It took a few days but “Cronkite backlash” has started. The backlash in the wake of the deaths of icons, comes after a period of hyper-testimonials (See Russert, Tim).
It’s Jack Shafter at Slate who argues that you can’t trust trust:
If Cronkite were working in today’s news environment, painting the news from the same palette he used when he anchored the CBS program, would viewers still invest their deep trust in him? (Assuming, of course, that the public did regard Cronkite as the nation’s most trustworthy man.)
I doubt it. The news business has both expanded and fragmented in the post-Cronkite, post-Fairness Doctrine era. The news monopoly the three broadcast networks enjoyed for two decades has been shattered by the three cable news networks, all of which embrace (and thrive on) the controversy that Cronkite eschewed. The Web, which can make the cable news channels look positively Cronkitian, has only reshattered the shards.
Yeah…yeah, but let’s get to the money quote:
Beware of those who fetishize trust, Monck and Hanley counsel. “Trust is a shoddy yardstick. It doesn’t gauge truth, it gauges what looks close to the truth: verisimilitude,” they write. It’s not just the naive and undereducated who end up trusting people and institutions that they shouldn’t. The sophisticated and the well-schooled are vulnerable, too.
Be skeptical, news consumers, especially of the journalists you trust most. It will make you smarter and keep them honest.
Trust your spouse. Trust your dog. That ought to do it.