are.
“I think part of that is to be more transparent,” he continued. “Part of that is to be more forthcoming about what we know and what we don't know.”
Deogun concluded by highlighting the importance of reporters telling readers not just what they know, but what they also don’t know.
The CNBC editor’s remarks come as the relationship between the news media and the White House is particularly strained. On Tuesday, the Trump administration held its first on-camera briefing in one week.
During the question-and-answer session, helmed by principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Playboy reporter Brian Karem lambasted the administration for constantly blaming “fake news” and mainstream media bias for the troubles it’s faced.
“You’re inflaming everyone right here, right now with those words,” Karem told Sanders. “[Y]ou have been elected to serve for four years at least — there’s no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers.”
Sanders, for her part, disagreed with Karem’s assertion and blamed reporters’ “dishonesty” for the rocky relationship between the the press corps and the White House.